Yesterday I walked into a room, said that very same greeting out loud to you — “Hi Bud” — and you immediately said it right back to me. It was quite shocking, and Mom and I gave each other a now-typical wide-eyed, stunned, did-you-see-that kind of look. But in the larger scheme of things, it wasn’t shocking at all — you’ve been on a streak of mimicry for weeks now.
It started one afternoon when we were playing together, and I heard you making a strange noise. I turned around to find you playing with a tissue — which you do frequently these days, when your parents are too slow to hide the Kleenex boxes. You had it up to your face, and you were blowing your nose. Except you weren’t actually blowing your nose, you were just making the raspberry sound. Later that day, after I had taken all the fun tissues away, you saw me blow my nose for real, and, lacking any tissues yourself, you put your hand up to your face and made the sound again. Agonizingly cute.
There are other parroting tricks. You clear your throat (actually more like a closed-mouth grunt). You do a little jig — your version of dancing. You beat out a rhythm on your own tummy and chest, mimicking Dad doing the same. You’ve lately been leaning your head to one side and smiling like an adorable little maniac, and I’m not sure if that’s mimicry or just a special move you made up. I am now seizing the opportunity and trying to teach you to bow, but it’s not taking. To be fair, it’s not the kind of thing you get to see me do around the house. Maybe I should change that.
I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating. Every time you show significant development, which is close to every other day now, I think “Oh hooray, this is the Cute Phase.” And then the next day you do something more amazing, and more cute, and I think the same thing again. I’ve been falling into this trap this since you were a wee tot, and you’d think I’d learn, but, as you may realize, every age is a whole new experience for me, too.
I was thinking about this last week and one word kept popping into my head to describe this latest phase of yours: deliberate. You’ve been walking for a couple months and you’re still speaking mostly the same old baby blather, but suddenly it all seems much less arbitrary. Your walk has a purpose to it, and while the words you say make no sense, you seem to use the same ones when addressing the same objects. You clearly know where you want to go in the world (countertops), how to get there (hoisted by parent), and what you want to do when you do (open and close microwave door, press buttons on radio, make phone calls to India). It’s the first time you’ve seemed much more like a little boy, and much less like a big baby. And yet, when I try to challenge you in chess, you just knock the pieces over and put the queen in your mouth. So there’s room to grow.
You proved yourself to be the charmingest of little boys recently in an week-long mettle-testing trip to New York City. This was your second trip there, the first exactly one year earlier, and as a fully mobile, demanding little toddler, we were fearful for ourselves, for our gracious hosts, and for all the strangers we’d have to interact with on the planes and subway cars. Like always, you charmed ‘em all. There were some rough spots, sure — your screams on the JFK tarmac were coming close to breaking FAA regulations — but mostly you were a pleasure to travel with. Our biggest fear was the subway, which we rode frequently during our 6 days there, and we weren’t sure how you’d stay still. We were right that you wouldn’t, instead choosing to walk up and down the middle of the car, gripping one pole, then the next, then the next, then turning around and coming back again, all while I hustled behind you. You suffered frequent falls, some broken by kind strangers offering out a helping foot. We made judicious use of the baby wipes.
You were a big hit out there with all our friends and family. We love showing you off, and you sure do love the attention. I hear a rumor all that won’t last forever, but we got some time to worry about that. In the meanwhile, we’ll await the next set of tricks, and the next chance to be amazed at our little man.