Little one.

It’s been a year, almost, since I posted.  Which means that Powerball is somehow, suddenly, one.

It feels as if the actual year has disappeared as quickly as the space between blog posts.  As if there was only a breath between delivering him into the world and celebrating his first birthday.  The cognitive dissonance was real as I stood in the park, watching him try cake for the first time while balloons waved cheerfully in the background.  It was clearly a party, a party for my one year old, but how?

I worry that he’s done most of his growing while my back was turned—while I made breakfasts, rushed Bingo off to school (!), went to work, negotiated bedtimes, and tried to pick the most chokeable toys off the floor. As the second child, he’s lucky if he has even half of the amount of attention that Bingo did three years earlier.  But as exhausting as these days with two small, opinionated people are, I don’t want to lose them to the chaos of daily life.  I want to capture the sweetness of this moment, the amazingness of Powerball, the wonder of watching him grow.

Powerball at one:

Powerball is on the move.  He graduated from rolling everywhere to crawling at ten months, and can now cross a room to reach the most dangerous thing in about three seconds flat.  He can stand unassisted (one of his favourite tricks) and walks along furniture or holding onto a push toy.  He hasn’t tried hands-free walking yet, but it’s only a step away.

Powerball can talk.  He carries on full conversations of “la la la”, “ba ba ba”, and “da da da”, though he frustratingly and- I’m sure- intentionally held out on “ma ma ma” for as long as possible.  Clearly annoyed that we weren’t responding appropriately, he started adding in actual words at just over 10 months old.  His words include: up, hi, bye, all done, this, that, and (now, finally) mama.

High pitched shrieking is a language unto itself, and my sweet, gentle baby has quickly mastered the art of the temper tantrum.  This may be a second child survival strategy.

Powerball is half Bingo’s size, but can already hold his own in a fight.  As he grows, he’s becoming more and more the little sibling—he and Bingo fight over the real estate over my lap, favourite toys, and the overwhelming desire to have whatever the other kid has.  There are also many moments of sweetness and adoring stares in both directions.  Seeing them together makes me glad, a hundred times over, that we decided to have a second kid.

Our attempts at baby sign were lackluster at best, and he’s only really picked up signs for “all done”, “more”, and “food”.  He has, however, turned pointing into an entire language, patiently instructing his large servers (parents and babysitter, mainly) about what he would like placed where by pointing in rapid succession.

Mostly what he wants is food, in his mouth.  He was tiny for the first six months of his life, consistently in the third percentile for weight.  Every time I left the house with him, people would comment on his size and ask if he was a preemie.  This changed the second that we introduced solid food.  He’s now—dare I say it—chubby.  He’ll eat anything: fruit, vegetables, spicy food, random things he finds on the floor.  The one exception to this is sweet potato, which he considers an insult to the good name of food.

As well as food, his baby joys include opening and closing drawers, putting things into other things, making noise, being sung to, being held, reading books, pretending things are hats, playing peek-a-boo, Bingo’s toys, and dangerous wonders like my keys.  Honestly, he likes most things.  His nickname is “sweetness”, for a reason.

His baby sorrows include diaper changes (which involve significant acrobatics on both our parts), being separated from me, sleeping, having things taken from his possession, and- very specifically- his right sock.

There have been joys and sorrows for me too, in this year of parenting Powerball.  It’s been a hectic and exhausting year.  I’ve been frustrated, emotional, and overwhelmed.  I frequently feel like I don’t have enough time, enough energy, or enough hands.  But more than that, so much more than that, it’s been a year of joy, wonder, and gratitude. I am so happy to get to parent Powerball, to see him grow and change- to have our family grow and change with him.  He is the perfect addition to our family and, even in the chaos, I am glad every day that he is here.

I’m excited about what comes next.  I want him to take his first steps, say more things, and become more and more Bingo’s peer.  But I also want to pause this moment.  To take a moment to hold my baby while he’s still a baby, and appreciate exactly who he is right now: my little one.

  

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Daddy.

Bingo knows what “daddy” means.

She gleefully points to her friends’ fathers and shouts to them, “Daddy!”

Any guy carrying a kid on his shoulders: “Daddy!”

The stock photography guy on the air conditioner box (lying relaxed and, presumably, cool with his stock photography wife and kid): “Daddy!”

She’s even taken two of her friend’s fathers on as her own.  When either of them is around, it isn’t Henry’s daddy or Olivia’s daddy* that we’re talking about: it’s just daddy.  “Daddy push swing!  Silly daddy!”  Inevitably, this has led to uncomfortable public announcements such as, “Daddy at Olivia’s house.  Daddy go home.  Bye bye daddy!”

I have to admit: the unrestrained** enthusiasm for daddies made me a little nervous when it first came up.  “Oh no!”, I thought to myself.  “Bingo knows that she doesn’t have a daddy, and wants one!  What if she resents us?  What if she goes on a desperate and misguided search for father figures later in life?  What if the anti-gay conservative populace hears about this?!”

Then I paused (for the split second that parenting allows any pause to last) and remembered to breathe.

Do you know what else Bingo really wants?  She wants a dog.  She loves Henry’s dogs as much as she loves Henry’s daddy.  The highlight of her short life so far has been getting to hold one of those dog’s leashes on a short walk down the street.  She waves to every dog on the street.  She tells anybody who will listen that Grandma is bringing her a dog for her birthday.

But Grandma is not getting Bingo a dog, unless Grandma wants to be disowned.  Our house is a dog-free house, and will likely remain that way.  Bingo will grow up with a bunch of cats and whatever creatures might live in our walls, but no other furry friends.  And Bingo will be okay.

So, if anybody tells me that Bingo needs a daddy (Bingo included), I’ll explain that all all families are different.  That different people and things fit into our hearts and homes: moms, dads, cats, dogs, budgies, aunts, uncles, grandparents, siblings, friends, entire villages.  I’ll explain that not having any of those things doesn’t mean that you’re missing them.  And I’ll explain that at the end of the day the only daddy in our house is still going to be the guy on the air conditioning box.

*Not her friends actual names, but the names of pretty much every two year old we meet.

**Really though, what is restrained when it comes to toddler?