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Hi there my sweet little Lulubeans! Yes, I know this is unconscionably late – I’m apologizing to your future self, because right now you scarcely care what month it is, but some weeks ago you turned two and a half, and I promised not to go a day longer without my quarterly treatise. You will get to know these peccadilloes, and perhaps be amazed I did this every three months at all – or maybe I’ll have some huge attention deficit revolution and be Johnny On-The-Spot by then. Anything can happen, my sweet. One mustn’t define oneself, or else one becomes calcified and inflexible.
Let me be succinct: you are loud. You have always been loud, but I thought it might wane with the onset of toddlerhood and the fade of that newborn’s guitar-distortion cry. It seems our neighbors aren’t so lucky, because when you have an extreme emotion (either joy or Russian-novel-anguish) you are capable of lungpower that would have been the envy of ship captains during the Napoleonic Wars.
It’s a fitting metaphor, because you experience things very deeply. Sometimes I watch your expression after I make you a spirulina-powder smoothie with raspberries, and it is the sated ecstasy of the satyrs. A few weeks ago, you had some soap in your eye and your mom soothed it with cold, wet fingers against your closed eyelids… and now I occasionally catch you doing the same, just for the languid sensation.
The other thing you feel deeply? Your relationships. Man, if you could get the sophomore vote, you would totally be the social chairman of your sorority. Every evening you say goodnight to everyone you know, and sometimes we’re in there for 45 minutes. The absolute apple of your eyelids? Your cousin Barnaby, of course:
When we were up at the farm earlier, you coaxed him to say his first word again – “dog” – then let go of his hand when he wanted to take his first steps. One thing I managed to get on camera was your first conversation together, and I think it’s fair to say that Barno’s monosyllables certainly qualified:
Every morning, you come into my room to wake me up. Mommy has long since already begun her day, but you know I’m still ripe for the bothering. Sometimes you come in with a Found Object and bang it on my head, saying “WHAT’S THIS, DADDO???” Other tidbits from our mornings:
Me: “Um, so, hey Lucy, it’s early – can you come back in a half-hour?”
Lucy: “Daddo, I want to stay here with you, so don’t fight with me.”
Me: “Why are you stepping on my head?”
Lucy: “Because I want your opinion.”
Lucy: “Daddo, what are you doing?”
Me: “I’m sleeping.”
Lucy: “Daddo, what’s happening?”
Me: “Whaddya mean? I’m sleeping!”
Lucy: “DADDO! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?”
Me: “I’m sleeping.”
Lucy: “Okay, I’ll be your blanket.”
dramatic straining noises as she hoists herself onto my bed and flops on my skull
Me: “Wow. My blanket sure smells like fish.”
Lucy: “I had salmon!”
You get the idea. There was a time when I felt so horrible about mornings that I purposely slept through all of them. Something about the dull ache of the early day made me actually sick to my stomach. Now, every morning, I can’t wait to see you. I look forward to mornings like I used to look forward to Nestle Crunch Bars from the ice cream truck. To say you part the clouds and strengthen the sun is an understatement: you are both the sun and clouds, thunderstorms and endlessly warm afternoons, thick snow and cut grass. How did we do it before you? I can’t remember.
Every night either your mom or I tell you a “Barnaby & Lucy” story, featuring some adventure you have taken in an alternate world (the one where Barnaby is already talking, and you can both drive, even though you’re both under 3 years old). Thinking up new stories has been a fascinating thought experiment, because repeats don’t play well in your demographic.
While we were in Texas last month, I was taking a nap, and you came in to “put me to sleep” the way I’ve done for you. I turned on the camera and asked for a Barnaby & Lucy story, and as far as I know, this is your first stab at fiction. Enjoy!