Monday, May 21, 2007

23 Months: Dear Max

Dear Max:

Today you are 23 months old. All of a sudden, you are telling me in a thousand ways how grown up you are, and how much you know and can do on your own, and I’m knocked out every day by what an amazing kid you are. It’s not so much that 23 months is so much older than 22 months was, but it just seems so much closer to two than 22 months did. When people ask me how old you are now, I usually tell them “Almost two,” because you are, in so many ways. Daddy spent a lot of time and energy in the last couple of weeks trying to teach you how to say “I’m two!” even though you’re not. He figures that by the time you learn, you actually will be two.

Two weeks ago, you and I were sitting on the couch with an alphabet book, when you pointed to the cover and said, “A. Blue A.” It was a blue A, and when you opened the book and began pointing at things: “Nanana” on the B page, “Shoesh” and “shocks” (shocks can be either socks or sharks, depending on what you’re pointing at, but in this case, they were socks), and, absolutely most hilariously to your father and I, a t-shirt was a “shit,” Daddy and I looked at each other in total amazement. Neither of us had any idea you knew so many words, and I wasn’t sure if we just hadn’t been paying attention or if you’d simply been saving them up, but with great juvenile glee, we’ve been urging you to tell us what it is that we’re pulling over your head every morning when we get you dressed.

Your grandma and grandpa Chase are coming to visit this week. That means that you will probably go for lots of long, slow walks through a borderline-bad neighborhood to the grocery store to buy animal crackers. Grandma and Grandpa don’t know yet that you now demand to be given everything in the grocery store, but considering your record of never throwing a tantrum for anyone but your father or me, you probably will be wonderfully well-behaved for them, and they will buy you anything that you can ask for by name. That is what this particular set of grandparents do. So hurry up and learn some more words, like “swingset” and “Audi” and “discretionary income.”

This month I’ve started to wonder what regrets I’ll eventually have about your childhood. Will I be sorry I didn’t stay home longer with you? Will I wish you knew your family better? As much as I make fun of all of your grandparents, I love them, and they will not live forever. Will I regret that you’re growing up here in the city, where I suspect I won’t ever feel like you are safe, between the shootings and kidnappings and the unbelievable rash of high school kids killed in car accidents?

The answer, I know already, is that I will regret all of these things, and I still wouldn’t change them. I will always wish for more hours in the day to spend running around the park, jostling you up and down on my shoulders to make you laugh. I will miss your whack-a-doo assortment of grandparents and uncles when they aren’t around to make fun of anymore. And I will always be a little afraid for you, because you never love anybody like I love you without the realization that people are vulnerable, and loving them makes you vulnerable too.

The answer is probably that I will have lots of regrets, but that regrets are part of the human condition, and life with you is so limitlessly sweet that I can live with the regret, and the frustrations and annoyances of being constantly responsible for a nearly-two-year-old, and all the rest of it. I can ignore the rest of the flotsam and jetsam that this life brings, all because of you. And when you throw yourself face-first off the couch and bash your adorable nose in, or throw a tantrum in the middle of a public place, or repeat at top volume whatever colorful swear word I just said (all things you did this month), and your Daddy looks at me and says, "Still worth it?" neither of us need to hesitate for a moment before saying to each other, "Hell yes."


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