Wednesday, December 3, 2008

You're turning two, sweet Andrew!

Aw, Andrew. My sweet, crazy little child. I love everything about you, even when your "one-year-oldness" could drive me to a loony bin. =) If given three wishes, though, I wouldn't wish away any of your active nature, your destructive exploration, or your love for being around me no matter what I'm doing.

This has been quite a year for you, little one. For one thing, you became a big brother. That's quite a milestone for someone only a year-and-a-half old. I had been a bit concerned about that transition for you. Jack was a year older when you were born, so he seemed to understand it and knew how to be gentle and loved taking care of you. What would you think, being so young? Andrew, my sweet blew me away. Instinctively, you knew how to hug her gently. Give her kisses on her head. Bring her blankets if you thought she'd be cold. Lay toys on her that you wanted her to play with. Seeing you love her made me love you even more. I think how a child treats other children says so much about their true nature of being.

It can be hard sometimes, seeing the long-term scope in the throes of toddlerhood. There can be so much frustration on a little one's part. You want to do everything, and you want to do it yourself. Even if that's completely impossible. Having to watch you sort through your limits is hard on my maternal side, because I want to see you feeling at peace with yourself. And yet, I know this is a natural part of the autonomy process and that you're right on pace with your frustration.

Most of the time, you have SO much joy in you. Your eyes just sparkle! Your laugh is so contagious. And so when there are times that you want to zip your own coat, buckle your own car seat, or other things you can't really do yet, I'm not quite sure how to guide you through those emotions. We do a lot of validating: "I know you want to buckle yourself, but I need you to be safe." Conflict can be everywhere when you're this age, internal and external, even when Dad and I try to say "yes" as much as possible.

It's hard being so little.

In the midst of the frustration, though, are those triumphs at every turn. Oh Andrew, the things you can do! I mean, even at the most basic: You can speak to us! I know nearly every child does this, but it makes it no less a miracle. You managed to take the nonsensical music of the words we say to you, decode the phonemes and move your tongue and mouth accordingly, and then speak them back to us with meaning. I took a graduate level linguistics course, and learned nothing that solved the miracle - it almost seemed more miraculous, because no one could really answer how it all worked. But despite how chatty you are, you're still so limited in what you can say by nature of being only 2. I can see all this activity in your mind and these things you want to tell us just bursting out of you. And then having to truncate it to 5 or 6 words and under...well, I don't envy how that must feel.

I love the person I can see in you. I love the warm heart you have already. How you love to give people things, even if they don't really need/want bringing Grandpa Tom the postal scale about 10 times, after he'd expressed initial interest in it. We smile and graciously thank you...and then try to put it back secretly when you've gone off to play. But you'll see it back in its place and assume we misplaced you bring it back for us again. This speaks to your heart, I think, and your love for helping people. You want to be in the middle of everything, and mutter "help mommy, help mommy" under your breath as you try to dump the entire box of detergent into the dishwasher.

Oh my.

When I look around the house and the path of paper bits across the carpet...dumped oatmeal in our kitchen...the pile of "off limits" stuff piled high on the fridge to keep it out of your reach...well, I can find myself wishing away the chaos and wanting to see your older self. The one I can take to the grocery store and talk about philosophy, instead of having to wear you in the back carrier so you don't pull everything off the shelves. Or with whom I can watch a great movie, without being stepped on as you jump across the couch.

But then...I remind myself to take the long view. This period of your crazy toddlerhood is so brief. I look over at Jack, now only 4, and that period is already a distant memory. Mygodhowquicklytheygrowup. Someday, you will be a grown man. You might even wear a tie. You might sit quietly through funerals, weddings, and church services. You will not dump drawers as your main recreation. And I'll feel a bit wistful about this time of absolute, wondrous chaos. Where I can look around the house and KNOW it is inhabited by little persons who are throwing themselves into living. All of living. Eating is a sport. Playing is a sport. Everything you do is absolutely magical, because it's new. And that part of you...the newness of your personhood...I will never be able to get back. I might appreciate getting more sleep in the morning. But I will always cherish this time of a miniature human being running across the room to greet me when I come home from shopping. You don't care what I bought. You just want to be held by me. I love you so much, little boy.

Right now, you are next to me on the bed. I have my laptop and am writing to you. You are hiding under the covers and asking me to find you. Between sentences, I lift the comforter and beam at you...and make your whole day every time. You punctuate peek-a-boo with bouncing around the bed a few times. Climbing over on the dresser and jumping on to the bed. And then going over to Simone to kiss and snuggle with her and say, "Hi, baby girl!" This loop of activity spans about a minute and then repeats. And repeats. And repeats. Occasionally, you break up the routine by flipping over the trash can or going over to dump out the drawer of my desk.

Experts might tell me that you're learning about physics or communication skills or something. Who knows. I don't really care. I assume the academics will work themselves out, even if we don't have fancy labels for all your playtime. What I absolutely most want for my children...for to know that you were so incredibly loved. Loved to tears sometimes. Loved so much that it makes my heart feel like it can't hold anymore and might literally burst from my body. When you were sick the other week and daddy held you all night while you puked...there was no other place he wanted to be than comforting his baby boy. Even as my heart sinks as you empty out my pantry minutes before guests come that same breath, I adore how you have an insatiable need to figure things out. Unscrew the hinges from the doors. Perfect your high dive off the couch arm. I want my children to feel loved, and I want them to have an insatiable thirst for what the next door of life might bring. That doesn't seem to be a problem for you, dear Andrew.

We'll make it through this chaos, and there will be new chaos to take its place. There's always something, isn't there? My house might not have food dumped across the kitchen, but maybe legos or books in its place. If I always want you to throw yourself into living, I'm going to have to face the fact that passion isn't always neat and tidy.

Who are you going to be, little man? All I can envision right now is a circus performer or a race car driver. A desk job seems sooooo off-course! ;) And maybe your love for adrenaline will persist. =) But who you are as you work through your toddlerness is such a small layer of who you'll be. I see more of you unfolding every day. There are so many layers to you, I can already see it. I'm excited to watch who you're becoming.

You are so loved, my son. Happy 2nd birthday. I hope you have a great year.

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