Dear Brooklynn, Today you are one year old. Just step back and consider that for a moment. One year ago today, your mother and I were gearing up for a long night in what would be the first of many long nights. I heard a statistic that new parents lose over 700 hours of sleep the first year of having a baby. I believe it.
Do you remember when you were little and brand new?
It's ok. Neither do we. We have pictures that seems to indicate at one time you were tiny, immobile, and generally unresponsive to the world, but it gets a little hazy after those 700 hours of not sleeping.
Now, you are walking around. You have teeth (four of them). You are are still little and cute and you now have a whole lot of attitude for someone of your size. There are times when we ask you politely not to play in the big potted plant by the stairs or to stop attempting to pull our TV down on top of yourself, and you look at us, smile, and go back to doing whatever we just kindly asked you to stop. It's like you think your cuteness and baby-status will get you out of whatever trouble you might be in.
The hard part is that you know better. I've personally watched you crawl past the plant, stop, look around to see if anyone is watching, and then start to grab handfuls of dirt. (Hint for the future: if you're going to be sneaky, you also have to check the upstairs balcony to make sure we're not standing there.) When I said your name, you looked startled for a second and then a little guilty, like you were just caught with your hand in the cookie jar, assuming we had one of those.
You smiled your little two-tooth grin, looked at me with an aw-shucks, you got me expression, and reached back for another handful. I was forced to use my voice of authority to tell you no (something your mother doesn't believe I posses), and you proceeded to stick out your bottom lip, let it quiver, wait for the tears to well up in your eyes, and then collapse in a sobbing puddle on the floor. I probably feel worse about the whole experience than you do, because a minute and a couple yogurt snacks later, you were happily playing with some blocks like the whole thing never happened.
Each day, we seem to find a little bit more of the person you are becoming. You like to wave bye-bye, typically 10 seconds after someone has completely left the room. You will give hugs and kisses but only when you are in the mood. Sometimes I'm not sure if you are giving me a kiss or tasting my cheek, but I choose to believe that I am not raising a cannibal, so I go with the kiss. You are also becoming a little shy around people you don't know, hiding behind our legs or burying your face in our shoulder when strangers get a little too close.
Mom has been staying at home with you during her summer break, and the two of you are becoming very close. There are times that you cry when she tries to hand you over to me to hold and, while I know it's more that you still want her more than you don't want me, I have to admit it's a little hard for me sometimes. Don't worry; I forgive. She assures me that someday, I will be the favorite parent (and then she mumbles something about how I don't have the authoritative voice or disposition so she will be the disciplinarian in the house).
You like both of us equally well when we are helping you to get around, and oh how you get around. You are walking on your own as long as you have somewhere to go. Like, OUTSIDE! You love to walk OUTSIDE, especially in the street because the street has much better texture than the boring old sidewalk. Why would we want to go inside when we could be OUTSIDE in the street or in a swing or attempting to climb into the garden? Silly parents, wanting to go inside.
Sometimes, it seems like we have to lure you back inside with the promise of food. Cheerios, yogurt bites, fruit bits. Your basic baby food groups really. You like hamburgers and pulled pork and chicken. You'll eat peas and carrots and bits of bread and pancakes. And then, even when you are refusing all food, if we happen to have some of treat for dessert, we will feel a small hand on an arm and find you looking at us as if to say, I see you have something tasty that I would also like to partake in. Like ice cream. You love ice cream. I think if we could just figure out some way to make eating ice cream OUTSIDE all day long an ok activity, we would never hear you cry.
Not that you cry alot. Right now, your top two teeth are coming in and we can tell they bother you because you have been unusually fussy. Somedays, we really wish you could talk to us and tell us what's wrong. Somedays, it seems like you really wish you could talk to us, too. While we haven't heard any consistent uses of a first word, there are times when you look at us and repeat the same sequence of babble three time in a row, each time pausing to see if maybe we might be intelligent enough to comprehend. Sadly, we aren't. It becomes harder to learn new languages the older you are, so your best chance at reliable communication is to learn English.
It isn't to say that your parents just wildly guess at what you want. We can tell when you're tired, and all we have to do is hand you your blanket and set you in the crib. You cuddle up, put a corner of the blanket in your mouth, and go to sleep all on your own. For that, I think you deserve all the ice cream and outside you can handle.
One year old. In the grand scheme of what I hope is a long and happy life for you, it's pretty insignificant. In fact, by the time another few years have passed, you won't remember any of what happened this past year. Maybe you'll look at some of the pictures we have and watch some of the videos. Maybe you'll even read some of these words that I have written and try to imagine yourself as a tiny baby. But trust me, even though you won't remember any of this, your mother and I will never forget. And no matter how big and mature you get, you'll always be our baby girl.