Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Dear Tessa: Month 11

Dear Tessa,

Last week, you turned eleven months old. It hardly seems possible that this time last year saw me waddling around in the dead of winter, eagerly anticipating your arrival and hoping against hope I'd get some good sleep before you arrived. It's a good thing I got the sleep I did, for your idea of sleeping through the night is still vastly different from mine! And your father's, and even your sister's. But on any given day you're one of the happiest babies I've ever seen, so whatever you're doing seems to be working for you.

You've continued to delve into the wide and wonderful world of table food this month, adding new foods to your impressive repertoire. Your father brought out a banana to cut up for you a few weeks ago, and as he unpeeled it, you just dove at it. I guess you'd seen your sister do this often enough that you figured, what the heck, can't be that hard. So you now eat whole bananas. You've also figured out how to wield a spoon. Granted, your aim is off - waaaay off - when it comes to retrieving food and delivering it to your mouth, but you've gotten the gist of it.

We learned last month that you were ready to move up to the next room at day care. I cannot think of you as a toddler - in no small part because you aren't one quite yet - but it's undeniable that you were outgrowing the infant room. Only part of the transition readiness is determined by physical skills. You have those in droves - crawling all over the place, pulling up, and cruising. It's the social piece that put you over the top. You were mauling the other infants with your desire to love on them, and it was clear to all involved that you needed to be in a room where your advances would not be spurned. Or, at the very least, wouldn't knock over their targets. The transition was a breeze, and you are now lighting up another room with your beautiful, toothy grin.

On the social front, you're also learning how to elicit responses from people. You clap, you wave, you high-five. You play peek-a-boo - sort of. You respond to it from others, and you mimic the hiding-your-eyes-behind-your-hands motion to start up a game. Only your aim is off a bit here, as well, so it ends up looking like you're either saluting or smacking yourself in the side of the head. Ditto for blowing kisses. We know what you mean, so the game - and the cycle - starts again.

We celebrated your first Christmas this month! Anna knows the drill and went to town on Santa's bounty with no hesitation whatsoever. You loved tearing into the paper, and you caught on to the excitement pretty quickly. You were crazy about your "big" gift, which was a Radio Flyer walker wagon. To our astonishment, you immediately pulled up on the thing and took off behind it, pushing it along the length of the living room. You now routinely take wobbly but certainly not hesitating steps when we hold your hands in support, and I wouldn't be surprised if my next letter finds you walking all by yourself.

You've been holding and controlling your own bottles for a while now (and even starting in on sippy cups!) but I didn't realize how finely your awareness of this delivery system had developed. It was all brought home when your sister brought out the baby dolls one day and, as she does, started putting them down for naps. One stray doll and its bottle lay near you. After planting a smooth on the doll, you picked up the bottle and first brought it to your mouth. You immediately pulled it back, and I braced for a cry of indignation at the tiny, useless thing in your hand. But instead, you crawled to the baby doll and proceeded to feed it the bottle. Fortunately for posterity, your father and I pulled our jaws off the floor in time to get a few pictures.

Your first New Year's Eve/Day was eventful - we spent New Year's morning visiting the emergency room after you had a miserable night with a nasty ear infection. You were so distraught and so exhausted, and I was so worried about hauling you into the ER with the aftermath of New Year's Eve still hanging heavy over the place. Our actual experience couldn't have been better, though - wonderful nurses who cooed and fussed over you, and an ER doc who was prompt, friendly, and had a great manner with you. We were out of there in under an hour and a half, and you were on the mend.

You were wiped out after your long night and morning, and when we got home and I brought you upstairs for a cuddle and some nursing, you snuggled into my shoulder and burrowed your head into the curve of my neck. You pressed into me, and your soft hair - finally coming in - was about the closest thing to perfect, absolute, right that I can imagine. This has become your signature snuggle when you're tired, in need of comfort, or, as I like to think every time you do it, just want to be sure of me. Which, in case you ever wonder in the least, sweet little T-pot, you can most definitely be.