Today was an amazing, joyful day. Horizons have broadened and mountains have moved. You turned 14 months old today, and you finally started clapping.
Oh, and Barack Obama became President of the United States. I hear there was some excitement about that, too.
I'd been starting to worry a bit about your development; a quick glance at the What to Expect Toddler Years book shook me a bit. They were talking about the 12-month checkup and how I should make sure to tell the doctor all of your new skills: pattycake (nope!), clapping (nope!), waving (once, but never again). They were talking about words you should be using (nuh-huh) and it started to scare me - they were talking about the 12-month checkup and you were about to turn 14 months! I talked it over with Daddy and Deborah and they helped me relax a bit.
Writing this letter has helped, too - noticing all of the progress you've made, even if it's not verbal. Your clapping is what put my fears to rest, finally. It really was almost as exciting as Mr. Obama's inauguration for me.
You really are changing so much. One of your favorite new games when we're upstairs is finding a toy you love and fitting it through the rails of the hallway banister so that it falls down onto the stairs. Then you stick your arms and legs through, one at a time, to try to somehow get the item back. Then you screech at me until I come get it for you or until you find a new toy to torture yourself with.
You take such joy in being able to walk around. You love to walk back and forth downstairs and you light up with joy each time I come back into your line of sight. You grin and gasp and do your funny "happy walk" where you imitate a monkey - your knees bent and your arms dangling in front of you. When music is on you still do your Stevie Wonder imitation but now you also turn around in circles while you're "dancing." Honestly, Jack, you're just the sunniest kid I've ever known.
Deborah was holding you a few weeks ago and she asked you "Where's Nate" and you pointed right at him. If I'm holding you, you point where you want me to carry you. You love to share whatever you have - your bottle, your crackers, anything. You gorilla-walk up to whoever has caught your eye and foist your gifts upon them. They get extra points if they mime eating it while saying "Num num num" and handing it back to you. Simple pleasures.
Your favorite favorite games are the "I'm gonna get you!" variety. Daddy gets down on his hands and knees and tries to "eat your piggies" and you squeal and "run" and look behind you to make sure he's following you. You can keep it up as long as his knees can take it.
Here's a funny thing that you've been doing since you were first able to hold onto things, months and months ago: if I hand you something, you take it with the very tips of your fingers - a new toy, food, whatever. Even with how unstable it is, you always reach for it with the tips, and if you decide you like it you'll get a better hold on it. When I give you a new food, you poke it with your pointer finger for a while before deciding whether or not to try it (you always end up trying it).
The very best part of this month has been watching you and Nate start to really play with each other. When you grab his shirt Nate will start to walk and the two of you will cruise around like a little train - you grinning with joy and Nate grinning with pride. Tonight Nate came up to you and started dancing around and singing, and you started dancing back and Nate just giggled with the fun of it all. Later he was lying on the couch on his stomach playing a game on Deborah's phone, you toddled up to take a look. Nate turned to you and said in his sweety-high-pitched-Jack-voice "You see what I'm doing, Jack? You wanna watch? Okay!" I know you guys are going to have your rough spots, but so far you guys are so amazing together. I'm just so proud of you both I can hardly keep myself from bragging to random strangers.
Everyone is drawn to you and you are drawn to everyone. You're a Mama's boy, but you love everyone you come across. Today I left you with neighbor Sara while I went to check out the festivities; you looked startled when I handed you over, and you cried for half a second when I left, but you quickly got back to the joy of it all like you always do.
I don't know what I did to deserve you in my life, Jack, but I'm so grateful for whatever it was. You are a gift, a joy, a blessing. I'm so glad you were born.