This Is Childhood: One

I will do my best to revel in these final weeks in the Land of One. And in these final weeks, if anyone asks how old you are, I will say something a bit different than what I said to your big sister's teacher.
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This post is the first in the series "This Is Childhood," which captures moments in our children's lives, from age 1 to 10.

Little Girl,

Last week, we visited your big sister's kindergarten class during lunchtime to celebrate her 6th birthday. Our visit conflicted with your nap-time and it was my instinct to leave you home, but she insisted that both of her sisters come and we were quick, and perhaps foolish, in our surrender. Toting a bag of purple cupcakes, we arrived and waited a few minutes for your sister and her class to return from the gym. The teacher asked how old you are now. And I answered.

Almost 2, I said. March.

Soon, your sister and her class arrived and we sucked her into a giddy, family hug and, as if on cue, the chaos ensued, in predictably exhausting fashion. Swimming in sea of big kids, your eyes lit up and you did your giggly whirling dervish thing, racing around, rolling on the rainbow carpet, winning admirers, breaking all of the kindergarten rules. You pulled pillows from the book nook, demanded seconds of cranberry juice, touched everyone's forks, took a big, messy bite of cupcake before your big sister had a chance to. Throughout, the teacher kept reminding your sister's classmates that we expect different things from 2-year-olds than 5- and 6-year-olds.

And I felt something rising in me, a swell of panic maybe. What I wanted to say, what I didn't say because I was too busy wrangling all 27-ish? pounds of you: She is still 1! She is still 1! Suddenly and surprisingly, I felt fiercely possessive of this final month-plus of your Oneness. She is still 1!

And you are. One.

aidan donnelley rowley

I imagine a scenario. You are newly 18 and we sit at our kitchen island, that vast white page of glass, once smooth and pristine but now pockmarked from real life and real use, and it is the eve of your high school graduation. Your big sisters are out and about in this fine city we call home; moments ago, they left in a tempest of hugs and promises to be home by a certain time. It's just you and me and we are talking. And I am looking at you, stunned by the impossibility of time, by your blue eyes and grace, by nostalgia. And it's as if you know that I am a bit melancholic about the milestone we face and you ask me something, Hey, Mom, what was I like when I was 1?

And I look at you, thankful for your question, the chance to remember. And, in an utterly rambling fashion you have grown to accept and maybe even love, I will say things:

You started taking steps, then walking. Soon, you were running and jumping and diving from the counter to the couch. Fearless! You continued honing new and exciting skills: clapping, waving, laughing, taking off your own clothes. Slowly but surely, you began saying words, then sentences. You loved Yo Gabba Gabba and insisted on watching it on Daddy's "iPah." You were suddenly, crisply aware of your sisters and the world around you. You developed a sense of humor (see above) and a sense of rhythm, too, participating in naked dance parties with your sisters in the evenings that struck you as hilarious. You started talking about the potty, but remained loyal to your Elmo diapers and to your pacifier too and we didn't rush you. You put on little shows for us, contorting your sweet face into goofy and incomparable grins, twirling your small body around and around.

I go on and on and you listen. I can see it in your eyes that you are perplexed and intrigued and just a little bit bored. But you listen as I go back.

My Girl: on March 6th, the unthinkable will happen. You will turn 2. And we will probably celebrate with another silly party I vowed not to plan and not to pay for and there will be the standard-issue ribbon-cake-plastic toy hoopla. But first. But first I will do my best to revel in these final weeks in the Land of One. And in these final weeks, if anyone asks how old you are, I will say something a bit different than what I said to your big sister's teacher.

She is 1, I will say. For a bit longer, at least.

It is my plan to enjoy and process this final bit of time here. Writing these words, these imperfect but felt words, has proven a very good start.

I love you to tiny pieces, my silly little thing.




Confession: When asked to try to capture Age One in a single blog post for the wonderful "This Is Childhood" blog series of which this is the first installment, my excitement quickly morphed to anxiety. And I did what many panicky creatures do in this glorious modern age: I Googled. I Googled "one-year-olds" and I read and I smiled because the things I read -- shiny, packaged bits about milestones and development - rang true for me. But then I chided myself for not trusting myself, and implicitly, to tell a true something about the Land of One, a familiar and ever-foreign land, a land I will finally leave, yes, in less than two months (cue the sobs). It goes without saying that the above letter does not capture in any exhaustive fashion what the time between 12-24 months looks like, but that's inevitable, no? It is what it is and no more: A little letter to my littlest girl. I hope she reads it some day.