Dear Leo: 20 months

Dear Leo,

A few days ago you turned 20 months, putting you solidly closer to 2 than to 1. Just yesterday I took a photo of you at the park and bam! you were a little boy. Life is often funny like that. You’re going about your business just like every other day and then you look up to realize that everything has changed.

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Last night you were up between 3:30-4:30 because you have another cold so this letter might be short. So now without further ado, in no particular order, and without an overarching theme except for “write it down, quick! before he wakes up from his nap!” are a few things that we have noticed about you, at 20 months:

***Probably because I wrote about your independence last time and you secretly read this blog and want to mess with my head, since I last wrote you have been going through a clingy phase (at home, mostly). What I mean is this: if we are happily playing “fire truck” in the living room and I tell you that I am going to leave the room to pee, it is as if I am suggesting we don’t see each other any more. Ever. You fling yourself at me, and the door if I have been successful at making a quick exit. You throw yourself to the floor, weeping. You give me your best puppy dog eyes, while your lip quivers through plaintive “mama, mama, mama’s.” It is hard. We are in the middle of learning that people come and go. Grandma and Grandpa went home on a “pane” a few weeks ago and now when you see their photo you say “bye bye.” Yesterday “Dado” left for three days on a trip to Strasbourg. He wasn’t here this morning. People come and go. People will always come and go. It sucks. Sometimes this makes me feel like flinging myself to the floor and weeping, too. What I am trying to teach you these days is that coming and going is a part of life. That I will leave you. That Dado will leave you. And that we will always come back. Whether we are separated by a 2 min trip to the toilet or thousands of kilometers (when you no doubt one day leave us to live in some far away place), we will always come back.

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***In March we flew on a “pane” to Lyon to visit your “Tata” Emma (this is a whole other blog post). While there we went to the best park ever – the Tete d’Or – for your first visit to a zoo! The most magical thing about the park is that if you don’t read about it ahead of time (sorry, I’m ruining this for you dearest readers) you might be all walk, walk, walk, take a selfie, walk, take out a paddle boat, walk, stop to look at the rose garden, walk, walk, walk WHEN ALL OF A SUDDEN THERE ARE GIRAFFES. We knew about the giraffes and it was still so exciting. I wasn’t sure whether you’d be that interested in the animals, but you absolutely loved it. It was really fun to see you so engaged. I think your favorites were the “raffes” and the “ooo ooo ooo’s (monkeys)” and the lions (“rawr!”). On our second visit we saw the panther (tiger?) pace aggressively around its cage and you seemed to love him, too.

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***Last time I wrote, your language had just started to take off. Now you pretty much seem to learn a new word every day and have been making the funniest associations. As I mentioned in my post about the wild ponies, you know the word for poop. About a month ago we were sitting in the kitchen and I farted. You looked at me with a quizzical expression and said, “Poop poop?” As in, like, did you just poop your pants? I laughed until I cried. Sorry if that was confusing for you. We’re currently working on the word “fart.” Sometimes you start using a word that we haven’t actively been trying to teach you, and it is always so fun to see what you notice. This week you were pointing to something at dinner and whining and when I asked you to just tell me what it was you wanted you cocked your head to the side and looked at me like I was a fool and said, “WINE.” Your dad and I tried to smother our laughter while discussing whether to be proud or concerned that you knew this word already.

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*** You remain obsessed with cars and trucks and things that go. Recently, you can’t seem to get enough of trains, particularly the trains in Jude’s room because those ones are antiques and off limits. You wake up many mornings (and in fact last night) whining, “Choo choo, choo choo,” as if perhaps today might be the day that you can play with them.  Every now and then Jude will hook up the electrical and give the old trains a few laps around the track and your whole body vibrates with excitement. This doesn’t help the whole “no, you cannot go into Jude’s room and touch his delicate and intricate train set-up” situation, but it is worth it for the joy on your face. You recognized early on that trucks often beep while backing up and lately you’ve started backing up yourself (I think this is a developmental thing, this walking backwards) and making the same beeping noise. It’s really funny an endearing. You also still adore “dohgs.”

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***You still like to eat the things I mentioned last time, only I will add that you now want to “try” everything with more insistence. “Try, try, try!” you’ll shout. It’s hard to argue with that, even when it means my planned lunch leftovers of Rogan Josh curry dwindle remarkably. You now consistently drink out of a glass (with a straw sometimes), and eat with a “poon” and a “bow.” While you are not a voracious eater at home, you always seem to find the parents handing out snacks at the park and have gotten very good at wondering over, waving “hi” and putting forward your best charm offensive in order to get in on the “nacks.” It almost always works out well for you.

