Sometimes, to help me write these monthly posts, I make notes throughout the month. Babies change so much from day to day that it’s easy to forget things. So I make notes: Mary Virginia climbed up on the couch all by herself, Mary Virginia’s favorite food is black beans, Mary Virginia squeals when she doesn’t get her way.
Something must happen at 11 months, because this month I have a lot of notes. And I said the same thing when David turned 11 months old. Usually it’s milestones, schedule changes, and two or three personality developments. But now, almost every day feels like when you see that shy girl from English class out at a bar dancing on a table and you’re like where did that girl come from?
This month went by in a blur. Maybe it was a combination of Easter, the warm weather, another ear infection, and 15 days of antibiotics, or maybe it’s because every day, every hour, is a blur. In milestone news, Mary Virginia has six teeth, is getting sweet little curls at the nape of her neck, and is starting to slowly let go of objects and stand alone. She can also blow raspberries, clap and tell us how big she is. I’m predicting her first words will be, “David, stop touching your sister, get that off her head, if you don’t want her to take your trains then go somewhere else,” because that’s the soundtrack in our home right now, playing on repeat.
Mary Virginia continues to shock me by how physical she is. I had to watch David every second because he was so destructive; with Mary Virginia I can’t turn my back because I keep finding her on top of things. She can climb onto David’s bed, the couch, and into the toy bin. Consequently, she has fallen off of David’s bed and the couch and into the toy bin.
She is, I think, just starting to form words. She babbles all the time, but when she wants me she consistently says “NaNaNaNaNa”. It’s fun to see this develop, but it also, be honest with me, is there something wrong with the way I say “M”? If not, why do my children call me NaNaNa and Na-ee?
Even though she squeals with delight and crawls to Daddy when he gets home from work, I am still her favorite thing on the entire planet. If I’m within sight, she likes to be close, to be held. Her favorite thing is when I sit on the floor so she can crawl all over me like I’m her personal jungle gym. When she wants to nurse, she grabs me with both hands and bites any body part within reach — my arm, my thigh, my foot — as if I’m a maple tree she can tap.
A week ago at church she almost made it all the way through the service, but before the end someone came to get me because she was “crying on and off and it’s making all the other babies cry.” Great job, Mary Virginia, I guess we all know who isn’t going to win Miss Congeniality. When I went to get her, I picked her up and she sniffled, a large tear poised on her cheek, and she rubbed her eyes and looked around the room like, “Guys. I think we can all agree that we tried our hardest, but we just couldn’t make it to the finish line. So let’s just rally together and try to move on from this great tragedy.”
Mary Virginia is already more of a picky eater than her brother was at this age, which is terrible since David only eats food if I add a pseudonyms make it sound less nutritious. “David, do you want a bagel cookie? No? Maybe a peanut butter snack? How about a raisin treat? YUMMY!”
When David was her age, he begged to get in his high chair and would scream if I didn’t give him enough food to simultaneously fill both fists, his cheeks, and the entire high chair tray. Mary Virginia only eats a little at each meal, and what she doesn’t want she smashes on her leg.
Her favorite foods are pretzels (not allowed) paper (not allowed) and David’s shoes (not allowed). And Mary Virginia, that is why Daddy and I will choose all of your boyfriends for you. Because if you look around the living room and decide that David’s toddler shoe is the one thing you want to chew on, then you’re demonstrating serious lack of judgement.
Dear Mary Virginia,
Every night at dinner you do this funny thing where, unprompted, you put both hands up in the air. Our dinners are a bit chaotic; at any given moment I’m up getting something from the kitchen, Daddy is cleaning up a spill, and David is asking why the chicken on his plate doesn’t have legs. But then you put your arms up, and we all stop what we’re doing and we put our arms up, too.
You sit there, with both hands in the air, and look at us with a face that says, “What’s wrong with these ding dongs? Why are their hands in the air?”
Slowly your arms drop, one at a time, and ours do too. We go back to eating until you decide to lift your arms again.
“ARMS UP!” Daddy will declare, and we all play along.
It’s a little thing, a thing that might be gone next week or next month, but it’s just one example of how you’ve changed and shaped our lives. When I think back about this year, I don’t want to think about the hard stuff — ear infections and sleepless nights — because even though those things are loud, they’re also small. Instead, I want to remember the big things, the ways you’ve added to and enriched our family. Like getting us all to drop our forks and raise our arms at the dinner table.