Monday, November 21, 2011

no longer a tiny angry visitor in my home

Dear baby boy,
I am so proud of you. You have come so far in six short months. I remember watching you hide in that doorway at Baby House #3, waiting for your baby friends to toddle down the hallway after lunch so you could jump out at them. I remember you laughing as you waited there. I remember thinking that day that you had a fun little personality. But then I didn't see that side of you for a very long time. But I knew it was in there and I knew we could get it back. And we did. I am so proud of you.

I remember the first time they let us feed you lunch. The other little ones had been shuttled off to the tiny little room where you ate all of your meals but you were kept behind, in my arms. I remember your screams and tears as you saw everyone else head to their lunch of thin mashed potatoes, crumbled hamburger, and a lone slice of bread, in chicken stock. You were beside yourself with anguish thinking that you were going to miss that meal. It was heartbreaking. When they finally brought your lunch to us we couldn't get it in you fast enough! And now you have gone through all the stages of eating, from demanding I drag every item out of the fridge for your review to insisting on carrying a bowl of cereal with you everywhere you went. Sometimes it would break my heart, watching your need for constant food close by. But you finally learned, my sweet boy. The food will always be there for you. Those days of constant hunger are over. Now sometimes I have to physically drag you away from your playthings and deliver you to the table to eat your meals. And I love it.

Those loud piercing screams of anger you developed in Russia and then perfected here at home are shattering our peacefulness less and less. They have been replaced with more singing, more "la la's" and lots of baby babble. It has been  weeks since I've had to carry you on my hip, screaming and swinging at me, to the freezer to get ice for whatever injury you just caused me. And it has been even longer since you have bopped your older brother over the head with a heavy toy. Month after month, day after day of you throwing every toy and book and destroying the living room or your bedroom because you were angry seem to be over too. Now you are learning to calm yourself down before you go over the edge, and I am right there with you, holding your hand.

I remember those days in Russia when it was just you and me. I couldn't even take a shower without you holding my finger through the shower curtain. Now you wander around upstairs, playing in your brother's room or reading books in my bed while I am getting dressed in the morning. I couldn't walk to the other side of the room without a constant stream of  conversation to assure you I was not leaving the room without you. Now I can sneak away for a few minutes at a time while you play.  I remember you crying each time we got in the van to go to the baby store or to buy food. Maybe thinking we were taking you back to the Baby House, I don't know. Now you clap and cheer when I tell you to get your coat so we can get in the car.

You have come so far. We have come so far. And oh my god, it was hard. Nothing about you has been easy, little one, but we made it. I welcome the normal toddler craziness I see now. Don't want to pick up your blocks? At least now you just say "no" and walk away, instead of throwing them at me. Don't want to have your diaper changed? Now you may roll around on your changing table but at least you're not swinging at me with both your arms and legs. Mad that you can't have that snack you just stole from the pantry because we will be eating shortly? Fine. At least you didn't sweep every magnet and crayon picture off the refrigerator while you screamed.

But I think the worst is over, little man. It was somewhat like living with a monkey in the house. Never knowing what was coming, sweet boy or prize fighter. And some might say that it couldn't have been as bad as having a primate around, what with the way they smear their poop and throw food everywhere. But you, me, and my Clorox Wipes know better. My little monkey. My little boy.

You are learning to share. You are picking up the language so quickly. You let me hold you close now when you are angry, instead of pushing me away. You tell me you love me in your very own version of American Sign Language. You show love to your baby animals, your stuffed frog and puppies, and you take care of them, pretending to feed them and put them to bed. You play tricks on Mommy and Daddy and you light up whenever your older brother enters the room. Sometimes you giggle so hard that you instinctively cover your mouth with your hands, and it is so damn cute.

I don't have to drag myself out of bed to start my day now. I have loved you from the first minute I saw you, standing there in the hallway of Baby House #3.  I have loved you through every scream, every punch. Through every piece of food purposely thrown on the floor and every diaper purposely painted onto the wall next to your crib. I have loved you through no eye contact and even worse, through that look of anger in your eyes, directed right at me. I have always loved you. And we made it through. You are no longer like a tiny angry visitor in my home. You are at home, finally.

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