News From The Woods.27


By Bob Ketchum

Originally Published January 1, 1999

"A Letter To Robert"

Dear Robert,

Another year has passed, and now you're 13 months old! I know now why young parents use months instead of years. Because SO much happens in the short space of a single month when you are that young. Let's see..... How do I sum up the past year?

Let me begin by telling you the thing that bothers me MOST right now. It really makes my heart ache when I leave you off at the babysitter's and you reach out for me and cry as I have to pull away and leave you there. It hurts your mother as well, but we can't seem to be able to do anything about that right now because we both have to work in order to make enough money to make ends meet. Our hope is that someday VERY soon we can keep you home with us more often and we won't feel like someone else is raising you. The sitter is a really nice lady who thinks you are wonderful, but we just want to have you here with us so we can see each new discovery you make.

This past summer you discovered the lake! You know, we must have tried every single kind of "baby life jacket" made, but they just didn't work with you. We finally settled on a "floater ring" which you sat in and paddled around the water. As you got bolder and more confident you started sticking your face down in the water and making your Mommy a nervous wreck! I imagine by next summer you will be floating around and hanging on to Bear's tail as he swims around the boat. I'll never forget your first boat ride! As you sat in my lap at the helm of our trusty (and rusty) old "Pontune Boat" and I gave it the gas, your eyes opened up so wide and you clutched onto my arm with one hand while grabbing at the steering wheel with the other. When we reached full throttle you turned around and saw all the spray shooting out from the motor (and all the noise accompanying it) and giggled with total abandonment. You were so amazed by that outboard motor and watched it for the entire time we were underway. That first time you were so excited that you just pooped in your pants! Mommy got such a laugh out of that because you were sitting in my lap at the time . . . . .

And speaking of Bear, he sure was jealous for the first few months, with you getting all the attention and babytalk, which is usually reserved for him. He still gets very jealous when we play on the floor together, and "muscles" his way into the area by licking you in the face. You used to be a bit scared of him but now you just stand your ground and go "A-h-h-h-h-h" as he slurps at you. We try to keep the two of you apart when the grandparents are visiting, as I don't think they would be too keen on the way he licks your face, especially when you have food in your mouth! He has learned to sit next to your high chair as you always drop food for him to clean up. Sometimes you offer him a tidbit, then pull it out of his mouth and laugh as he starts to gently take it. You are so cruel! As he lays on the floor next to you while playing, sometimes you will walk over and step on his paw on purpose. He always pulls his paws in and sometimes, rather than get mad at you, he will simply get up, go over to the couch and get up on it, laying his muzzle on the arm of the couch and letting out a big sigh or grunt. He is so patient with you! I KNOW you will be the best of buddies next year when you are old and big enough to play outside. As soon as Bear realizes you can throw the stick I have lost BOTH of you!

You started dragging your stomach across the floor when you were about 6 months old, and within three weeks you were testing your "land-legs". Now, at year's end, you are running around the house so fast we can't keep up with you. And I love to watch you dance. It's kind of a short squat up and down, once or twice, and then you freeze in position for a minute. I can tell you've got "soul" in the way you squat and smile, then turn and look at us as if to say: "Look at me Mommy! I'm gettin' down!" You really like music. The livelier the beat, the better you like it. And your drumming is nothing short of incredible. Nobody believes us when we tell them how you can play the cymbals. You sit on my small floor tom and pick up the drumsticks (one at a time - proper matched grip) then "test" the cymbals for a minute before you really warm up. You really like the big ride cymbals and play them with two sticks, but you only hit my China-type cymbal one time, and then wait and listen to it's unique sound as it dies out, before resuming your cymbal serenade. When we applaude you really turn up the heat and start hitting cymbals, toms, snare and anything else within the reach of your drumsticks. And just the other day you played your first triplet! If I didn't know better I'd swear you meant to do it!

