At five months, Finn wears size 9 month pajamas. His thighs measure ten inches around at their chunkiest spot. Surprisingly, he is still flexible enough to put his feet in his mouth, but only one at a time. EVERYTHING, if possible, is mouth-bound: his toes, my knuckles, the head of his sock giraffe, the pages of his cardboard books; it is the way he prefers to take in and test out the world. He still drinks breast milk exclusively, but will soon begin solid foods, for he loves to sit with us at the table, staring mesmerized as we eat, smiling when we crunch through chips or cookies.
Finn is also captivated by the bath, the sight of running water, the ceiling fan in any room, lights that go off and on. He doesn’t like the dark, however. Occasionally he cries if he wakes up at night — not because he’s hungry, but because he wants comfort and reassurance. Once he gets it, his wail turns to a sleepy smile or happy screech at midnight.
During the day, Finn laughs predictably at Gram’s funny faces and Dad’s silly voices, but also surprises us by giggling at the sound of a leaf scratching against a blanket or an eraser rubbing against a sheet of paper. He startles and cries at the rip of velcro and the ugly noise his dad makes when he clears his throat, but is instantly soothed by the songs of Jack Johnson or my rendition of The Beatles’ “I Will.”
Finn appreciates everything from coffeehouse rock to reggae, classic R&B to classical Mozart. He turns his head toward the radio when NPR advertises Lakme with a clip of “The Flower Duet.” He doesn’t sing opera yet, but dances daily, often in front of a mirror. The “baby” in the glass is a source of glee — unless he is pouting, in which case Finn becomes increasingly upset at the increasingly sour expression he sees before him.
A walk outside is almost always another source of joy, but not in the stroller so much: he prefers to be worn in the Bjorn, facing out toward the world, although he’ll cock his head to the side every now and then, using his peripheral vision to make sure we’re still there. Head on, he studies ducks, egrets, herons, and coots, but is most interested in people as they jog, walk, bike-ride by. He always smiles at strangers. Although he sneezes in the bright sunlight, he loves being outdoors on windy days, when he breathes in and exhales excitedly with each gust and then plays with the wooden chimes on the patio before he tries to eat them.
Up close, Finn is communicative, affectionate, and curious. He speaks in sighs, raspberries, high-pitched squeals, choppy vowels and consonants that come together like some strange, secret language that I sometimes think I understand. What I understand most, however, is without sound: he fixes his eyes on me without blinking and reaches his small hand up to touch my face.