***Just after I wrote last time your Uncle “Dim!” came for a visit and you learned to say “money!” and that watches make a quiet “tic tic tic” noise if you hold them gently to your ear. You loved walking into Uncle Dim’s room and playing with all of the things on his night table (money, glasses, watch) so much that for a few days after he left you would still toddle in there, just to see.

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***Over Dado’s school break we had adventures in Bournemouth, Swanage, the New Forest, Salisbury, Bath, and Wales (posts coming). Then Grandma and Grandpa arrived and we flew to Lyon to see Tata as I mentioned. You have been such a champion traveler, sleeping in cars and “rains” and Ubers and hiking backpacks and “panes” and different bedrooms and different beds for what seemed like weeks on end. I worried about all of the travel, and I shouldn’t have. You were up for it. You were ready. You’d got this.

***This week I let you help me make dinner for the first time (because you so enjoyed it with your Tata in Lyon). I “chop chop chop” and you put the carrots and onions and leeks and “taytoes” into the pan to be roasted under the “bok bok.” You were  very serious about this task, and taste tested quite a few of the carrots just to make sure they were good. Last night you scooped all of the dry pasta out of one bowl and put it into another bowl while the water boiled. You – like most kids this age? – love to work around the house and I hope this trend continues. Taking care of the place you live is important and meaningful work. I have lots of thoughts about what this means for you as a male person, especially, but right now I am just trying to show you that taking care of a place matters.

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***You continue to be utterly charming with strangers, making new friends easily. You often take the initiative, and sometimes seem to try different tactics in order to get other people’s attention. For example, if there is an interesting person on the tube who is not paying attention to you, you will work your magic until they do. I really love that about you. Right now you only have the word “man” for humans other than “babies” and this is somewhat awkward when you happily point at women walking down the street and shout with glee, “MAN!” Right now we are working on other ways to greet people, like waving (which you enjoy) or saying “hi” and smiling (you are also quite good at this). Your penchant for calling all children “baby” is sweet, although we discovered that perhaps you just use this term for smaller humans when at a market in Lyon you spotted an extremely elderly (and very short) woman and shouted, “BABY!” Hopefully, she took that as a compliment.

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***The other day grandma, grandpa and I were eating lunch with you and laughing about something or other when you crowed at us to get our attention and then did a spot on impression of my laugh – head back, eyes squinted shut, body shaking. It was brilliant, and you knew it. This week we were eating the roast “bok bok” leftovers for lunch when you told me you wanted the “bone” and proceeded to gnaw away at it just like “dado.” You loved it. It is so much fun to see you take delight in being silly. Grandma taught you twinkle twinkle while she was here and it is fun to hear you sing it to yourself and make little flickering star motions with your hands stretched up. We watched the boat races down along the Thames and ever since then you have clapped and cheered whenever you see a photo of a boat on the water. Your enthusiasm for cheering spilled over into another sport when you watched a brief snippet of baseball with your dad a few weeks ago and raised your little clenched fists into the air with excitement. I am sure it was even more thrilling for him than it was for you.

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*** You and I still have our early morning routine heading “owside” for an adventure. In fact, if I even try to deviate from the post breakfast coats, boots, hats situation you start to lose it, imploring me “owside, owside, owside.” For the past few months we’ve been making the same trek to Chiswick Park, just down the road. We enter through the gate and spot the heron at the end of the pond. We walk past the “tree” stump, and towards the “up up up” (bridge). We peer through the bridge posts at the geese and the ducks and then walk fast “down down down” and along the path towards the “finx” (sphinx, for real!) at Chiswick House. Sometimes if we are lucky the groundskeepers are mowing the lawn! Then past the “fall” (water fall) and along the pond towards the bend in the water by the bridge where the “babies” (goslings) like to hang out. We have met so many different people at the park: nuns, German tourists, new parents on their first trip outside the house with a 2-day old babe, parents biking their kids to school, teenagers practicing hip hop dance moves on the way to school, dog walkers, and our regulars. Lately whenever we meet someone by the goslings, they always ask, “Still eight?” and smile when we confirm. I love that these goslings are a common interest for so many different sorts of people. I am certain that most of these people have different views on Brexit and mayonnaise, immigration and the Royal Family, but they all love these goslings. I guess what I am trying to say is that loving something outside yourself is a good thing because it widens your world view, and can introduce you to all sorts of interesting people.

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We love you so much, darling boy.

xoxo

Mama

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