Dear Asher

Dear Asher,
Today you are 15 months old. I have mentally started this letter to you a thousand times since you turned one three months ago. I can’t really explain why I haven’t really written it until now, except to say that I’m sort of speechless when I think about expressing to you all I feel about you and your first year of life.
So I’ll just dive in, and let the words come higgledy-piggledy as they may. Perhaps I’ll sort them out later on. Perhaps not.
You are a dream come true. You are not the dream I thought you would be, but I’m more in love with you than I thought possible. This is amazing to me. It fills me with overwhelming joy to find myself besotted with you, adoring you, treasuring you. There was a dark moment before your arrival when I wondered if I could. Now I know it’s all OK. We are fine. We are as we were meant to be. I know this is only the first of many important lessons you will teach me.
At 12 months, you were always happy, easy-going, and adaptable, so long as I wasn’t too far away. Your smile was like sunshine and your laugh completely contagious. They still are now, but now, at 15 months, we see another side to your personality. Now you are very good at showing your displeasure when something is bothering you. Now you tell us so clearly what you want and how you want it. Now we see you experimenting with a greater range of moods and expressions. You have a pout that is beyond adorable. You have a glower that would be truly intimidating, if it weren’t so funny: eyes glaring out from beneath knitted brows, lowered head, pouty mouth sometimes featuring a prominently jutting lower lip. What is amazing is how long you can maintain this go-to-hell look. (There is a photograph of me as a very young girl wearing Oakland Raiders pajamas and the exact same go-to-hell look. Whenever you flash this look at my parents, they get all nostalgic for the days when I was small and prissy.) You seem to have a stubborn streak in you that may ultimately rival your brother’s. You also seem to have the capacity to hold a grudge for quite a while. Now you throw tantrums when things don’t go the way you want them to, like if we take something away from you, such as a sharp knife or a tiny LEGO piece.
Most of the time, however, you are happy. You are playful and initiate games with us and with Lucas. You still love peekaboo, though it’s not the Ultimate Game it was a few months ago. You like people to chase you through the house, saying “I’m gonna get you!” in a singsong voice. You laugh like crazy when we play chase.
You crawl so fast now! I keep thinking you will walk any day now, but I keep being wrong about that. I suppose I will be wrong until the day I’m finally right! Anyway, it’s impressive how quickly you can cross the room. Sometimes you chase after balls or a pacifier. Sometimes you’re rushing toward me to be scooped up and spun around and nuzzled.
We spend a fair amount of time outdoors now that the weather is so beautiful. You bravely explore the backyard, navigating steps, crossing bark-filled planters, sitting on my flowers. You seem to like the grass lawn and the bark a lot. I see you scratching your little fingernails into the earth at every opportunity. You love coming across a puddle of water from my garden hose. You sit in it, splash, and hoot your pleasure, signing over and over again “water!” The sign is often accompanied by your saying “wa wa wa” as your hands touch your lips.

Your signing is blooming into a truly useful method of communication. I’m so pleased that you are able to make your needs and wants known by using signs. You’re a little inconsistent sometimes still, and you sometimes confuse them, but more often than not now you perform a babyish variation on the signs we’ve taught you. Let’s see … you now use these signs: water, eat, more, milk (sometimes), dog, hat, cold, phone (you made this one up yourself), please (rarely), pluggie (rarely), fish, cookie/cracker. Today for the first time you signed for meat.
You also communicate with a whole range of whoops and hoos and finger pointing. The clever combo of the sign for “more” and strategic pointing usually makes it clear what you want. This combo is very often “more phone,” “more water,” or “more mommy.” Basically, “more” also functions as “I want.” You’re saying “Hi!” with waving now, particularly if you see a child or a beautiful woman pass by. You smile charmingly as if to say, “How you doin’?” You don’t say goodbye yet, but you do wave whenever it becomes clear that someone is leaving, or that we are leaving other people.
Although it used to be very simple feeding you, now your eating is unpredictable. Some days you want only finger foods, or “real” food; other days, you seem to prefer eating only baby food purées. I think your favorite foods are peculiar in one so young as you: onions, meat, strawberries, broccoli, freeze dried apples, peanut butter, stir-fried veggies such as bean sprouts and celery. And things that most babies love, such as bananas and avocados, seem to gross you out. Some days you’ll eat rice, others not. You get a horrified look on your face every time I offer you diluted juice, so I’m thinking you don’t have much of a sweet tooth yet. Which is just fine by me. I had better go cook up some onions for you.
We are having some trouble with your rough hands these days. You delight in pinching my tender spots, especially my breasts and nipples, and frankly, it hurts like hell. I know you think of these items as your own personal property, but they are mine too. We talk a lot about having “gentle hands” and using “soft touches,” but you don’t seem to care to follow our advice. It’s awful when you’re drifting off to sleep (which is my objective) and you knead my skin in your talon-tipped hands until I’m crazy from the pain and irritation. But since I want you to be sleeping, I try to bravely survive it. Sometimes I fail and jump up shouting “Ow! Ow! Ow! Cut it out, Dammit!” This is not a good nap-promoting strategy.
You also hit your brother sometimes or pull his hair. This is largely due to Lucas’s weird need to put his head on you as often as possible. I watch him approach your face with his own, and see you grimace and try to lean away. I think he wants to love on you and cuddle you as much as the rest of us do. Sometimes you’re willing to tolerate his affections. In fact, just yesterday I saw him lean in and you gave him the most giant hug around his head and kissed him in your slobbery way on his cheek.
Shades of sibling rivalry do appear sometimes, however. The worst is when Lucas climbs into my lap or into my bed to snuggle me. God forbid if he gets between you and me! You squeal and whine and cry and try to kill him for touching your mommy. We’re always telling you, “I’m Lucas’s mommy, too, Asher. You have to share, just like he has to share.” Then we spend some time reassuring Lucas that you don’t realize you’re being mean and stingy. You’re just a baby. The great thing about Lucas is that even if he gets angry with you, he rarely holds a grudge against you for more than a moment. It’s really rather remarkable how much he is willing to forgive. Truly, you have the best big brother ever.

