Newsletter: Month Thirty-nine

Dear Leta,

Last week you turned thirty-nine months old. The last four weeks of our lives have been some of the most stressful you have ever known, more stressful even than that one time you were watching an episode of Sesame Street and thought Andrea Bocelli was trying to kill Elmo. We moved into a new house and you’re sleeping in a new room, a bigger one that has enough space for you to stretch your long legs. In fact, your new room is bigger than any bedroom I have ever had in my life, bigger almost than the entire apartment your father once rented in San Francisco, an apartment that cost him so much money he had to sell body parts including the section of his brain that is in charge of PAYING ATTENTION TO THINGS. He can function now without it, but only because I am very good at jolting him out of his perpetual daydream by ramming him in the chest with my forehead. It doesn’t hurt him, I promise, it just makes him aware that he is about to run a stop sign.

We did not realize that this house was going to be so good for you in so many ways, and have been thrilled to watch you climb up and down the stairs by yourself with increasing speed. Because you were so late to walk, you have also been a little late to other things, including jumping and running and climbing a set of stairs. We have forced you to walk the stairs by yourself several times a day thinking that it would increase the strength in your legs, and what do you know! Our instincts were right! This hasn’t happened very often during our tenure as parents, that an instinct has turned out to be an actual instinct and not just severe heartburn. I remember the first time it happened, you were were about a year old and had been screaming for like, a half hour, and I couldn’t figure out why until I looked up and saw that your father was holding you upside-down by your ankles. Deep down I knew it wasn’t because you were hungry. AND I WAS RIGHT!

Your steady diet of French fries and chocolate ice cream has continued this month, and although I know I am going to get so much grief for admitting that I let you eat such awful things, it should be known that letting go of trying to control what you eat has been one of the most amazing things I have done for this family. You are a much happier kid, one who does not melt into a puddle of tears at meal time, and I think the important thing is that we all sit down to eat our meals together. Every single one. We often go out for meals together, too, and this is a special treat because my family never did this. It was just too much of an indulgence, but your father and I love waking up on Sunday mornings and watching the excitement wash over your face when we say that it’s time to go get breakfast. It’s not too expensive to do this once or twice a month, but my father, The Stingiest Man On Earth, is going to read this and calculate in his head just how much money it’s costing us, and then he’ll call to give me a stern lecture on how I’m wasting money. And then remind me that when I was a kid and asked if I could have a piece of gum he’d say, MAYBE FOR CHRISTMAS. I like to call this lecture Exactly Why My Dad Needs A Stiff Drink. And Probably More Sex.

(Hi, Dad! Love you!)

I’m writing this newsletter so late because I have been away on a vacation for the last several days. Last year I did way too much traveling, so much that this year I have purposefully planned fewer trips so that I could be home with you and your father more. While I was gone you were very good to your father and didn’t complain too much about the woes of being alive. In fact, you slept in late every morning while I was gone, an hour to two hours late, and then took long naps in the afternoon. This wouldn’t normally concern me, except for the fact that the dog acted strangely while I was gone, too, and slept the entire night next to your father in bed, something he never does when I’m around. I’m trying to decide what this means, and am hoping that you and the dog acted this way because you were coping with my absence. But my gut, it is telling me something different, that this was your way and the dog’s way of saying: Hey, Mom. You suck.

When you and your father came to pick me up at the airport I was relieved that you were excited to see me and didn’t instead choke on your own vomit, and after I dropped off my purse in the car I carried you back inside the airport so that we could wait together for my luggage. Your father had pulled your hair into a loose ponytail and dressed you in a pink summer dress, and your arms and legs were covered with yellow and green marker. I couldn’t believe how much you had grown in the time I was away, it seemed like half a foot. We stood beside the baggage carousel hand-in-hand, and you kept looking up at me as if you couldn’t believe it was me, while I kept leaning down to smell the top of your head, so thrilled that I was home. And then you started rubbing the back of my hand with your thumb, which is something I always do to you when I’m holding your hand to let you know that I am right here, that I have you and won’t let you go. I like to think that the reason you rubbed me back was because you believe me.