13. Thirteen. XIII. Trece. What? And, again, how?
I had to wake you this morning for church. It seems that you missed the memo where you're only thirteen months old and not, actually, thirteen years old. I opened your curtain and then watched and waited for you to stir. You just kept sleeping with your legs tucked up under your torso, your jammy clad bum sticking slightly toward the ceiling. I gently rubbed your back. Finally, you reached your arms out in an exaggerated stretch. With a yawn you closed your eyes tighter and flopped onto your back. Eventually you opened them and, just at the precise moment that they focused and you realized you were back in the land of the living, you looked into my own eyes and grinned a toothy smile. My heart dripped into a giant pile of goo, obviously. The only thing cuter than a groggy Matthew in his jammies is a smiling, groggy Matthew in his jammies.
As for the teeth that belong to that smile, your two bottom ones are still slightly crooked and one of them stands a bit taller than the other. You now have three on top and a fourth is threatening to pop through. You care deeply about your oral hygiene and adore when we brush your teeth. We're still using the finger brush with baby toothpaste and, now that you have five chompers, our digits don't like that particular part of the day. When I carry you into the bathroom, pull open the drawer, and shove that plastic piece onto my finger, you bounce up and down in my arms, flail your body about and squeal in anticipation.
This month you learned how to go down the stairs. This is good because, up until now, you would hastily climb them and then sit at the top and cry. It was as though you had all this ambition to get to the top and then realized that, well, it's a little lonely up there. I'm proud of you. This is a lesson some men take a lifetime to learn. Of course, if your brother happens to be up there you will not exercise your knowledge of how to come down. The two of you grow more and more inseparable with every passing month. Your new favorite thing is to throw yourself at his legs in what can only be described as an attempt to tackle him. You're tough but he's a good two heads taller than you and he barely budges, even after you put your whole heart and soul into taking him down. He laughs. You laugh. He tries to walk. You won't let go. He laughs harder. You cackle. Eventually you let go. He walks away. You run as fast as your stubby little legs will let you go and throw yourself at him again. This happens at least 2,843 times a day and the sound of your two laughs blending into one makes my heart sign contentedly.
You love to read and you have a fairly impressive attention span for a squirmy 13 month old. I can't adequately describe the adorable way that you point to a picture in a book and then quickly flip your wrist and point to yourself. At first I thought you thought you were a bear but then you continued the practice with a dog, a plant, and a car. I recently read you a book with a duck in it and you started pointing to the duck and shouting, "Dut!" Of course, the sheep and the frog on the next page were also duts but whatever. We live in a world where a lot of people believe that the lines between absolute truth and relativism are blurry, at best, so maybe by the time you start school it won't really matter if you call a sheep a duck.
Your use of the word duck is surprising given the fact that you have little language. Don't get me wrong, you talk all the time, you just rarely use words. Your first word, back in the day, was mama. This word has fallen, almost entirely, out of your vocabulary. In fact, when I point to myself and say, mama, you smile coyly and then shout, "DADA!" The other day, however, you wandered into the kitchen where I was washing dishes, stood there for a second, and then yelped, "MOM!" I spun around to see you standing there with your arms up, waiting, somewhat annoyed, for me to pick you up. You also used to call for "ditdit" a hundred times a day but you've gotten so quick on your feet that you don't need to call your brother, you just go find him. You call the dog either Bet! or DA! and you do expect him to come when called. He is your own personal jungle gym. You ride him. You snuggle your face into his fur. You chase him. You attempt, incessantly, to get to his food. Your only other word is banana which you say like this, "NANA!" whenever you want one. And you want one whenever you see one. Grocery shopping is becoming problematic. Whenever you see bananas in someone else's cart you start trying to throw yourself out of the cart and into theirs. Luckily you are strapped in because I firmly believe that you'd catapult yourself right into oncoming carts and manage to consume all of their bananas before they even noticed. Really. You love them that much.
Yesterday, at the grocery store, you were actually not attempting to smuggle bananas out of someone else's cart and into ours. You were, instead, flirting with an eleven-month-old little girl. And when I say flirting I mean it. It was not your average, every day brand of flirting. I've seen you do plenty of that. You'd tuned everyone else out. Your eyes were locked in on her and the two of you were squealing at each other, bouncing up and down in your respective carts, and generally making googly eyes at one another. It led me to run my fingers through your hair and remark, "You're way too young to flirt with girls your own age!" Her mommy and I could do nothing but laugh at the two of you, only mildly concerned that you were making marriage plans in baby talk.
Once again, I just can't believe another month has gone by. I can't believe that you are well on your way to leaving babyhood behind altogether as you barrel toward being a full blown toddler. I love you. I'll love you forever. And, whatever happens, you will always be my precious baby.