Friday, June 21, 2013

megan and keats - the twelfth month

i met megan through some mutual friends in los angeles after her second girl navia was born. she is graceful and carries herself with such ease that i always find myself drilling her with a thousand questions on parenting when i see her. thank you for your words megan!
Keats is my third child and my first boy.  I have two other daughters: Satine, 6, and Navia, 2.)

Twelve months, the one-year mark, the birthday month! I love this age for so many reasons…it’s such a benchmark not only for the baby, but also for mama and the whole family! You’ve had 12 months to adjust to this new person, getting to know each other, and to find your groove/rhythm/dynamic as a family unit. The more children you have, the more of a balancing act this may have been, as there are simply more personalities/needs/schedules/etc to juggle. For me, having three children—and two so close in age-- I definitely felt like I was in the trenches for a while. Glorious trenches, but trenches nonetheless. So hitting the 1-year mark feels like a coming-up-for-air moment. We can breathe a little easier. There’s a flow happening. It’s a rung-up on the parenthood totem pole and I think it’s important to acknowledge that and give yourself a little pat on the back.

Another reason I love this age is getting to discover your baby’s voice.  Keats has just started talking. He’s got three words: Mama, uh-oh, and thank you.  When I hear those little sounds emanating from him, it just melts my heart.  Hearing your baby’s voice, and especially words, is a doorway into his being… the sound of his voice is yet another revelation to me of who he is. I feel like every word he speaks is a treasured little gift.

We’ll go for a walk, and recognition and connection wash over his face. He’s putting things together now in sonic-speed, connections are happening and he is on a mission to communicate it! He’ll try to voice it, grunting, groaning, and pointing me into understanding.  I love watching him unfold into the world this way.

At 12 months, baby is MOVING!  Some are crawling, some weeble-wobbling, and some full-on walking.  Keats is in the weeble-wobble camp, that wonderful, hands-to-heaven, shaky little walk. He’s up to 8 steps in a row now, before he’ll falter to the ground.  But what I love about this kid is he doesn’t just fall –that split second before he’s about to fall he’ll kind of charge at your lap (or floor, wherever he happens to land) like he’s attacking it, and his whole face just screams with joy. Then we’ll all erupt into claps and cheers that he’s made it on his little journey from point A to point B.

I love these pleasures of family life.  It’s so simple really: he took some steps, we applauded. But there’s a real poetry in these small, beautiful moments (a poetry that sustains me when I’m sleep deprived or stressed). Moments like Keats wobbling toward a goal, Dad encouraging him on, his sisters his biggest cheerleaders, the jubilation on Keats’ face, and my heart, so very full … It’s kind of a metaphorical vision of the family unit, and what I hope our family can always be for each other-- a bonded team of happiness, love and support.

It’s interesting after having two girls, to now get to know BOY. Of course not all boys fit the stereotypical gender mold, but I definitely see a difference in the activity level & physical developments of my son vs. that of my two girls. Keats is so fast and climbs and crawls into places my girls were never interested in. Bookshelves, for instance. His favorite new hangout. I’ve had to use doors like traps and baby proof like I never did with my girls. On the flip side, Keats is a total snuggler, loves to be held, has just started doling out kisses. He’s had more separation anxiety than Satine or Navia did. He loves loves loves loves his sisters’ old stuffed animals. His face lights up when he sees Cow or Gorilla, and he’ll put them in tight for a hug. Seriously just about the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen, the way he loves those things. My girls love having a little brother; they just adore him, and Keats, them. You can see the adoration on his face. Seeing their love for each other is pure magic.

Keats’ all-time favorite thing to do is flush the toilet. His next favorite thing to do is to drop items into the toilet.  (In fact, dropping in general is pretty great game.) Nothing is off limits. Oranges. Balls. Toothbrushes. Bread. His own fingers (which he will then lick and dip back in again. Tasty.) On more than one occasion I have lifted the lid to be surprised by what I find there.  On my to-do list for weeks has been to baby-proof the toilet with this li’l gizmo…but did I mention I have three kids? So yeah. Must. Get. Now.  In the meantime, we try to keep all bathroom doors shut but inevitably, someone forgets and Keats is quickly reunited with his first and unsanitary love, the toilet.

