I have tried to write you a letter all day. I don't know why I am having such a hard time. Words usually come easy to me. I have written you letters before, both on blog and on paper, folding little origami notes in your baby book, sealing them with spit and tears and blessings.
I searched for photos of you as a newborn baby, realizing that the bulk of them are lost with my old laptop and I felt guilty and then a little sad for forgetting so much of the beginning, the way you felt in my arms and the little pimples on your face that I don't remember even noticing at the time. You were so perfect, so lacking any sort of idiosyncrasy:
And you still are:
We went to the park today. You wanted to bring your blankie and it was your birthday so I said, okay. I usually psyche you out.
"Look over there!" I say, "a squirrel," and I grab your blankie and throw it in the house all stealth like, as you search wildly for the squirrel, shrieking.
But today you dragged your blankie behind you, all seven blocks to the park, picking up rocks and dirt and sand and Jacaranda petals all the way.
We used the blankie as our own personal fort, tucking it into the chain link fence as you kneeled down beside me and pulled my sunglasses off my eyes and put them on yourself. Real cool, man. When the fort got old (about five seconds later) you knocked it down and pulled me toward the swing set where you insisted on climbing up in my lap and humming twinkle twinkle little star as we rocked back and forth, barefoot. Twinkle Twinkle little star is your favorite song to sing but you prefer when I sing "the ants go marching one by one Hoorah!" and ever time I say "boom, boom, boom" at the end of the verse, you laugh:
"...and they all go marching down. To the ground. To get out. Of the rain. Boom! Boom! Boom!"
You still refuse to speak, but you have mastered the art of your own communication. Your little voice echoing through every room in the house, following the dogs, holding their tails in your dirty hands. And sometimes when you don't feel like singing you brush my hair, with a hairbrush or your hands or the TV remote.
Maybe I have been struggling with this letter because two seems so much older than one and this time last year you were still a baby and now I don't know what you are: a toddler? Or are you a little boy?
You're Archer, to me and I wonder if I will ever be able to see beyond the moment with you, or if the past will erase like disappearing ink. I wonder if this time next year I will have forgotten all this, you with your red blankie in your arms falling asleep on my chest in the swing, feeding me crackers and then laughing when I make the "yum!" face.
And maybe that's the point. Of being a parent and always, no matter what, being in love. The butterfly feeling that never goes away and how I become absent-minded when you play peek-a-boo with me or smell the flowers because it takes up all my brain power to figure out how you came to be in this world and how I ended up on the receiving end of your smiles. Your wide-eyed pensive glances. Your youness.
Today you are two years old. "This many," I say, holding up two fingers like a peace sign and you look back at me like I'm crazy, so I speak in gibberish and I tell you how much I love you in your personal langauge:
You seem to understand and you nod and laugh and pull the petals off your blankie, which I should be washing right now but screw it. I'll wash the thing tomorrow.
Meanwhile, you'll keep growing. Graduating from 2T to 3T to 4T to 5 as I fold and shelve our yesterdays to make room for our tomorrows.
You are my favorite thing (or in a language you might be more familiar with):
Gooyolackalackaheehee maliolalafoolapooha laheehee.
Happy Birthday, Archer Sagebrush; Pirate of the Snails.
(cross-posted with slightly different photos at Straight From the Bottle.)