Yesterday you turned sixteen months old. You say uh oh when you drop things and cover your ears with your hands, mischievously, as if by plugging your ears you silence the world for us all. But there is little silence in your company these days. I now feel the full comfort of your companionship in the way you share your [quite vocal] input as we shop for groceries, and grab a ‘phone’ to join in when I’m chatting with a friend [the blue tooth weirds you out though- you stare at me with concern like I’m talking to the voices in my head- which I guess I am?] You’re less a baby and more a child with each passing day. I thought I might mourn this state of transition but how can I when we’re so busy having fun? From your love of marching around in your monkey hat to the way you fall on me laughing each morning- you’re just so much fun.
This month playing with toys while Mama had toast and tea for breakfast became totally passe. Instead, one morning, you guided me to your seat and requested to join me in this morning ritual. Now, most days, we take tea and toast together [though your tea is, um, water] and chat about life, and while I’m not entirely sure what we’re talking about- this is not unlike many conversations I’ve had. Your naps are now singular, but blessedly long enough to let me fit in yoga and lunch- and now when you wake? You no longer burst into tears, hysterical until you see my face- instead you call out for me and play with your toys knowing full well I’ll come get you- and when I do- your grin- that wattage could light Turner Field.
But my favorite development this month? You love books. I admit I worried books just wouldn’t be your thing despite assurances from others that not all babies are bookworms straight out of the womb. Until now you couldn’t be bothered. There were antennas to bend, toilet paper to unroll, and other Very Important Business. This month you’ve climbed into my lap each day and for thirty minutes we’ve read together, your mind-body-soul fully engaged. Are You My Mother? Pelle’s Suit. These were stories my parents read to me. Reading them to you? Special doesn’t begin to cover it. Your favorite stories are Little Kitten, and Hurry, Hurry. Anytime a duck graces any page you squeal ducky and lean in to kiss the page. And while a playground beats book learning any day of the week- if you could live in a playground you just might- I’m simply thankful you finally appreciate books.
Your nana and nani came to visit the weekend following Eid– I’d like to think they came to celebrate my birthday- but I know better- they take those sixteen hour round trip drives for 48 hours of the pleasure of your company. You spent the long weekend clinging to them or showing off all the marvelous things you do like push a laundry basket around the house like a shopping cart, or turning a coffee table into an obstacle course. When it was time for them to leave, you watched them perched on my hip with an expression of confusion- and then I saw the realization pass over your face as the car pulled away- they were leaving- and for the first time ever, you wept. So did I. At your age all my relatives lived an ocean away- to see your comfortable, familiar interactions with your extended family makes me realize how much I missed and makes me so grateful that you never will.
You’re lucky to be surrounded by so much love Waleed. Life is full of people. Some we are tied to be by blood. Some we run into on the streets and chat with in passing, some become our friends, while some remain strangers and nothing more. Sometimes the tie of these relationships feels comforting like a child’s security blanket- other time it feels suffocating like a noose around your neck. Hold on to the relationships that help you grow, release the ones that taint your heart like black ink. The ones who love you will always love you unconditionally- the ones who love you will never make you feel small or unworthy because you are neither of these things. You are Waleed– my son. A living, walking, breathing, blessing. Never forget this singular truth.