Jude is almost two. Not quite, but almost. Close enough to feel a little silly saying, “21 months,” because really… in twelve weeks? He’ll be two.
And yet, I go on saying, “21 months,” and correcting my husband with that joking wink. “He’s not two!” And my husband graciously smirks and says, “I’m sorry. He’s not two. He’s 21 months,” because he loves me and because he knows that once I have to say two, I can no longer deny the inevitable. Jude will be the baby that isn’t a baby anymore.
Oh, he’ll still be our baby. He’ll still be the smallest of us, the one we all vie to carry on our hip. We’ll still think of him as not being able to do this thing, or being to small to handle that thing, the one for “bigger littles.”
But already, it’s passing. I can’t tell you the last time one of us has called him “Baby Jude,” though for a while the two words were inseparable. Now we ask him questions and wait for verbal answers. We give directions and know he will most likely follow through. We see him getting mad and we stop, stoop down, and know that there’s a chance we can decode this little fit of passion before it becomes a fully blown storm. We expect “please” and “thank you.”
Jude has shed the skin of “baby” and fully taken on the role of toddler. In a year’s time, he’ll be a preschooler. Already, he shares far more in common with his 4 year-old brother than he does with a newborn being cradled in his mother’s arms. Before I know it, he’ll be learning to read, climbing trees, getting college fliers in the mail.
But today, he’s 21 months old. He likes two cups of kefir every morning, holding my hand through dinner, feeding the chickens, and coloring at the table while his older siblings do schoolwork. He has a huge vocabulary, but “yes” comes out “yesh,” and “Jack,” is “Ack.” He can’t climb onto the swings himself, but he loves to be hoisted and given a push. He can ride his scooter, and push himself around on his little trike. Pulling off shirts and socks is a breeze, but putting them on is still too much.
So, he’s not two, o.k.? He’s 21 months. And I’ll thank you very much for giving me the next twelve weeks to say so.