Friday, December 10, 2010

From the Mouths of Babes...

Dear Amari,

I've started this blog about a half a dozen times in the past two weeks, but can't seem to get past the first paragraph. Some days I've complained about the weather, the cabin fever that comes with combination of winter and stay-at-home parenting. Other times I try to capture your latest development or accomplishment or just the way you bite into a piece of cheese and let out an exaggerated, heart-melting, "Mmmmmm." Trust me, Amari, it's not for lack of inspiration - just a serious lack of time.

Your growth as a little human being is accelerating now. Every day you do something new that makes me think, "Wow, she's really starting to get things." Everywhere we go people marvel at how much you've grown, how much you look like your mother, and how doll-like and adorable you are. Tonight, as we walked through the Botanical Gardens, lit up like Disneyland for the holidays, an chorus of "Awww, she's so cute," echoed in your wake. It's true - you are awwww-fully cute, but more importantly your kind, loving personality is beginning to shine through. Are you a little bit clingy and whiny sometimes? Absolutely. But you more than make up for it with smiles, and laughs, and hugs, and kisses. 

As we shared lunch the other day, I was silently cursing myself for not writing more. I feel like you've turned a corner in the last month - jumped from infant to toddler, baby to little girl, and student to teacher. Pasta was on the menu, and you took each noodle with your hand and felt it carefully with your fingers before you slowly raised it to your mouth. For the rest of the day, I made mental notes of the things you remind me to do in my life. In no particular order, here are a few of your teachings.


Seven Lessons From Amari

1. Eat slowly and with your hands. Amari a grazer. She does better with an assorted plate of snacks on the living room table than with solid meal time in her high chair. She'll grab a cracker or a grape, traipse off on some errand, then return later for some apple or a yogurt melt. Growing up in India we at with our hands all the time, and I think it slowed me down a little because I wasn't very good at it. It's also pretty fun. 

2. Hug and kiss people with reckless abandon. Now that Amari seems to appreciate the hug and kiss, she surprises me with sneak attacks when we're walking to the car or lying on the floor reading a book. I'll be talking to the lady at the bank or the coffee shop, and I'll hear a warning smack of the lips before I turn into an unabashed and spontaneous kiss. More recently, she has mastered the first part of blowing a kiss. Raising her hand to her mouth and kissing it is her latest form of good-bye. 

3. To set appropriate boundaries. When Hunter hit Amari, it was called abuse. Now that she's retaliating, I call it boundary-setting. Granted, she will sometimes do a preemptive violent waving of her hands as he approaches, she generally reserves her aggression for when Hunter takes things, hugs too hard, or tries to sit on her lap - which is interestingly one of his favorite moves. Jim was telling me about a kid who was hitting Hunter at the park when the mom came over and asked Jim if little Billy was being too "assertive." Semantics are a wonderful thing when your a parent. 

4. To always go after what you want. Although Amari's vocabulary hasn't evolved past the words "Hell-a," "More," and "Dis," the latter is used with her pointer finger to obtain almost anything she wants. It's often an exercise in frustration for Carrie and me, but Amari will continue to exploit her very useful demonstrative adjective until we figure out what she's after.

5. To greet every day, everyone, and everything every chance you get. More often than not, when Amari wakes me up in the morning it's with a "Hell-a." I'm not always as joyous as she is to greet the day, but as the morning goes on and the caffeine goes down, her enthusiasm becomes contagious. Once we're down in the living room, she begins saying hello to the cats, then to Granny C across the way, then Moonshadow and Peanut, the dogs, and so on.

6. To re-read books you like. This can either be right away, daily, weekly, and anywhere between twice and about six zillion times. This has prompted me to come up with the idea I call the "I Fucking Hate This Book" exchange program for parents. We've already swapped one set with the Calverts and I look forward to finding another family to unload/share those gems with. When I was eleven I read the book "Tex" by S.E. Hinton. Jamie, the female lead, was my first literary crush. When I finished the book, I was so smitten by her character, that I turned back to the beginning and read through the night so I could stay close to her. Perhaps she has a little crush on Harold...or the Purple Crayon.

7. To laugh and cry a little each day. Sometimes Amari will do both of these things within moments of each other. Her laugh is infectious and her tears come fast and full. When she's tired, they come even faster. When she's well rested, she's absolutely delightful.

Once again, it's getting late and I'm getting tired. Tonight at the Botanical Gardens, Amari discovered the joys of walking down hill, letting her weight and momentum carry one foot in front of the other. Sometimes it takes her a little while to warm up to new situations, but once she does she's off to the races.

This is so much fun...

Dad Gets Artsy with the lights at The Botanical Gardens

Amari walking up a storm at The Gardens

Box cars at the Calverts

Awwww, she really is sooooo cute.

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