Today you turned one year old.
We celebrated the day mostly without fanfare because, although it is a monumental achievement to chronicle the duration of your existence by full solar revolutions rather than measly twelfth parts of one, you’ve celebrated it twice already this month already and, really, three times would be pushing it. Honestly.
Your first birthday party happened a month ago, while you were still in Florida with Mommy. While there, your Nana and Papa took your to Disneyworld and Epcot Center, thereby contributing to the time-honored cliche of Asian tourists crowding American theme parks. To make up for it, they also threw you a big family pre-birthday bash, which included an entire cake just for you and, somewhat later, a horrible diaper just for them.
More recently, on Saturday the 17th, we celebrated your true one-year birthday with a party that included yet another entire cake for you and, somewhat later, yet a horrible diaper just for us. (You’d figure Mom would have connected those events by then.) For a present, we decided to get you Type 1 Diabetes. Enjoy!
Boy, have you changed in the month between parties. First and foremost, you have teeth! Your front right top and bottom teeth more or less sprouted simultaneously, giving you delightfully lopsided smile and the bite power of a Rottweiler. Your mom and I were beginning to accept that you would never have teeth, and would subsequently be forever doomed to a life of banana mush and gummy smiles. Instead, we can now all look forward to dentally-amputated fingers for us and years of painful orthodontic work for you when you become a teenager. (We call that karma, kiddo.)
Possibly as a consequence of feeling out your new teeth, you have developed the habit of sticking out your tongue all the time. Initially it would pop out of the corner of your mouth as you played in a comic caricature of concentration, although it’s recently deteriorated into a disturbingly lewd, full-on Gene-Simmons tribute. Given your current propensity to head-bang to music, it’ll b no time until you’re flashing cornas and explaining why Master of Puppets is the best album ever.
In addition to your new dentition, you’re also now a full fledged walker. Gone are the erratic and off-kilter klomp klomp klomps of last month, replaced instead by the never ending squeak squeak squeak of your kiddie shoes as you walk around the house. It’s a cute bow-legged gait, much like a cowboy getting back his land legs after a long day in the saddle. You’ll fit right in here, Ladybug.
Heck, you’ve gone beyond straightforward upright walking to experiment with other modes of bipedal conveyance, including the orangutan walk, which involves flailing your arms above your head as you walk to create a mobile personal bubble about you as you move, and the Groucho Marx walk, which involves sticking your rigid arms behind you as you walk hunched forward, which I can only assume lowers your center of gravity and makes you less like to have a rollover. My little Volvo: boxy, but good.
Now that your hands have been freed from the task of moving you around, you’ve discovered other uses. For one example: bling. Your mommy bought you a collection of different “party” leis and necklaces, tacky plastic things with palm trees and fishes and beads and faux gems, and I swear all you like to do is wrap each and every one of those things around your neck one at a time, until you end up looking like a little Technicolor Mister T, or (given your predilection for lewd tongue antics and delight at running around the house topless) an extra at a Girls Gone Wild Mardi Gras party. Of course, the necklaces have a pretty large circumference and you don’t, so over time they usually slip off one shoulder like a plastic bandolier, so that you resemble a diminutive Chewbacca, albeit a fabulously gay one.
For another (more substantial) example, you’ve discovered sign language. Whereas last month you were signing only “more” €“ and that just because we continuously prompted you €“ this month you’ve truly grasped the sign language concept. One day, we were playing out in the backyard when you heard a dog barking. You looked concerned, so I told you “It’s just a dog.” You paused for a moment, then stood straight up and started vigorously smacking your right arm against your leg. Though you looked like a one winged bird trying to get airborne, it was crystal clear that you were signing dog.
Suddenly the floodgates opened, and you began spewing forth signs. You can sign bananas and cookies and cheese and eat and milk and baby and hot and shoes and (of course) dog. And it’s clear you’re connecting the hand signs not just with the sounds of the words but their meaning: for example, you will sign bananas and then point to the top of the fridge where they lay hidden out of sight; when you hear a dog bark at the park (even if you can’t see it) you will sign dog. You’ve even begun to use the sign for sun to describe bright indoor lights, which I find amazing. Watching your raw cognitive power develop leaves me awe-struck, kiddo. I continue to wait for a proof of the Goldbach Conjecture as my birthday present.
This month also warmed up considerably, and so we’ve spent a lot more time at the park. While the infinitude of rocks still amuses you, you’ve moved on to bigger things. In particular, the slide. You can now climb the steps to the top, a feat that, given your little size, is akin to scaling the Matterhorn, but you do it with gusto. At first you would climb to the top and wait for me to join you, so that we could slide down together. But when you discovered that my presence was not a necessary pre-condition to sliding, you began experimenting with different ways of de-elevation. Your initial attack was a kamikaze head-first descent, but since then you’ve adopted a more conservative feet-first slide on your belly, a technique derived not because of a concern on your part about your safety, but rather an inability to figure out how to sit at the edge of the slide and “scoot” off it.
Your play indoors has also become more active. Our four-on-the-floor versions of “hide and seek” and “tag” have been replaced by running versions of them, as we chase each other endlessly around coffee tables and kitchen islands trying to grab each other. You’ve just begun to climb up everything — up stairs, up chairs, up tables, and so on — but apparently you prefer to get your practice by climbing up me. Sadly, I have gone from a daddy to fleshy set of monkey-bars.
You’re not terribly good at climbing down anything yet, and as a result, you’ve pioneered a little thing we call the “Suicidal Baby Game” in which, after you have climbed up onto our bed, you crawl at breakneck speed to one of the edges before thrusting yourself off at the floor below, with the object of the game being for whatever parent is closest to grab you by the feet before you snap your neck when you land. Prizes for winning include your continued breathing and a heart condition for daddy.
You’ve also pioneered a game that might be best described as an Un-Staring Contest: two contestants take turns rapidly and deliberately blinking at each other. I’m not sure the criteria by which a winner is selected, but if it’s for the most pained expressions made while trying to figure out how to blink repeatedly, you’d get it:
Happy birthday, little Ladybug. Take it easy and relax.
I love you, pumpkin.
— Ba ba
See more pictures from your thirteenth month of existence over at flickr.