Hi there little Lucybug!
This is one of your first self-portraits, taken last week as you turned nine months old, precisely the amount of time you spent in the womb. It’s hard to remember which has felt longer, but having you on this side of the muscle mass is definitely more fun.
I know other bloggers write to their kids every month, but that seemed a little too much for an on-the-go tyke like yourself, so I’m sticking to the “every season” motif. I did so in the summer, in the fall, and now here’s a little message from the winter.
at one month, 3 months, 6 months, 9 months
We have been remiss in noting every little developmental leap you take, which is kinda sucky, in that we sometimes look back as adults and would like to know the first day we actually knew what words meant; the first day we called our parents what they were; the first moment that would decide who we’d be attracted to for the rest of our lives.
I look into your eyes a lot and wonder if you’re experiencing something unbelievably profound, but those are the mysteries left in the embers of the fire long after the camp has moved on. Mostly I look into your eyes because they mesmerize, like Kate Bush sings, “the sort of blue between clouds when the sun comes out, the sort of blue in those eyes you get hung up about.”
I’ll tell you this, however: you’re all about standing. You never met a floor you didn’t like to stand on. Or a lap, or a side of a chair, or anything else that promises a swift blow or two to the head when you fall (which is not often but often violent). I watched you as you made your first crawl the week before Christmas, and the next day, you pulled yourself up to a stand without any coaxing from your peers.
These days, if it doesn’t involve standing and shouting incomprehensible syllables involving the “click” sound of the African bushpeople, you are Not Interested. You went from the slowest, crappiest crawler on earth to setting land speed records over the course of a week. Just watching you figure your own body out is better than anything on TV or the movies, which is cool because we hardly ever get to see either.
The “stranger anxiety” thing set in around eight months, but if the stranger has, say, a whisk, or an wireless car key, or better yet, a Treo with the Big Money game on it, you could give half a shit where Mom and Dad are. You are pretty fearless with everybody, no fading flower, no shrinking violet. You’ve got a smile for pretty much everybody, although it is looking way more like flirting, if’n you ask me.
The biggest change at nine months? You actually look like somebody. The Yorkshire pudding of your early months is actually setting into this pretty little lady; you have gone from five expressions to 437; your babbling has become consistent with your activity. For instance: “whuh?” equals “what is this new thing I’ve encountered?” Then “bah bah bah bah bah” means “this project is going swimmingly.” My favorite? The whispered “doh doh doh doh,” which means “This is more complicated than I first suspected.”
Bonus: “Wheecka doh doh BDRDRDRDRDRDR!!!” means “I’M NAKED!”
Tonight, as I was perusing old archives, I came across a huge folder full of diary entries that start in 1992 and go roughly to 2000 (after which, this blog basically took over). Those little files are full of stuff I would never put on this blog – profane-laced self-loathing, calling out people by name, clandestine fellatio – you know, the usual.
What struck me, even in the depths of unmitigated poverty and despair, was that I always had my eyes on you even when it seemed hopeless. I had suicide as a constant, silent companion riding in the back seat, barely in the rear-view mirror, and yet I never took him seriously.
I feel like I was counted out, left for scrap metal, many of my friends not believing that I’d ever scrape together much of a real life. But I never lost faith in you, always figured that I’d make it to your bedside in time.
My buddy Matt McMichaels had a poster in his bedroom during those dark days, an R. Crumb reprint of Mr. Natural on a tractor surrounded by fields, saying “TWAS EVER THUS!” That’s the trap we fall into, as we look at how blessed our lives are, gazing into the bright sun in our mid-to-late thirties – it’s hard for me to remember a time not so long ago when my personal life was one car wreck or cuckold away from disaster.
I like to think, Lucy the Light Bearer, that your blueberry eyes shone the way for me in the back romances of my darkest thoughts, and made me sure that all things were leading in the right direction, despite all evidence to the contrary. I don’t think I’ll ever thank you enough for that. Perhaps thirty-two hundred diaper changes will come close.