Today you are a year and a half old. The typical mommy line that follows is, "where has the time gone?" I'll spare you from that (because I know exactly where it's gone), and just say how wonderful this time with you has been.
As our adventures in Japan wind down and I've divided your tiny baby clothes between the three moms-to-be in our circle of friends, it's easy for me to get caught up in reminiscence of your littler days . . . those days when I could sit you on a blanket and know you'd still be there when I returned from cooking, checking email or going to the bathroom. You were just a happy ball of pudge, spitting up your milk and babbling at your toys. Saying goodbye to carseats, high chairs and your first crib has been trying for me. Ok, maybe I will say it . . . where has the time gone?
Now our days are filled with parks and beaches, crayons and dolls. The blanket I used to sit you on is packed away in your closet. Not only do you wear shoes, but you wear them out and outgrow them faster than I can keep up with. Your growing feet have taken you up ladders and down slides, across burning pavements and sandy beaches, through plastic tunnels and pits of colorful balls. Your growing hands have colored pictures and operated cell phones, touched dolphins and thrown sand to the wind. Caring for your growing hair and fingernails eludes me. Your growing teeth exhaust me, and I am astonished at your growing vocabulary: hi, bye bye, all done, please, thank you, arigato, koko, nani, Mama, Dada, Baba, Gigi, I love you, no, hai . . . you also sing: Aruko, aruko, watashi wa genki . . .
At the park you scrape your knees and bump your head more times than I'd like to admit, but you brush it all off with careless ease and I burn with pride in your courage. It isn't easy to watch you climb that ladder, out of my reach. I could climb after you, a hand on your back as you climb, following you through the maze of plastic and metal, helping you down the slide . . . but you thrive in your independence, and I won't be the one to take it from you. So I watch, catching glimpses of you through the plastic slats . . . a hand, a curl, a smile . . . pieces of the young girl you are becoming . . . fearless and strong.
We read books together at night . . . sometimes the kind that are full of pictures, and sometimes the kind that fill your imagination with pictures . . . Frog and Toad are Friends and The Little Prince are my personal favorites to read to you. You smile when I do the different voices. I smile when you smile. We are mutually filled and edified.
How does your little brain work? How do catch on so quickly? You won't come in the house without taking your shoes off at the door. You turn the vaccuum on and off and push it around with vigor (you've tried scrubbing the toilet as well . . . is there something you're trying to tell us?). You make calls and talk on our cell phones. You drop coins in and make sales with your toy cash register. You methodically eat your blueberries like Pacman. You turn off the computer when you feel ignored. Among hordes of Hello Kitty charms, you find the one that lights up. And yes, when allowed, you even operate the stove. Everyone thinks their kid is a genius, but seriously.
I love the eating habits you've developed in Japan. You are lucky to have a steady diet of seasonal fruits and vegetables all year, and I hope this continues when we return to the states. This summer and fall you've dined on peaches, nectarines, Asian pears, apples, pineapple, kiwi, grapes, persimmons, bananas, blueberries, raspberries, watermelon, honeydew melon, mango, figs, cherry tomatoes, avocado, carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers, zucchini, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, daikon radish, pumpkin, sweet potatoes and yams. You also love rice, soba and udon noodles, eggs, cheese, tofu and fish. Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, hot dogs and chicken nuggets have never touched your lips. How will we fare in America?
My social butterfly, my twinkle toes, my peanut . . . "the time has gone" into the most joyous and heartbreaking moments of my life. Climb your ladders and scrape your knees. Get up and do it again. Throw that ball and squeal. Chase it and do it again. Empty your bowl of raisins. Pick them up and do it again. Fill your bucket with water. Dump it on your head and do it again. Watch your favorite movie. Watch it again. Tickle your favorite people. Tickle them again. Fill your life and the lives around you with simple joys and cycling trivialities. I will watch you through the plastic slats and marvel at your brave curiosity. I love you. Thank you for filling my cup each day.
Music Credits: Jose Gonzalez, "Cycling Trivialities"