Today's Image

A couple of days ago at playgroup, Sam was resting on his stomach on the floor. He spread out his arms and said, "I'm making an airplane." Then he pointed to a friend who was on hands and knees near him, saying, "Noah's making a cat." We all nodded and smiled at him. Then he said, "And 'a' is for airplane, and 'c' is for cat."

The other mothers again nodded and smiled, but I felt a little dazed. "Um, Sam? Who told you that 'airplane' starts with 'a'?"

"I did," he responded with a grin.

Later that night, I told Eric what Sam had said, and he turned to him and said, "Well, what does 'b' start?"

"Some boats!" said Sam. (Then he told us that 'd' is for pumpkin, and I felt oddly reassured.)

He's really getting into letters lately. I found the slip of paper that the midwife had used to record heart tones when I was in labor, and somebody had scribbled all over it in crayon...including some scribbles that weren't scribbles at all, but little letter a's. I went to Sam and asked him about them, since I didn't know he could write any letters at all, let alone legibly. Yep, they were his. He can also write the letters h, t, i, l, p, o, m, and probably a bunch of others that I didn't think to ask him to show me.

It's really kind of stunning. We do word and letter play, sure, but it's nothing I push; if he initiates a game, I'll play along, and that's it. To think that he's teaching himself how to write just blows my mind. Yesterday he found a sticker of a large candy cane and was fascinated by the "J!" He turned it over, and I told him it was a cane. "And 'k' is for cane, right?" he said. I hated to have to correct him; his logic was clear.

Now comes the question of how much correction is, well, correct on my part. I can help him write letters, but how much should I be concerned about how he's actually holding his crayon? Right now he's clenching it in a sort of fist, but I know from experience that if I try too hard to make him do things the "right way," he tends to give up entirely. It's a fine line we walk. For now, I'm inclined to just let him take the lead, and to just let him enjoy the process.

(Mom brought up this book at her last visit, and Sam was thrilled to find his name all throughout the book. Now he thinks that wherever he finds an s, a, and m, be they together or not, he's found his name.)

Gabe's growing so fast, but at the same time, it doesn't feel quite as fast as Sam did. Maybe that's because I have my "big boy" to whom I can compare him; maybe it's because I don't have as much time to sit and simply marvel over him. I also don't get the same reactions from people in public, for some reason. Even though I know both boys were roughly the same size (though Gabe did lose a bit more weight to start), whenever I take Gabe out, people remark over how tiny he is. With Sam, it was "How old is he, three months?" when he was only a few weeks old.

All the same, Gabe amazes me so much more with how social he is, and I think that's because I get to see him interact more with other children - namely, Sam. I mean, I try to burp him, and he's trying to climb over my shoulder to look at his big brother. If I attempt to engage him in a little visual conversation, it lasts only so long as Sam's not in the room, or else he's practically rolling over to see what Sam's up to. At a month old, he wants to play with the big kids. This ought to be an entertaining childhood.

I'm a little alarmed at the fact that he seems to be trying his hand at sleeping through the night already. What's up with that? Since "through the night," in younger babies, is considered to be at least five hours, he's done it for the past couple of nights. My breasts weren't happy, though he positively ravished me upon waking with a loud cry ("Darn it, Mom, I forgot to eat!"). He does more than make up for the missed nursings with marathon sessions in the evening, so I suppose that works out. If things don't change, though, I get the feeling my period will come back to see me a lot earlier than the nineteen month absence I got with Sam.

Also disturbing is that fact that Gabriel loves to watch me eat (when he's actually letting me get to do it, anyway). He peers intently at the food entering my mouth, and he mimics my chewing motions. Now, I'm not about to give a one-month-old solid food any time soon, but I really do doubt we'll be able to hold him off to seven months like we did with Sam in the hopes of avoiding food allergies. (I've been warned that it might have been a lost cause anyway, as apparently big siblings are quite fond of sneaking food into eager younger mouths when Mommy isn't watching.)

