Letter to Camille: Nine Months

Happy 9 month birthday, sweet pea! Just as in previous months, you are doing so much more now than you were just 4 weeks ago — but the major difference this time is that I think you’re beginning to realize just how much you can do. Your ability to crawl has opened up whole new possibilities for you. Until now, you’ve had to rely on someone to taxi you from one spot to another, from one activity to the next. We’d have to hand you toy after toy, or a bottle, or a banana puff while you sat patiently (or sometimes impatiently) for us to figure out what you wanted.
But now, you can decide where you want to go and what you want to grab – until Mommy or Daddy steers you elsewhere. It is so much fun to sit back and just watch as your own initiative and independence kick in.
And over the last couple of weeks, I’ve often called you The Dismantler. Why? Because with your newfound freedom, I’ve discovered that your favorite thing to do is dismantle things.
One of the first times you began crawling around your room, you headed straight for the cabinet where your stereo sits. I thought you might be attracted by the blinking indicator lights on the stereo where your John Denver/Muppets tape was playing, but instead, you reached right for the stack of CDs beside it. One by one, you pulled down a CD case, inspected it, tasted it, and set it aside. Except Rachmaninoff. You kept that one in your left hand the whole time while your right was busy sampling new CDs.
On the floor in the living room, you headed straight for our bookcase, where you proceeded to snatch the Handyman magazine from the bottom shelf and shred the cover. And eat it.
Sometimes, I also call you my little goat. I think shredding and eating paper might be your second favorite thing to do.
Then you crawled to our TV cabinet and started pulling our DVDs off the shelf.
I can’t explain how much fun it is to observe you. I guess after all these months of assuming I knew what entertained you, it’s fascinating to watch as you teach me about what is really entertaining to you.
Although, all this exploration on your part means that taking you places has become much more complicated. Just the other day, I packed my lunch and took you to Daffin park. Previously, I could sit you on the blanket, surround you with some toys, and you’d play happily while watching the other children on the playground.
But the second your little body hit the blanket, you started crawling toward the edge. And before I could even unpack my sandwich, I was retrieving you from the blanket’s corner where you were busy sticking your hand in the sand and lifting it to your lips. I know you need to have the experience of getting filthy and playing in the dirt, but I’m just not ready for it. I had to systematically feed you banana puffs to keep you still long enough for me to gobble my lunch.
You’ve also learned how to sit up on your own. Until recently, you could stay seated if I placed you in a sitting position. But now, you can sit up by yourself. You enjoy this new ability immensely, but I find it a little disturbing during the night.
Before, if you’d wake up in the middle of the night crying I’d go into your room to soothe you, and you’d be lying there in bed ready for me to pop in a pacifier and rub your cheek for a minute. So I was stunned the other night when I cracked open the door to see you sitting up, looking at me. You looked so … big. And AWAKE. I couldn’t just rub your cheek. I had to convince you that you actually wanted to lie down. Which you didn’t.
We’ve lowered your crib mattress. You big girl!
This new independence has also come with a new vocalization in the form of the most blood-curdling-yet-somehow-adorable squeal. It’s not a cry you make when you’re really hurt or upset or hungry or tired. It’s a squeal you make when you want to boss us around or if you aren’t getting your way. Because for the first time, I think you’ve really begun to realize you have a WAY. And we should follow it.
I took this picture earlier tonight when I was feeding you dinner. I snapped it when you were mid-squeal just after you slammed your open palms on the tray. This was a happy squeal – the kind you unleash when you’re trying to get across a point but you’re still in a good mood. You were trying to tell me to either give you a banana puff or get you out of the highchair.
But earlier, when your Daddy made you let go of the vacuum cleaner cord, you let out an angry squeal. So loud. So angry! And I couldn’t stop laughing at you, which you didn’t seem to appreciate. I was clearly not taking you seriously.
Unfortunately, this has also been a month of viruses. Norovirus and Adnovirus are new four letter words in my book. I’m so sorry you’ve been sick – and thank you for being such a sweet baby despite your fevers and aches and pains.
But thankfully, you had enough healthy days to try a very important dish. And I’m proud to say, you are a true southern belle.
After your first bite of my cheese grits, your eyes lit up and you crawled over for more.
Even though we had all those sick days, it’s been a great month little sunshine. And I’m so glad that despite all your new independence, you still love to be cuddled. Yesterday I was busy with something in your room and you were crawling around nearby, when you crawled toward me and just rested your head on my leg. As if to say, “Hi. Don’t mind me. Just wanted to be close.” Me too, baby. Me too. I love you very much, little Goat Dismantler Cuddlybear.