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Dear Zella: Month Six

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Dear Zella,

The day after you turned six months old, you tumbled headfirst out of the car. I had plunked you in your carseat and run to the other side of the car to strap your brother in, afraid he’d bolt across the parking lot while waiting for me to buckle you in. I thought, “Zella’s just a baby, what can she possibly do?” And you heard me thinking it, and thought, “I’d better show Mama who she’s dealing with.” Up, up, up you sat, and over and out you fell, in strangely slow motion, ending cheek-down on the wet pavement.

You cried, of course, and I freaked out, but within minutes, you were flashing me huge grins and kicking happy, chubby bruise-free limbs up and down while enjoying your sympathy nurse.

And then the next day, you crawled right off the bed.

So, my dear, I’m going to be keeping a bit more of an eye on you. While your brother generally looks before he leaps, you appear to be shaping up to be a risk-taker.

Half of your sixth month was spent in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. We went to the beach almost every day, and you proved yourself unafraid of a faceful of sand or a dip in a chilly lake. You took hikes with us, sleeping in the Ergo while your brother ran ahead, and you experimented with sitting in a high chair at restaurants like a big kid. And you charmed everyone you met with your easy, wide smile.

That smile. It’s like flipping a switch. One moment you can be crying or sleeping, the next you are smiling wide, your tongue flipped all the way back to the roof of your mouth as if to help you contain the volume of joy threatening to spill out of you. Sometimes it leads to your full, throaty giggle. Where your brother favored short bursts of laughter, that required pretty careful coaxing, you require only the most cursory tickle of the armpits or nibbling of the toes to break into a roar. “Tickle, tickle, giggle, giggle!” your brother yells as he glides in to get a piece of the action.

You’re not fully crawling, if we are only counting the classic hands-and-knees version. But you’re very mobile, using your arms and toes to propel you across the room if you get tired of sitting (erect, unassisted, and using both hands to grab for toys, of course). If I turn my back, it can sometimes take a minute to locate you when I turn back around. You are under the chair or behind a table, usually reaching out for one of Ezra’s toys in order to taste it. It is no coincidence that he suddenly began practicing saying “mine” this month.

Toys are not the only things you are desperate to put in your mouth. I have read lots of stuff about babies “showing interest in solid food,” but Ezra, while perfectly happy to eat it, didn’t seem to care much either way. You are obsessed. It’s difficult to eat a meal with you on our laps anymore, because you spend the whole time divebombing our plates and hands.

So, solid foods, here we come. You thought the avocado and banana you licked off my fingers in Wisconsin were peachy keen, and we’re going to start sweet potatoes and cereals and meats this month. I’m also excited to try you with a sippy cup, since bottles were never your cup of tea.

We’ve had some hard nights this month, where the teething I think you are going through made you want to nurse and yell constantly and simultaneously. But even in the middle of the night, with your fists full of my hair and your mouth locked hopefully onto one of my cheeks, I can’t help but think you’re pretty cute.

With love and bandaids for my fearless girl,

Mama

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