She’s nearing sixteen months old. How does it go by so quickly, and when will I tire of thinking that? Not yet. Not nearly yet.
Even at this age, hair seems to be a big deal. Because she hasn’t had much, we’ve often heard that she’s a “cute little fella” or been asked how old he is. We don’t mind, and I don’t think she does, either. Hair and gender aren’t related, and we’re pretty sure she’ll have more, at least one of these years. Maybe it’s happening now; when friends who’ve been away for a few weeks see her, they say things like, “Her face seems longer,” or “She’s looking more like you,” or “She has more hair!” I suppose that’s true: it comes from the back, like a rooster’s comb, lofting above her head. While she does not have a full head of thick hair, what she has gives her some extra height. It reminds me of Conan O’Brien, but instead of the front taking on a life of its own, hers comes from the swirly cowlick in the back, like a wave. One day it may crash down over her forehead, but for now, it hovers like a springboard, sproinging in response to the breeze or her head nodding or shaking.
While she could nod her head “yes” before she could shake her head or say “no,” “no” has, as with so many others, become a favorite word. Many times she’s touched an outlet cover, shaking her head and saying, “No no.” Sometimes we’ll find her saying “no” authoritatively to herself, drawing the one syllable out into something that could be preached from a pulpit, mouth round, the “o” long.
But thankfully, it’s not the only word we’ve heard. She identifies and sometimes can name body parts, including ears, eyes, nose (“no-no”), mouth, belly button, elbow, knee, and toe. She’s started saying “go” after hearing it over and over in Go, Dog. Go!: P.D. Eastman’s Book of Things That Go. Much like “no,” it’s not a syllable so much as a chant, a cry lifted above the crowd at a soccer game as the ball enters the net just above the goalie’s fingers in the time added at the end of regulation play. “Gooooooooooooooooooooooo”(al). She’s said “hard” after talking about the floor and the deep freezer, which her head has experienced first-hand, and “tight” after I squeezed her. We get “Mama” and “Dada” a lot, my favorite instances being upon her awakening. Reaching out and caressing our faces, she turns to me and says, “Mama!” and to him and says, “Dada!” in a tone so joyful you’d think she’d just gotten her birthday presents – and that they were exactly what she’d hoped for. I hope we continue to be a gift to her.
She can identify many things in books, even things we haven’t pointed out but have said, like “tuba” and “bus driver” and “mouse.” She’s a wonder, this one.
Lately, she’s made some good faces. She can do a fishy face, although it’s not always on command. Her newest is akin to a toothless old man: she wraps her lips around her teeth and then opens her mouth in an approximation of surprise. The effect is not attractive but comical, and we laugh every time, which only encourages her to make it more.
Today, she added to her skills again: she blinked. And she blinked again on command, a leisurely blink that conveyed her intention.
And that’s how I feel about her childhood. Recently, we had dinner with a father of two teenage girls, and we asked him if he was surprised that they were so old. “No,” he said. Startled, I didn’t know where to take the conversation from there. No? How could you be anything but surprised? What I do know is that these first almost sixteen months have gone by in the blink of an eye. Who knows what I’ll miss if I close my eyes for longer than that? I’ll leave the blinking to my little one. If you’re looking for me, you’ll find that I’m the one with her eyes propped open. I don’t want to miss a thing.