Today you are six months old, and it is my 35th birthday. I noticed the coincidence of our half-birthdays on the night you were born, and I think it will be great fun for us in a few years when you start to understand the ebb and flow of the calendar year. I’m writing this surrounded by all the trappings of my yearly birthday latke-and-egg brunch, and wondering what birthday traditions we’ll come up with for you in exactly six months. Which is, apparently, right around the corner, since this six month milestone sure snuck up on me.
I think the time moves so fast because you are changing before my eyes every single day.
One day you couldn’t roll over from your tummy to your back, but the next day you could. One day you were content lying on your tummy and pushing your head up, but the next day I put you down and you bent your knees and got up on all fours. One day your locomotion across the floor seemed like the random result of your twists and turns, but the next day I watched you identify something you wanted to see closer and then get yourself over to it. (It was an electrical cord. I am in trouble.) One day you rolled and pushed and pulled and eventually got where you wanted to go, but the next day you pulled arm over arm over arm to move directly toward your goal. You’re not quite full-on crawling, but I’m sure that tomorrow that will all change.
One day you sat up tentatively, wobbling and falling almost immediately, but the next day you were stronger and the day after that you could hold toys and sit straight up without losing your balance. One day you were content with whatever toys I put out for you on your blanket, but the next day you noticed there were other toys in the basket and made it your business to get them. Suddenly you’re also noticing when there are other babies around, and making it your business to poke and prod and lick them.
One day you did not have teeth, but the next day I could feel tiny sharp bumps poking through your gums, and the next day I could see two tiny white teeth. One day you had never eaten anything at all except my breastmilk, but the next day you had tried sweet potatoes. Maybe for my birthday we’ll try an avocado.
Your personality is beginning to take hold, and I’m fascinated by how focused you can be. You seem to really like bathtime, but it’s not all giggles and coos. You appear to be, methodically and with great vigor, attempting to get all the water out of the tub. You stare straight ahead and bang your limbs while shouting pep talks to yourself. Your dad said, “it’s kind of like it’s his job.”
You have lots of jobs that you take very seriously. Like locating the secret nipple that you are sure is on my face somewhere. You carefully examine stretches of my skin with your fingers and mouth, like an archaeologist on an expedition. (If I’m not available, you’re committed to seeing what you can find on the faces, or even feet, of others). If I lean over you while you’re lying on your back, you grab my arms, open your mouth wide, and arduously pull yourself up to my face like a mountain climber. Sometimes while you’re nursing, I’ll find you tapping various locations on my chest, like you’re using the time to explore the area for hidden treasures.
You are a joyful kid, and you love being with people and showing off your huge grin. But you work hard, and you expect us to work hard too. Your smiles are easy; your giggles are much more elusive. Your father and I constantly work on new ways to coax the addictive sound out of you (his trick is beard-tickly-kisses and mine is tummy raspberries). The hard-won giggle is low and throaty and short: “Heh-heh-heh. Heh.”
Your giggles may be short but your stories are long, and involve an amazing range of sounds. I’m fascinated to hear your voice evolve from the stream of “oooh“s and “mmm“s. Two nights ago, I got up to nurse you in the middle of the night, and you made some sounds that were so wordlike that I gasped.
We spend most days together, and while I’ve always loved being with you, it’s truly becoming more and more fun as you become more you. I like you, kid, and I like hanging out with you and having dance parties in the kitchen and wiping off big wet sweet potato-y kisses from my cheeks. And if tomorrow you come up with a whole new set of favorite activities, as I’m sure you will, I think I’m going to like those too.
Happy half-birthday, sweet boy.