Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
Just A Junk Drawer Dream
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Newsletter: Month Eleven

Dear Violet,

It's been a big month for you. We spent your first Thanksgiving at GranElaine's house and I'll be damned, if everyone didn't showed up on time, nobody cried, no one got in a fight and the cops weren't called. It was a Butler holiday miracle! There was The Incident with the turkey that SOMEONE who had one too many attempted to deep fry before passing out on the couch, but overall, Thanksgiving was a surprising success.

Just before dinner was served you were acting very tired so I took you upstairs to lay you down and that pissed you off something fierce. All manner of screaming and threatening cries ensued. Thank God we're generally such a loud, obscene bunch that no one could really hear you up there. After about five minutes I brought you down at which point you proceeded to spread sweet potatoes all over your face, happy as a clam.

This month also marks the first time you've been sick. I came home from work one Friday night and you were as stuffed as the Thanksgiving bird, snorting and snotting all over your crib. So Mama lifted you out and held you in the rocking chair until you fell asleep, which was a considerable time later. A small part of me enjoyed your sickness if only because you allowed me to hold you, cuddled right into my body. Usually you're tougher to hold than a freshly caught trout. You spent the entire weekend crying, feverish and miserable. Pop and I spent the weekend rocking you and loving you and obsessively checking your temperature which never went above 101.

Dealing with a sick child is parental rite of passage I didn't know about. I'd heard about the horrors of breast feeding and the sleepless nights before baby sleeps for more than a few hours at a time, but for some reason, no one said to me, you just wait until she's sick. Because you were the sick one I didn't realize exactly how miserable I'd be. No sleep plus worrying about you is the worst. You flopped around in your crib like a deranged bunny rabbit. Each time you'd whimper sickly Pop would say "Oh man, this is bad, we should probably go to the hospital." Then I'd say "She's fine, good lord, babies get sick all the time." And you were fine. Pop's just a delicate sort. You'll learn this as you get older. Sometimes you've just gotta humor the old boy, especially during the holidays. But more on that a bit later. Come Monday you were right as rain and Mama was sick as hell. But that's okay, I'd far rather me than you.

You're starting to stand all by yourself this month, really pushing the limits of your balance. You'll be standing in your playpen, watching Charlie Brown and let go of the sides to adjust your binky. You'll stand there, all by yourself for a good ten seconds before you realize you're standing and grab for the sides. It reminds me of The Coyote in the Loony Tunes cartoon. He kind of hangs in the sky until he looks down and realizes he's stepped off the cliff, then he falls. You're also taking tiny steps on your own so long as someone's holding your hands. Such sweet, tentative, little steps toward an entire future of walking and wishing yet someone hold you again because, damn, life is a lot of standing and walking.

For the first time in, oh, since well before you were born Pop and I went to a movie for his birthday. Since you've been alive we've had a babysitter over (hi Shelby!) maybe three or four times. Three of those times were to attend therapy. So this was the first time we had a babysitter over so we could do something fun. Shelby likes to shame my mothering skills by putting your hair in the cutest little pigtails ever fashioned in the history of the universe. I try to replicate them but good God, those rubber ands are smaller than the ones I used to wear on my braces in junior high. How Shelby manipulates those into your hair is beyond me. After several broken rubber bands and no less than five curse words mouthed next to your sweet noggin I gave up and just made sure I took lots of photos of Shelby's handiwork instead.

Pop still takes you walking in the dog park nearly every day although you've damn near outgrown the Bjorn. Your legs hang down to a precarious part of Pop's anatomy which means that if you kick with excitement, which you do on a regular basis, Pop has to guard himself carefully or drive home singing the soprano parts of all the Christmas music he forces us to listen to between Thanksgiving and the New Year. You, Pop and Max & Milo sure are cute wandering around the dog park like you do, singing songs, talking to the trees and just the general rabble-rousing you and Pop are prone to getting up to.

The other day you and Pop were playing your goodbye game at the front window. Pop leaped out from nowhere and you were giggling. I happened to look up at you from my spot sitting on the couch and noticed that you had four little Chiclet teeth emerging from your top shelf of gums. My heart kind of broke a little. Never again would I see my little sweetheart's gummy grins. Granted, toothy grins are just as delicious, but Mama has a bit of a thing for your gums. So the tooth tally stands at six now. Four on top and two on bottom.

I should probably tell you now, this first year, so it doesn't come as a surprise later when you realize that your Pop loses his mind at Christmas time. I only tell you now because it will take that long to brace you for the years of reindeer antler headbands, singing stuffed animals, so many Christmas lights on the tree you feel dizzy, a moratorium on any music or movie not of the Christmas persuasion, matching holiday outfits, Santa Claus hats and on and on. Seriously, behold the manic gleam in this man's eyes:

Yes. Yes you are wearing a Santa Claus suit. Pop enforced a similar dress code on Thanksgiving. Holiday ensembles Pop picked up when I wasn't looking. To steal Santa's thunder when you finally did meet The Bearded One. And steal his thunder you did... and nearly his beard too.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. First there was a tree to buy and decorate. And the house too! It isn't Christmas unless we're availing ourselves of the bathroom facilities under the watchful eye of as many as four or five Santa Clauses displayed around the bathroom... and maybe a snowman or seven.

Don't be scared. I'll help explain him to your friends as you get older. We'll get through it together. For now, I've told Pop you aren't even a year old and won't know a gift from wrapping paper and will likely prefer the paper but he doesn't care. He is adamant that CHRISTMAS IS A TIME OF WONDERMENT, GODDAMMIT, AND WE WILL ENGAGE IN MERRY MAKING IF IT KILLS US!

DISCLAIMER: I was not involved in the acquisition of this Christmas ornament.

Merrymaking aside, you are a pure joy to be around and I love being with you. You're a pretty cool, little person. I mean, sure you get somewhat abusive if I don't read "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish" a minimum of eight times per sitting, but that's okay, we all have our thing, you know? Most of the rest of the time you're a champion. Cool as ice. Giggling and grinning and having a grand, old time. I like to think that's your personal life policy. Sure, stuff sucks sometimes but that never really lasts long and you're always back on top in no time.

I love you.