one-and-a-half-year-old boy

Finn,

On April 9th, in an unexpected flurry and blur of movement and stops, noise and silence, darkness and light, your tiny twin cousins were born. On the very same day, you turned eighteen months old, and never seemed more like a boy.

I still call you my baby sometimes, but I think that even you know that’s a big, fat lie. The only things that you have in common with a baby are the middle of the night cries, which apparently may never end, and the diaper on your butt, which, judging from the fact that you actually used the toilet once this past month, may be behind us sooner than we thought. Everything else about you proudly asserts that you are now a little boy.

Throughout your eighteenth month, you had something to say about almost everything. One day you looked outside and saw a neighbor walking his dog. “Bob. Puppy,” you remarked, much to our surprise. Everything seemed to elicit some kind of commentary. But you gained more than words: your world grew new textures and shades of meaning as you noticed subtle things you hadn’t before. You explored the differences between yellow and orange, shocked me with words like “gold,” and understood that lavender and grape can both be “puwple.” You recognized shapes more often, too. Now, when you want a bite of my cereal, you ask for a “square,” and one of your favorite new words is “circle.” You love to shout “circle!” when you point out circles, draw circles, run in circles, spin in circles. Unlike your mommy, you love feeling dizzy:

Also unlike your mommy, you seem to like heights. On our “spring break” together in early April, we rode bikes to the park and you climbed your first tree — with a little help from Daddy.

Now when you come close to a tree you grab its trunk with your hands and say, “Tree. Up? Up? Help?” Up is a popular place. You discovered that you love going “up” into the sky in the swing, a mechanism for which you previously had much disdain:

You also realized that you prefer to climb “up” instead of go down the slide. It seems you like a challenge — or to pose a challenge — but the truth is that you’re not ALWAYS a rebel. In fact, you’ve gotten so much better at enjoying quiet time with us and by yourself, “cooking” at your little stove and shouting “pots! spoon! broccoli! cheese! banana! apple!” while we prepare dinner, experimenting with “voom,” “zoom,” “shhhh” as you move real or imaginary vehicles around on the floor, and playing with your many puzzles:

But some of my favorite moments with you are spent reading your favorite books. You demand them by name now, saying “Listen” when you want to read LISTEN, LISTEN, “walk!” when you want to read I TOOK THE MOON FOR A WALK and “Moon” when you want to take a trip down memory lane with GOODNIGHT MOON. It’s amazing to me how much our “reading” conversations have changed. Here we are reading PICTURE THIS a few weeks ago:

You are becoming your own person, with your own distinctive loves and hates. You love the moon, tall trees, books, trucks (“gucks”), bubbles. You love to talk, to lead us around by the hand, to touch and identify things in the refrigerator, to dance to any music (as always), and, as a somewhat new development, to organize things neatly:

On the other hand, you hate to wake up alone and to be taken out of the bath. You hate loud noises, transitions, and dirty hands. In fact, throughout the past few weeks you’ve been obsessed with repeating “dirt” and “ucky.” I’m hoping this dislike is just a phase and not a future neurosis. If you get food on your hands during dinner, you say “dirt” and hold your hands out for me to wipe with a napkin. Then while at the beach a couple of weeks ago when we took off your shoes and put you barefooted on the warm sand, you cried and asked me to pick you up, saying “dirt? dirt? dirt?” over and over again. “It’s okay, Finn,” I said smiling. “It’s SAND. And that’s the OCEAN.” It took some time, but eventually, you got it. Now, one of your favorite words is “ocean,” which you are learning to differentiate from “pool,” “lake,” and “pond.”

You’re very interested right now in exploring the relationships between different things within a specific category. When you take a bite at the dinner table, you frequently say “hot!” with excitement, and then immediately revise your assessment with a milder-toned “warm.” Sometimes we’ll take out a blue ice from the freezer to get you to practice “cold,” which you always say slowly and seriously. And although you’ve known the difference between “up” and “down” for quite some time, you’re now busy with  “off” and “on,” “in” and “out,” “fast” and “slow,” and, of course, “yes” and “no.” Thankfully, you’ve been in a “yes” mood lately, but you had a period last month during which “no” was all you knew:

You certainly understand oppositions. Yesterday, completely uninitiated, you pointed to a chicken in a book we were reading, opened your arms wide, and said “bIIIIIg.” Yes, it was a rather large chicken.

But it’s you, my lovely boy, who are getting so bIIIIIg. And I just adore the boy you’re becoming.

Sunshine

My sister Sunshine is an amazing aunt. Now, two months early, she is already an amazing mother.

After suffering four days of contractions, shots, tubes, intrusive machines, thirst, and a total lack of sleep in an attempt to keep her twin babies safer longer, she was rushed out of ICU and into surgery at 29 and a half weeks pregnant. Her daughters were perfect, with lovely hands like pianists, but at just over two pounds each, one of them was too small to be cared for at the same hospital. They held Baby A, Sarah McKinley, in front of her for three seconds before whisking her away to the other side of the city. Baby B, Margot Alice, stayed in NICU on the same floor — yet Sunshine was not able to meet her for another day and a half when she was finally transferred out of ICU and could get into a wheelchair.

She is so strong, so brave, so much a mother… even with her babies at a distance.

They are so lucky to have such a mother.

We are all so lucky to have her.

Thank you, Sunshine, for bringing us such feisty, beautiful little girls, nieces, cousins. We love them already so much.