Dear Leaf Baby

Saturday was the one-year anniversary of the day you were born. Around here we call that a birthday. And it felt like a momentous occasion, so we did what sane people do on momentous occasions in January when they live somewhat near the ocean. We went to the beach.

You liked the beach, despite the fact that because of the wind, the coast in Northern California is a little bit like a slice of heaven that you can only stand for so long. It's an ear-ringing experience. It is January, I guess, but the thing is that it's like this most of the year. I was watching, and people kept coming and going, most staying for an average of eight minutes. People think, it's a beautiful day! And they decide to go to the beach, they arrive, look at the ocean and the beautiful coastline, and leave with a raging headache. We lasted the longest out of anyone there, mostly because our family is nuts. We ran around, I wrestled with seaweed trying to make a sculpture, your brother and sister rolled in the sand, your superstar dad took photos, and he and I danced you around. It was wonderful, really, and I forgot to bring you a hat, so I found your brother's extra hoodie; the one that is still too big on him, and you spent your birthday in a hoodie that was made for someone four years older than you.

The one-year birthday is so sweet, because you have absolutely no idea what is going on, what all the hoopla is about, or why we keep singing this weird song to you all day. You like the attention, but then, you always get attention. So, I've realized, the first birthday is about the pictures. Our first birthday celebrations have been relatively small. For Kid A's first, we were in Yellowstone Park with some friends and sat a hot spring called the Boiling River for hours. He loved it, mostly because someone had moved rocks to form a pool that was kid-perfect in temperature. YaYa's birthday was nice. We spent it with your grandparents and had peach pie instead of cake, and there were great pictures! And your birthday was great, if you want to know. The ocean was astoundingly beautiful, you ate some sand, played with some rocks, and crawled around happy as a clam. Your brother and sister ran around like we'd recently let them out of their cages, and I watched you and thought about this year. I think I've been happier than ever before, my son. You are a very important puzzle piece.

It's funny to think that soon you will walk. Probably next month I'll be talking about your first steps. It's even funnier to think that you will one day be taller than me. Sometimes I see moms go by with their tall sons, even the middling tall ones, the ones up to their noses, and I get a lump in my throat, thinking of myself with my three kids around me like flowers, a hand on my shoulder, a slight squeeze on the hand from YaYa. Of course, these are just images in my mind, and when I see those moms with the tall children I don't see the argument about whether or not the family can afford a new gaming system that just occured in the car. Still, thoughts like these, about the boy you will be, help to put the 1:50 AM poop of last night into perspective. (Can we synchronize our schedules, by the way, lovie? Just asking.) And then you will be almost grown and one day I will stand on a chair to scold you, like an old friend of the family did with her kids, and you will probably have to try not to laugh. But now, now you are not even walking, and you say only a few words. You say MAMA, and DAD! and NIE NIE! and you pretend to say several phrases like "I love you" and "Thank you" and you use your sign language, although every single time you want something you let out a great shout and I remind you to say "Please" or "More" in sign instead of shouting, and you do it with your kewpie smile and your fanged teeth (your side teeth came in first, instead of the front ones, giving you fangs that don't worry me too much, since when I hold you up to the mirror I can still see your reflection) and then you shout again if I'm not fast enough. You play with mostly bigger kid toys now, like blocks and the magnets on the fridge and drums and trucks, and I keep thinking that I need to get rid of that basket of baby toys that is sitting in the living room, but I never do, and there it sits, this silly basket of toys for a baby who is obviously not a baby anymore.

But, on Saturday Kid A and YaYa climbed a mountain. Or, it was a rock the size of a mountain. Your dad helped them climb it (he "helped" YaYa by carrying her up) and there they were, silhouetted against the sky and the sparkling ocean, two great explorers. I could see them and hear their seagull voices calling at me to look at them! they're so high! and I sat with you in the circle of my arms feeling so thankful and proud of my family, and I kissed your fuzzy head and was glad that we have a little more baby time left, you're not such a big boy after all.

Photos courtesy of my Superstar Husband.