At Thanksgiving you discovered Pumpkin Pie, and your world changed! And so did Mommy's, because NOW she has to make you pumpkin pie at least once a month. One of our favorite things to do is watch your eyes light up when you see Mommy carrying in a pumpkin pie. Your eyes get real big and you say in a really low baby-whisper "P-I-E". The "P" is pronounced, but the "ie is nothing more than air escaping your little lungs. Then you giggle and point to the pie for mass consumption. You never seem to get tired of it, and you act like you are through with baby food forever. We have several jars on the counter which will no doubt spoil before you ever touch baby food again. You LOVE spaghetti, mashed potatoes, fruit, eggs (in ANY form), bacon, sausage, waffles, hamburger, hot dogs, pizza, and several varieties of veggies. As a matter of fact, there's not much you WON'T eat. We are constantly amazed! Even more amazing is that at only a year old you had 16 teeth!

Lately when you have a soiled diaper you will just lead us into your room to be changed. When you are ready for beddie-bye you just get up and start walking towards your room, turning around occasionally to make sure we are following you obediently. If it's after your usual bedtime and you are a little crabby one of us will change you as the other one blows bubbles over you. (Spoiled? Naaaaaaaaa………….) We started giving you a bath in the kitchen sink, but that didn't last very long as you quickly outgrew the sink and we had to move you into the bathtub. You LOVE the tub because now you have room to move around and play with your Sesame Street bath toys. The only problem is keeping you from standing up and washing you by bending over the tub (Ow! My BACK!)

You met your sister for the first time in October, and was she surprised when you seemed to know her right away. She didn't know we've been playing "Where's Sister?" for the past few months. That's where you will point to her picture hanging up on the living room wall and say "Sister!" She was SO excited to see you after seeing nothing but pictures and video of you since your birth. And now that the "family name" will carry on in you, she is also relieved that the weight is off her shoulders. Right away you climbed up in her lap and started playing with her. I don't think she wanted to go home when it was time for them to return to Florida. We told her that would happen once she spent any time around you, but she had to find out for herself. Like everyone else in the family, she thinks you are a "clone".

And speaking of family, you have sure worked your way into your brother's hearts. At first, Jeremy, who has been home all semester from college, thought you'd be a good "babe magnet", but then I think he got really attached to you, and vice versa! Sometimes when you won't eat your dinner Jeremy will come into the kitchen and you will eat for him. You call both of your brothers "Bubba" and spend a lot of time going to their bedroom to see if they are there and saying "Bub-BA!" Since Jeremy has gone back to college we can tell you have really missed him. On his most recent visit home (to do laundry) he actually preferred to stay home and baby sit you so I guess you've grown on him as well. Lucas of course still lives at home so you see him almost every day but that doesn't stop the two of you from chasing each other through the living room. Luke will stomp his feet and say "I'm gonna' get you!". You will run like the wind with your little arms stretched out behind you and fall (on purpose) so "Bubba" can catch you and tickle you. We are SO lucky to have such a well-balanced family. I believe you actually add to the harmony and general well-being around this house. And you are so lucky to have TWO big brothers who will love you and watch out for you from now on for the rest of your life.

It has surely been a blessing this past year, watching you grow up a little each day. Getting smarter, bolder, funnier, and inquisitive. You are just now starting to test your boundries, like turing off the TV set with the remote as we tell you "Robert! NO!" Then you turn and look at us and start laughing as you walk off to some other delight. We have begun lashing all the kitchen cabinet doors together with rubber bands since you've been getting into EVERYTHING lately! And you are learning from everything that surrounds you. You actually watch television now, when the TeleTubbies come on PBS you are totally enthralled with it. Sometimes you even take a Cheerio and offer it to the TeleTubbies on the screen. You are starting to learn what "NO" means, and brother - - - you sure don't like it!! But that's too bad, because Mommy and I are determined to teach you right from wrong (even if it means we are the "bad guys" once in a while). When one of us gets strict with you, you run off to the other one for consolation. Then, while being held by the "good parent" you will look defiantly over to the "bad parent" to make sure we have noticed that you are getting proper sugar. The looks you can convey! You are definitely wise beyond your year, my son! I can't wait for this next year to unfold and we can watch you learn something new each and every day. Your appetite for looking at pictures and reading increases each day and we will encourage that 100%. It's almost time to dig out all the old Disney movies so I can watch a new generation brought up on those fine old animations and wonderful stories and fables like "Dumbo", "Cinderella", and "Sleeping Beauty".

But the best part for me is that for every day that you grow older, something inside of me gets a little younger! I LOVE YOU, My Son…………

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