Dear Owen: a letter at eighteen months

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Dear Owen Bowen, somehow you are a year-and-a-half old, which is not actually possible. A few weeks ago, you were standing on top of an ottoman, a trick your dad taught you, in nothing but a diaper, and I saw this little boy with a skinny little belly and muscular arms and legs standing there. I probably will never get over the fact that you used to not be able to hold your own head up…and now, you “nun nun nun” run through our house and climb on all of the things.

You are talking now, and I love it. You still speak a dialect of Owenese that your dad and I understand more than others, but you are definitely communicating. And you talk all day, from the minute you wake up…even mmminng your way through your sippy cups of milk or juice, as you point to various objects around our house. So often you surprise us with new words that we had no idea you knew, like the other day when you pointed at the sun in a book, and then said “sun” as you pointed to the sun outside.  You pick words out from our fast adult conversations to repeat,  and you understand so, so much. You get your boots when asked. You put things in the trash. You find your bear and put him in the crib. You remind us, “Pray! Pray!” before meals and excitedly fold your hands together over and over. And you’re constantly parroting us now: sorry, elcome (you’re welcome), and my personal favorite, an impassioned “CATS!” from the carseat the other day after I’d started up the car and said, “Holy Cats! It’s freezing!”

Slowly but surely, you’re putting these words together, and our days are filled with “Thisssisssa ______” or “Whassss this?” or “Issa _____.” Recently you came up to me in the kitchen and said, “Melmo, viyeo, pees?” I was so happy at your communication that we stopped then and there and watched the requested Elmo video.

You know your colors. On November 23rd, you surprised us by saying “A, B, Cuh” on the appropriate pages of your dog alphabet book, and I’ll often catch you singing “ABeeShee, ABeeShee” throughout the day. And you are an expert at animal sounds. Most mornings, you greet the bakery cow across the street with a cheerful moo, and you are constantly, constantly clicking at squirrels, calling them like your Grandpa Joe taught you. It’s kind of amazing how much you love squirrels.

You are a music lover and not only do you dance along to any music, but your’e starting to do motions for so many songs, like the “big!” in My God is so Big, or twinkling your fingers for Twinkle, Twinkle. You insert loud “heys!” at all the right parts in Jingle Bells, and probably 14 times a day, you’ll sing your version of Elmo’s “I Got A New Way to Walk,” which sounds more like “Ia new fwalk.” You love your dad’s guitar and even said “bitar” today when we were listening to a guitar-based song on the computer.

Your obsessions with animals, trucks, and buses continues, but now it is joined by wanting to smell everything: the candles on the table, our coffee, your own stink. You sniff in and out with gusto. You love to help me cook, especially when you get to “dumpit” when we’re baking, and you especially love to help me do dishes, pointing out each and every bubble that accumulates in the bottom of the sink. You could play blocks for hours, and when we read, you bring me book after book, saying “one more book” at the end of each one, very offically, with one finger held up, as if that is your guarantee of another. For months, you were obsessed with “beeeeees!” – every insect elicited this response from you…until you added “isss na a bee” to the end of your exclamation because so often you were just looking at dirt. You would intently watch ladybugs on the kitchen floor, absolutely fascinated. Phones are your favorite. You have been picking up various items around our house – paperclips, scrap paper, blocks, a placemat – and would hold them up to your ear, saying “lo?!” for hello – for months! You love when the phone rings too.

Christmas lights are a new obsession. You “woah!” every time we turn them on, saying “Light? Touch? No, no touch.” You beeline for people’s outdoor Christmas lights displays on our walks, and you gingerly finger our ornaments like they’re treasures. You’ve especially taken to a Kurtz classic – the Bert ornament, because you, my boy, love Sesame Street. You know all of the characters names and ask to see your diaper every single diaper change to see if it’s Elmo,  “Nernie,” “Coco” (Cookie Monster), or “Bu Bird.”

You are just so much fun, Owen, and despite some high maintenance moments, you are really sweet. You carry around your stuffed animals (your favorites are Bear with the winter hat, Lambie, and your dad’s Lambikins), and for several weeks, you’d make us kiss them too when we were putting you to bed. We talk about your coming baby sister, and you ask to “see” her; when I lift up my shirt, you kiss my belly, or snuggle with it. And when I pull my shirt back down, and say, “The baby’s sleeping,” you gently say “shhh.” This little girl is going to love you, Owen. I know you will make her laugh, and I think you will be such a good helper when she comes along.

Your fall was a full one. You and I flew to Wisconsin on our own to meet your newest cousin, Baby Luke. Let’s just say you were not as impressed with Luke as you were Coda the dog, and you were more than a little concerned on a few occasions when I was holding Luke. Your dad and I flew with you to California a few weeks later to see your Uncle Neil and Aunt Brea. We spent a week in the San Francisco area, and while there were moments that were made more difficult with you around, you also added so much to our trip – watching you experience the ocean for the first time, or revel in the giant acquarium we went to; I’m so grateful for our time together as a family. Your Grandma Pam and Aunt Vic came to visit (bringing Baby Luke!), and you had your first overnight at Grandma & Grandpa Bergets house over Thanksgiving weekend. You did such a great job and barely even cried from what we heard. Other fall highlights included jumping into piles of leaves (especially the ones your dad raked towards the bottom of your slide), and getting into the bathtub fully clothed.

Owen, I love you so much. I am so glad that I get to be home with you everyday, watching you grown. You are so smart, so joyful, so full of life. I am overly grateful that you’re mine.

Love,
Mama

Things you love: Sesame Street, Elmo, animals (especially dogs and cows and squirrels), music, singing, dancing, books, walks, Car Piggy, “Bear” – your bear with the winter hat, your dad’s Lambikins, baths, bubbles!, cooking, doing the dishes, smelling things, playing with (unlit) candles, playing lego blocks, seeing Archie & Estella, when your dad comes home, Christmas lights and decorations, your Grandpas, bugs, playing on our bed, jumping (or trying to!), big trucks that drive by, falling snow, pretending to be on the phone, cookies, “treats,” fruit, most foods

Things you hate: getting boots on, walking in the snow (a love/hate – you hate falling down and trying to get back up with all your snow gear), not being able to be involved in something I’m doing, when I carry you through a parking lot rather than letting you walk, when I don’t sit down and play blocks with you after getting them out

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