This morning we had a friend come over for coffee. We all sat in the family room, Elie and me on the floor with Theo, playing. He was toddling back and forth between Elie and me, laughing and crinkling up his nose, squinting his eyes and snorting in the way he does now when he is very excited and proud of himself. As his parents, we think it’s adorable. Every time the kitty walked by, he lunged for a kiss, and we checked to make sure he wasn’t too vigorous with his love.
Our friend said, “Is he always this happy?”
Lucky for us, he is. As Theo has grown older, he has developed into a quick-to-laugh, ticklish, giggling, playful little boy. And he is at that magical age when a baby becomes a toddler, and suddenly he can initiate games of hide-and-seek or run and tackle us from across the room. He’s curious about everything, and so he loves to go out and explore, be it a restaurant or a store or someone else’s house. Every other new parent knows and understands this feeling of giddy, over-the-top love for their child.
Are you bored with me saying how much he has developed in this past month? In this first year, it’s certainly true. After he turns one year, I will transition these updates to yearly, or bi-yearly at the most. But for now, he changes daily and I want to remember every single milestone, every sweet victory.
While he was walking a little at 10 months, at 11 months he dropped our hands and now marches proudly around the house, circling through the kitchen and family room and back again. It’s obvious at how thrilled he is with this achievement, and we cheer him on every chance we get. While everyone warns you that things get busy once they start walking, we’re actually loving it. Theo is so much happier now that he’s able to get around independently, and so it’s made it easier on everyone. Now, I can cook dinner and talk to him while he runs circles around the kitchen island, or he’ll explore every corner of the bedroom while I’m making the bed and folding laundry. We sing songs and he stops to dance or stomp his feet. It really is a sweet, magical time.
I’ve been surprised at how much he likes to help already. He loves the vacuum, and when I ask him if he wants to help me, he waves his arms and runs over. I’ll either put him in the Ergo, or I’ll let him help me hold the handle while we sweep. He loves helping Elie make coffee in the morning, and he knows exactly which button to press to turn on the machine and which button to press to grind the beans. And when I unload the dishwasher, I’ll hold him and he’ll drop spoons and forks into the drawer. I hope this is a sign that he will still help me clean when he gets older.
And how much he understands! So much so that we are starting to be careful about what we say in front of him. While he may not understand nuanced conversation, he can follow almost any directive we give him, like “Do you want to take a bath?” (He excitedly walks us to the bathroom) and he picks up new things every single day. He still doesn’t say much (Dada and kitty), and he still just laughs when I ask him to say “Mama.” The other day, I said, “Theo, say Mama.” He looked at me and said, “Dada!” I swear, I almost felt like he was winking at me, the little rascal.
He does a little sign language when he feels like it, but most of the time, he refuses. Instead of signing “more,” he makes this loud barking sound, and the more I ask him to sign, the louder the barking becomes. And instead of signing “all done,” he throws food off of his tray. I guess it’s effective, because I know exactly what he means. I’m sure he’ll start signing in his own sweet time.
If you’ve been reading along for awhile, you know how much Theo enjoys eating. This month, he started sharing food. If we ask for a piece of his pancake, he’ll pick up a piece and offer it to us. When he first started doing it, we would just pretend to eat it, but now he won’t stop offering until we actually eat the food.
Even though Theo has a great appetite and eats breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, he still nurses frequently. With the walking and constant discovery, Theo is busy, busy, busy, and he doesn’t seem to know how to rest unless he’s nursing. When he gets tired, he’ll come tug at my legs, and I know he needs a break. I don’t have any clear plans for stopping nursing, and my hope is that he will just gradually become less and less interested. Right now, however, he still nurses before every nap, when he needs a break, at bedtime, and several times a night.
Which brings us to sleep. I write these posts so I can remember the reality of what this time has been long, the good along with the bad. And sleep has definitely been our nemesis this year. Theo fights every nap and almost every bedtime, and sleeping through the night still feels like an elusive dream. After we got home from Hawaii, he settled into a pretty good schedule of napping from 9:30 – 11:00 and 2:00 – 3:30 and then sleeping from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., waking a few times at night to nurse. It was wonderful, and it only lasted a few weeks. When his walking really took off, he started refusing the second nap and waking up between 5:00 and 5:30 a.m. again. Sigh. We’re trying to formulate a plan for getting him to like his sleep, because I’m tired.
I can’t believe our baby will be turning one in just a little over a week. We're throwing a ridiculously big party for Theo's first birthday. Of course, he won't remember it. But we will. And he will be surrounded by the friends and family who are going to love on him and support him and help him to grow into himself. Because we certainly don't do parenthood alone, and I'm so grateful we don't have to. Theo is a lucky little boy to have amazing role models in his life, and we can't wait to celebrate with many of them next month.
This post was written when Theo was 11 1/2 months old.