Ten Months

It’s interesting, you can tell how old Barnaby is by what month it is. It won’t always be this way, in fact he’ll end up with the same problem my mom has where you have to figure out how old she is by counting from the year *after* she was born, but for now it’s convenient.

How much better is everything? It’s indescribable. I feel like I should have some capacity for describing the joy in having a ten month old, I certainly went out of my way to lavishly paint the nightmare of an 8-9 month old, but in the fashion of my family, I’m only really good at describing the horrible things. I don’t know what kind of damage we sustained as infants, it had to be at the knee of my overly dramatic mother, but misery and pain seem to be the things I have the most words for.

Let me try. I really should try, because my days right now feel like a real gift and if I don’t find a way to make that clear, it’s unfair to anyone reading this who’s thinking about kids, and it’s unfair to Barnaby if these words somehow still exist in 25 years when he might be thinking about it himself.

The first big step that meant so much was when we were able to set Barnaby down and he could sit without falling over and hurting himself. People talk about the milestones, the crawling and eating solids and smiling and all of that, and yeah – all of that is cool. But setting the baby down and not having a hand on him and knowing he’s safe for more than six seconds, that feels miraculous.

The next big step is like the first. It’s the independence he’s found in his daily rituals. He’s crawling now and damn near walking and babbling and eating like a champ and all of that, and we’re so happy for all of the developmental stuff he’s doing that’s on time, and excited about the stuff that’s a little advanced.

But now, he has a small number of toys that he’s become really attached to, and he will play with them for a short time without wondering or worrying about who else is there. He has taken to crawling away from a group of people and sitting with his back to them and chewing on a toy or playing with something while looking away entirely.

The liberation is astonishing. I can run into the kitchen and pour a cup of coffee, or I can go to the bathroom for three minutes, and he doesn’t really care that I’m not there. He know I’m gonna come back.

This isn’t as joyful as it is refreshing. The joy comes from how completely he interacts with us when he choses to. In the middle of playing, he’ll crawl over to me and climb up on my lap and run his fingers through my beard. Then, he’ll climb down and go back to what he was doing. To say he’s attached to us isn’t exactly right… I know the word doesn’t imply any kind of physical leeching, but there is a sort of sense of that. It’s more like he adores us, simply and completely.

And we adore him so totally. He’s had a tough week this week, really, which means simply that he’s spent more time being a little distant and he’s had a harder time staying down for naps. But considering he’s got a cold, he’s got a tooth or teeth coming in, and his naps have been totally screwed, it’s incredible that he hasn’t been losing his temper at all.

He’s one of those kids that makes everyone smile. I’ve become so accustomed to people lighting up when I walk by with him in his stroller that I get confused when someone doesn’t. I do live in New York, the city where nothing exists unless it has been thoroughly commented upon, so it shouldn’t seem strange that I get told ten times a day that he’s beautiful. Of course, they don’t seem him at his best.

This is what he looks like with egg yolk and spinach on his face. Although clearly not also under his arms…

He is a light in our lives right now. Not just because of who he is, that is a revelation and a joy, but because of what he shows us about ourselves and each other. He makes us love each other more, because we know where he gets it from, so to speak. When he falls and bashes his head and sorta shakes it off without crying, we know he gets that from me. (Despite my constant kvetching on this blog, I have a really high tolerance for pain, I just have no stomach for illness or emotional upheaval…) When he comes to one of us and crawls into my lap and pats me on the back, it makes me love Jordana even more. Because that’s her inside him.

He’s ten months old today and if I can paraphrase Dean Smith, the best thing about babies under ten months is that they become babies over ten months. He won’t ever be the baby he was, and if he’s any inkling now of the kind of boy and man he’s gonna become, we’re incredibly, incredibly lucky.