What I love is how you show affection to me. Sometimes you reach up and put your hands on either side of my face. You hold my face so tenderly and bring your own forehead close to touch mine. When you hold me there, head to head like that, I feel really loved. I can’t explain why you do this, but somehow you’ve come to associate  bonking foreheads gently as an expression of loving devotion. Which is fine, most of the time. When you do it in the middle of the night—when you crawl over me while I’m sleeping and slam your noggin into mine, waking me out of a sound sleep with searing pain—I don’t like it so much then.
So far, you really seem to like other children. When we go to our “Mommy Baby” class, you love to say “Hi” to the other babies and want to touch their faces. Yesterday we were there and you really owned the room. Your behavior was different, as though you finally decided you felt completely comfortable there. You explored every nook and cranny, swept toys of the shelves, got into the tree blocks, and cuddled every Waldorf-style baby doll before biting it in the head. You strutted your new talents (briefly standing unaided) and flirted with the teacher and all the mommies. It was as though you decided to put on all your charm and have a great time. You really seem to like Willow, the cute little girl who visited our house last week with her mom Peggy. You played nicely with Cameron and Gavin and Noah, too. When we visited the farm, you got super excited when we stood by the sheep enclosure and by the chickens. You rapidly signed “dog” repeatedly while whooping with pleasure. At this point, every animal you see is a dog to you.
So, yeah. Standing up is the big deal these days. You can walk a little if we take your hands and help you balance, but you don’t like to do it for long. You know, though, that these new skills are important because we make a big deal out of them, clapping and praising you and telling you how big you are now. You look so proud of yourself. I honestly thought you’d be walking by now, but you seem to be on your own timetable. Given how fast you crawl, I guess walking from place to place would really slow you down.
You are brilliant, too. I am constantly amazed at what you already know. You seem to have figured out the use of nearly every household object. You know that keys should be inserted into locks, that the computer mouse makes the pictures on the monitor change, that the spoon is for stirring. You know what the TV remote does, and how to turn on or change the TV station if the remote has been hidden from you. You know exactly what button to push on the DVD player to make the disc eject. You know what a hairbrush is for and what a toothbrush is for. You adore the phone more than anything else and have figured out its major buttons, including speaker phone. You sit placidly for long stretches flipping the pages of books like a lifelong reader. If you try really hard, you can even use table utensils appropriately. It’s weird to realize that you really are watching everything we do with every object all the time. You learn by watching us, which reminds me to be on my best behavior.
There is more to say. I should talk about cosleeping with you, going places with you, how you’re now into everything and much mischief. But perhaps I’ll save those things for later. I suppose I wasn’t speechless after all.
Asher, I love you completely and forever.
 P.S. I’m sorry I forgot the camera when we went to your first dental checkup.

7 Responses to “Dear Asher”

  • joygantic
    April 30, 2008 at 8:22 pm

    How beautiful–what an amazing document this will be for him later in life.


  • foseelovechild
    April 30, 2008 at 10:52 pm

    I love you, Sara. I didn’t think you could be any sweeter and I marvel at what motherhood has blossomed in you.


  • kittiliscious
    May 1, 2008 at 12:42 pm



  • kimkimkaree
    May 1, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    I’m with FLC. I’m glad you’re writing and thank you for sharing.


  • smiley_t
    May 1, 2008 at 2:08 pm

    What a beautiful letter. It’s a great idea to write letters too your kids. Maybe I should do that for Amelia. Do you write one each year?


  • sarabellae
    May 12, 2008 at 11:37 am

    Thanks, baby. Thank you for all the support over the years.


  • sarabellae
    May 12, 2008 at 11:38 am

    Thank you. I have tried to write one every year. I have been writing about Lucas since before he was born, but not always in letter form.


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  • About Sara

    Thanks for visiting! I’m Sara, editor and writer, wife to Ian, and mother of two precious boys. I am living each day to the fullest and with as much grace, creativity, and patience as I can muster. This is where I write about living, loving, and engaging fully in family life and the world around me. I let my hair down here. I learn new skills here. I strive to be a better human being here. And I tell the truth.

    Our children attend Waldorf school and we are enriching our home and family life with plenty of Waldorf-inspired festivals, crafts, and stories.

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    “Love doesn’t just sit there like a stone; it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new.” —Ursula K. LeGuinn

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