Dear Natalie: 13 Months


Dear Natalie,

My sweet baby girl — may I still call you that? I ask because I’m not sure “baby” still applies to you.

While we were whizzing through your weekly photo project, you were most definitely a baby. Week 50, baby. Week 51, baby. Week 52, baby.

And then…thirteen months, WHAM, TODDLER.

Some things that contribute to your sudden grown-up-ness:

You run everywhere. EV-ER-Y-WHERE. Life for you happens at a 45 degree angle, because that’s how far you tilt to take a corner. You love a drive-by version of peek-a-boo where you throw a blanket over your head or hold it up in front of your face and then careen around the living room, giggling madly.

This game does not always end well. Go figure.

You have very definite opinions about a lot of different things, typically expressed by throwing things on the floor and screeching at me. As a baby, you’d hoover up almost anything we put in front of you. Now, though, it depends on what day it is. Scrambled eggs are the tastiest thing you’ve ever inhaled for three days in a row, and then on the fourth day — rubbish. Literal rubbish that should be tossed directly on the floor and swept away. And then you furiously sign “more more more more more more.”

Sorry, kid. Mama’s not a short order cook.

You understand what we say and you communicate with us. This completely blows my mind. Like, KAPOW, gone. We’ve only taught you a few signs (“more,” “all done,” and “milk,” with a continuing effort to get you to sign “water”), but you actually use them. Half the time I think you’re just showing us that you know what they mean. When you sign “milk,” for instance, I get your sippy cup and hand it to you, at which point you repeat the sign and then throw the cup on the floor. I was testing to see if YOU knew what it meant, Mom. Congratulations! You passed!

As far as the spoken word goes, you don’t have much in your repertoire at the moment. You have Mama and Dada down cold (although Dada is usually shortened to “DA,” as if that second syllable is just too much work), but no other real words. This is absolutely not a concern, because it’s clear you know what we’re saying to you; you just don’t care to repeat it back to us.

You know a few animal sounds…sort of. A cow says, “Booooooo.” (Cow with a cold? MY CHILD IS A COMEDIC GENIUS.A sheep says, “Babababababa.” A lion does indeed say, “Rawr,” but the roar has gradually transformed into the same sound you make when you’re, um, working on something in the diaper department. A constipated lion, perhaps.

If I ask you to please put away the can of cat food you so helpfully tossed out of the basket, you pick it up and march it straightaway to where it belongs. If I hand you a block and ask you to clean it up, you know that it goes in the bag with the other blocks and place it there with almost no hesitation. If I ask you to please give Mama back the phone you stole from her pocket, you cackle and run away.

Clearly there is no problem with listening comprehension.

You have a gloriously full head of hair and you let me put it in pigtails, much to my delight and the chagrin of your father. That, plus a 24-months/2T wardrobe, make you look so very, very old. You fly around the playground in your SIZE 5 sneakers (yep, size 5), pigtails waving in the breeze, wanting so desperately to climb up to the top of the slide by yourself like the big kids.

But at the end of the day, you’re still my girl and I’m still going to call you my baby.

Please don’t take that away from me just yet. I don’t care how big your feet are.

Love always,

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