Thursday, May 3, 2012

To my child


Dear Dylan,

I am rushing you.

From the moment I learned about your existence I have been trying to mold you into something bigger, something beyond our reach. I've been comparing you to others and there is no excuse for my actions. You don't deserve this.

When you were born, I wanted you to sleep naked on a blanket so that I could photograph your newness, but you never wanted to sleep. You watched me hide behind the camera and waited patiently for me to scoop you up and place you on my chest where you belonged.

_DSC7446 By Christmas, I was trying to sit you--my tiny fragile two month old--in your bumbo chair. You with your insecure neck leaning against the lip of your new seat, watched me as I hid behind the camera to photograph your new forced accomplishment.

As you grew I urged you to sit up, to roll over, to crawl, to walk. Everyone else his age is doing it, I told your dad. He's not everyone else, he told me.

You reached your milestones early: rolling over and eating solid foods at 4 months, crawling by 10 months, walking at 12 months. I pushed you to be like everybody else and you obliged. And now that you are 18 months old I am doing it again.

You are shy, just like Daddy and Mama were when we were kids. You don't like to be the center of attention and you don't like to be forced into crowds. I get that, buddy, I totally understand. So why do I find myself pushing you into the arms of others rather than letting you warm up on your own terms? Maybe I think that it's better for you to jump right into situations where you find yourself out of place rather than to get your feet wet. Maybe I don't want you to have my social anxiety.

So far you aren't talking much, save for simple words: truck, this, that, hot, cold, Daddy, fish, yes, milk, ouch. So I compare you to other kids your age. Are you talking enough? Your doctor says yes, but I'm not entirely sure. This lack of communication is my fault, sweetheart, because you and I can talk for days without words, and sometimes we do.

Today I tried to bribe you to talk with a cookie. I said, Dylan, you can have this cookie if you say 'truck', can you say 'truck'? Truck is your favorite word. You say 'truck' a thousand times a day. You'd sleep with your trucks if we let you, but you wouldn't say 'truck'. Instead you reached for that cookie and cried as I repeated, Say 'truck'. Say 'truck'. In the end and after much frustration I asked you, Do you want this cookie? and you replied with a solid Yes. As if to tell me, "Obviously, Mama".

Today was not great. I lost my cool about something really important--read: you--and spent half the day crying.  I found myself evaluating everything you did, how you played with your 18 month old peers, how you spoke, how you danced.  I found myself worrying that maybe your lack of communication means that something is wrong, or that maybe I'm doing a bad job of parenting you.  Please know, sweet boy, that I will always look out for your best interests and I will take care of you until I'm blue in the face. After a not-so-secretive sob session you crawled onto my lap and hugged me tightly for a long time. That was the best hug.

Tonight we marched around the living room to the tune of the Farmer in the Dell. We're marching around the room, we're marching around the room, hi-ho the dario we're marching around the room, and the drum says STOP! This is a song we sing at your twice weekly story hour at the library. You're getting really good at knowing when to march and when to stand still. We both laugh at the dogs as they follow us in circles. I love making memories together.

The last thing I want for you is to feel like you have to be like everyone else so I promise to work hard not to compare you to others from now on. But this doesn't mean I will ever stop pushing you to be your best. So keep marching to the beat of your own drum, little man. I will be right there cheering you on.

All my love,

Ps.  Don't grow too fast.