I gave him his first "big tub" bath a couple of weeks ago, when he had a major diaper blowout that wipes wouldn't come close to approaching. I got in the tub with him, and he relaxed like soft butter, swishing his legs and trying to dip his whole head under the water. Last week, I tried to give him a bath in his little tub, but his reaction couldn't have been more different. The moment his butt touched the water in the mesh seat, his arms flew up in the air, his face turned red, and he let out a loud, somewhat feral, growl. Then he yelled at me for the duration of the bath, screaming until I managed to quickly finish and get him wrapped in a towel. I guess it's a little different when Mama's not holding you close to her.

My sweet husband continues to cook and hone his skills in that arena. I swear, if he's not careful, for one of these holidays, he's going to wind up with a gift certificate for gourmet cooking classes. A few evenings ago, we agreed to have a "catch as catch can" dinner; I ate leftover pizza, and Eric whipped himself up a concoction of some sort of sauteed, spiced vegetable medley and Chinese noodles. Yesterday he made us nachos for lunch, complete with black beans, scallions, and God knows what all else. It was divine.

I told him, "You're a much better improviser than I am." It's true. Faced with a kitchen larder filled with stock items, I can come up with a meager handful of recipe ideas, and they'll stay pretty much the same from making to making. Eric adapts with each preparation, altering the recipes each time until he's made what can be considered the best end product. Then he takes that recipe and extends it to other forms. Know how to make a good spice blend for your channa masala? Take that, and make an Indian pizza! It's amazing to watch him work.

Sam's impressed, too, with Daddy's cooking. He rarely wants to sample the final product (unless it's homemade ice cream), as his taste preferences don't encompass haute cuisine. Even so, when he sees Eric go to work in the kitchen, he's right beside him, begging to help. Last night, the two of them made great chapati bread together. I can only hope that we're doing wonderful favors for Sam's future spouse in this.

In fact, Sam's already begun to take after Eric in the realm of improvisation. A few nights ago, Eric was making meat pies while also steaming a few eggs to hard-boiled for Sam (a favorite food of his). Sam suddenly came up with the idea of putting hard-boiled eggs in the meat pies! It seemed a plausible idea, so Eric tried it. It was pretty tasty, too. I guess the skill for recipe visualization is hereditary.

With all the development and learning going on around me, it's easy to feel like I'm the stagnant one in the family. Physically, I'm still working to recover from Gabe's birth. I just stopped bleeding for good a few days ago, after all, and my poor body picked up a sore throat illness and a possible UTI in the meantime. I don't have time to read the back of a cereal box, let alone get to the library. For days, now, I've been meaning to start work on knitting a stocking cap for Gabe, but I can't even seem to get to the basement to check my yarn stash for a skein of red.

But I'm still trying. If I'm not reading for myself, well, I am helping a little boy learn to read for the first time. If my health is shaky, well, I'm helping build another human's immune system through lots and lots of breastmilk. If I'm not cooking, I am...well, I'm appreciating Eric's food. But I'm also buying him kitchen-related Christmas stuff! So there!

And it all looks better from that angle. I may not be the star of the show at the moment, but I'm the agent. I'm the facilitator. That's a pretty important role, too, isn't it?

previous one year ago:
Warning: if you have a dental phobia and are feeling particularly sensitive today, you may not want to read this.
two years ago:
I'll just touch the white stuff instead. "Snow," you called it?
three years ago:
We encountered a new problem with this trip: the guinea pigs no longer fit into the car with us now that Sam's in the backseat.
four years ago:
I'd like nothing more than not to have to worry about when I am visibly pregnant.
five years ago:
"It's not a trailer, it's a house!" Pause, more calmly, "It's a double-wide."
In the ears:
Disney channel

On the Bookshelf:

Gratuitous Sam

Starry eyes


Napping brothers

Extra Gabe





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