Sixteen candles. In months, that is. And oh, what a lovely light they make. Not even half as lovely as your soul-light, which beams around you everywhere. I swear I’ve seen it shoot from your curious eyes, emit from your mouth with a giggle, and escape with your gentle breath while you dream at night. It is your light, the purest I know, that manages to both warm me and melt me at once. It warms my loneliest and chilliest and craziest of days – the ones where I can’t even manage to emerge from my house with my shoes on and hair done…and melts my fears and worries. And then, when I’m a puddle of melted Mama-mush, I’m still left with just your light. Oh, lovely, lovely light.
This month, you noticed a new light, that of your sister moon. You point up into the never-ending desert sky, shrouded in night and stars, and proclaim, “Moon!” as if you are discovering it for the first time. In the car, you peer out the windows and ask, searchingly, “Moon?” Sometimes we can find it through the moon-roof and on nights like tonight, I take you outside before bed to gaze at its polished shine. The slight breeze lifts your fine hair and the moon seems to calm you, to reassure you that life continues it its ritual, cyclical way. It calms me too, baby.
Girl, you can run. And you run even faster buck naked. Limber and lithe, I watch your sun-kissed, compact body as your feet lift from the ground, miraculously placing themselves one in front of the other. You seem to not be astounded by this feat, which makes me smile. You sometimes trip over yourself, falling gently to the carpeted floor and laughing. Then, almost like clockwork, you pee-pee on the carpet (you even can say “pee-pee”). I discovered that you know to wipe it up with a cloth, as I always do. You do this without me ever having taught it to you. You find a sock, a bib, any piece of cloth and squat over your pee-pee spot to start wiping away. Yesterday, as I followed you to clean up the spot with a bit more elbow grease, I noticed you down the hall squatting again, wiping with one of your socks. You had pee-pee’d in numerous spots and had recalled each of them, running over to clean up after yourself. Smarty pee-pee pants! You also like to poop naked, but hell, who wouldn’t?
My heart leapt a mile when, a few days ago, you exclaimed with a southern drawl “Baaay-by”. Now, you say “Baby” when you see your doll, which you cradle and chatter at, as if sharing some delicious secret. You put a binky in her mouth and sometimes, in your car seat, I catch you with your chubby finger stuck into the hole of her plastic mouth…just content as can be. I put her in a small, makeshift sling made from a sick scarf, like I’d seen your friend Julianna Banana do, and you carried her proudly next to your tiny, pit-pattering heart. You even fed her crackers once.
Kaia, I love your unconstrained, unchained glee. I witness this when you run into a room, lower yourself on your back, and kick your feet, scratch your back, and shake your head in one big ol’ motion. This frolic is always accompanied with a merry little giggle and squinty happy eyes. I think you are rubbing your spirit into the ground, from where you were born…releasing some if it, reconnecting, and rejuvenating.
If a 16 month old is capable of coveting, you covet two things: shoes and food. A great combination, I think. You are adept at walking in high heels, mostly because that is the only type of shoe (besides Daddy’s) in our house. You clop-clop-clop through the kitchen in mules and peep-toes and pumps. And you are mostly naked when you do this. And have just pee-pee’d.
And no food can get past you, my sweetest thing. I think you learned this from our dog. A package tearing open is enough to send you into a fit, as you peer up and frantically sign “More” while simultaneously repeating the phrase (“Mo’, Mo’, Mo’). “Mo’” always manages to sound pathetic, as if you’ve been famished for days. Tonight in the Old Navy dressing room, you explored in my purse and found my Canadian, Pepto-Bismol pink wint-o-green mints. You had to have them. I relented and you ended up with chalky, pink drool dripping down your chin while we checked out. Join the club: both I and your Daddy are addicted to these things (Grams, you know exactly what we’re talking about). Sometimes, in the mornings when I ask what you’d like to eat you say “Egg”. Other times, when I offer up what used to be your fav fare (broccoli, veggie nuggets) you grimace and shake your head back and forth with a “Pfffftttt” noise. But, you shovel…no, I’m not kidding…SHOVEL mandarin oranges in your mouth, literally one after another. My love, you don’t even chew them, you inhale them like a vacuum, shoveling handful after handful as if you were in the final round of a mandarin-orange eating contest. Your friend Ember thinks this is so hilarious that she keeps a can of mandarin oranges on hand just to feed you when she babysits.
You say “Bill” now, which is one of your doggie’s nicknames. And, with Bill, you play many games such as “Keep Away”, “Here, have my leftover food:”, “Tug-o-War”, and “Dress Up”. While getting ready one morning, I heard you giggle and laugh in the bedroom. I peeked over to see you placing clothes on Bill, one at a time. You’d draped some over his head, to where only one of his eyes was visible. You laid a few articles of clothes on his back, and one over his snoot. He looked at me with his one eye as if to say “Please save me from the terror”, but like a good Bill, he played along. You’ll be best friends for a long time and I’m so glad. I, too, had a Bill growing up and there’s nothing like that unconditional, wet-kissed, furry, tail-wagging love.
We worked hard to show you how to sign “Help” since you inherited my short temper and lack of patience. You get mighty frustrated if you can’t put a block in the right hole, or get a shoe on correctly the first try, or unscrew a cap to a sippy cup. Last week, you signed “Help” and verbalized it for the first time. Daddy and I thought it was so endearing that we sought out situations to lead you to ask for our help. You look like a little gorilla, gently pounding your chest and staring up with dark, vulnerable eyes. You grunt: “Haup”. But, it’s worked: you now ask for help in many of the aforementioned situations, and we appreciate that you are able to communicate your needs. And, ohhhh, how I love meeting those needs of yours, my girlie! That’s the craziness of Mamahood…meeting needs both exhausts us and restores us at the same time.
My love, what it boils down to this month is that you are just a lot of fun. I could watch you and study you for hours. You be-bop and groove and bang your head to any kind of music, often twirling carefree in random circles. You crack up when I point to a picture of a kitty and growl “Meeeoooowwww”. You bring your lotion to me and help me rub it on your chubby thighs and belly. You give sweet, gentle kisses on command and enthusiastically say “Buh-Byyyeee, Buh-Byeee Dadda” on cue when you see Dadda putting on his shoes to leave for work. And while you still don’t sleep through the night, I’m still OK with it. Some nights, when your teeth are buggin’ you, you just want some bites of cool yogurt. You perch on my hip at 3am and I feed you in silence. You almost always glance up at me with a yogurt-covered smirk as if to say “I know I’m so silly, but…thank you Mama”.
You are silly. But it’s you I thank, my Kaia. Who else could I hang with at 3 am in my dirty kitchen, spooning yogurt?
May you always let your light shine. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.
I love you, my little sprite.