If he can’t love on the toilet, he’ll make his way to the windows. We have those windows that swing open into the house and are really low to the ground, so Keats can push out the screen ‘til it gaps open to the outside world…to continue dropping things (sunglasses, toys, socks) into the flower beds. But he does it with such beautiful curiosity, that’ll I’ll play along with him, handing him things and naming each item as I go. This has become one of our favorite games – me giving him something, him saying “han-hu (“thank you”) and handing it back to me, over and again, until he drops it out the window and watches it land with fascination. I, in turn, am fascinated by his fascination. I know I could redirect his attention, but I try my best to allow my children’s natural curiosity whenever possible, even if it means a screen might get bent. I can fix that, and it’s not as precious to me as his own discovery. (The toilet on the other hand is a different story. Not really into him playing in there but he’s just too fast for me sometimes!)

Other games he loves: Throwing balls/playing catch. Oh, and playing “chase.” I barely have to crawl after him at all because I’ll say “I’mmmmmmm gooooinnnng to geeettttt yooouu!” and somehow dragging it out like that sends him into a joyous tizzy.  Then I’ll dive at him and kiss-tickle him all over. He goes crazy for this.

I’m a big believer in simplifying our lives wherever possible, and have found a lot of inspiration here and here.

A note about toys:  even though I try to be conscientious about it, inevitably there is just a deluge of stuff.  Especially with three kids.  So in addition to periodic culling, I try to “re-gift” to Keats from his sisters’ old toys as much as possible (most of the toys above were at first his sisters’).  Besides, every parent knows kids love the box more than the toy, pots and pans are the best toys in the house anyway, and playing outside is the best of all!

That being said, here are some of Keats’ favorite toys for bouncing (great for small hands), stackingsortingwalking and pushingthrowing and knocking down (I build, he knocks and throws). They’re soft so it’s OK when they go hurtling across the room. For his birthday I got Keats these stackable trucks and this dump truck which he loves. (His sister also loves it. Why’d I wait ‘til I had a boy to get these awesome trucks?!?)

As for books, why sit still to read them when you can turn them over in your hand, look at them lovingly with deep curiosity, then: THROW THEM! With abandon! So fun!  (Did I mention he’s into throwing things?) I did just buy him Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site (to go with his dump truck), but right now Kika seem to hold his attention the longest. We love the adorable illustrations.

For songs, I pretty much have Elizabeth Mitchell on repeat in our home and car. We have all of her music and Satine, Navia and Keats all love it—that says a lot to be able to satisfy all 3 age ranges.  We’ll all pile into the mom mobile, and as soon as I turn on the tunes, Keats’ little hands will start clapping, and all 3 kids and I are singing along. We play the same albums over and over because with my kids and music, familiarity definitely breeds enjoyment.  Plus, to the younger babes especially, it’s comforts and soothes them when they recognize the song.

For each of my babes, I wanted them to have songs that were “their” songs, in particular, the lullabies I sing to them every night. For Keats, that song is Blue Cloud. I just love it, and so does he. So sweet and pure.  “Little Buckaroo” is another one I love singing to him as I rock and nurse him to sleep. Bing Crosby’s version is pretty great, too, as well as Jimmy Wakely’s.  It conjures up nostalgic images of cowboys on the trail, and so it seems particularly suited for little boys, which I just love. I love ending our days with me singing him these same lullabies every night, so he’ll think of it as “his” song with me, always…same as I do with the one my mom sang to me.

1 comment:

  1. I just wanted to tell you how much I have been loving your "as they grow" series. I've been following your blog for a little while now, since the Sakura Bloom Styleathon, and enjoy your beautiful photos and lovely writing. This series in particular has touched me so deeply. In each post I see my own daughter (nearing ten months now!) and several of them have brought me to tears. I just wanted to say thank you...