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25th January 2011

What a year looks like.

The small boy is one.

That's right, we've kept a baby alive a whole year.

It's also true that we've been parents a whole year. The small boy was delighted with the cards (they're like tiny books), presents (paper to shred!!!) and the tiny amount of lemon cupcake we allowed him (MORE!), but it really feels more significant for the big people. A little over a year ago we went from being a couple to part of a family. We became parents. Our parents became grandparents for the first time. Things changed.

A year ago he was The Demanding Little Stranger. We loved him, but in a raw way - we loved him because he was without really knowing very much about him. His main form of communication with us was crying and we were left to interpret whether the wails meant "Big People - doom, terrible things!" or "Big people - do something interesting - I'm bored." or "Where the hell is my next meal and who pooped in my pants?". We were delighted to have him, but also exhausted, puzzled, curious and nervous - all at once. We took the tags off the baby and decided to keep him anyway.

And over a year, the new becomes familiar and familial.

A year ago we knew he hated having his diaper changed because he would howl like we were torturing a baby. Now he looks us in the eye, shakes his head no in a firm and determined way and then scurries off as fast as he can. Both my parents and My Tender Beast's parents report that we were determined and stubborn small people. Apparently the universe has a sense of humour.

A year ago all he ate was me, and now he eats everything. He wants exactly what his big people have, and at meals he scans the table to make sure he has some of everything on our plates. He seems particularly partial to peas and pomegranate seeds, he loves fondue, really wants your white wine, and would rather have carbonated water than flat water thank you very much. He prefers to feed himself, and wants to hold the chopsticks/fork/spoon/knife. He eats whole meals now, and frankly surprising amounts for one so small.

A year ago, you could leave him sleeping on a bed, surrounded by pillows and trust that he would be where you left him when you come back. Now if you leave him sleeping on a bed, he is likely to get himself up, slide off the bed and quietly head off to see what he can find. We were unable to teach him not to lunge off things, and so instead worked on teaching him to go feet first, and he does, holding on to whatever he can grab to lower himself to the floor. He's loved and grown out of a floor gym, a jumperoo, and an exersaucer. He climbs stairs, climbs ladders, climbs drawers, climbs on chairs, climbs on couches, climbs on shelves, climbs, climbs climbs.

At the very beginning we got a co-sleeper, a bin thing a baby can sleep in on a bed and be safe from rolling off or being rolled on, but our giant 23 inch baby didn't fit it for more than a couple of weeks. He's slept in a swing, in a car seat, on hotel beds, on chairs turned against the wall, in a pack-and-play, in a crib, in our bed and on his people. He's quite clear that he prefers to sleep with the people he loves, all snuggled up. He is the snuggiliest baby I know.

His favorite book is Sandra Boynton's Dogs: A barking and counting book. Some times I read it to him, and sometimes he reads it to me, barking as he turns the pages. His favorite toy is a stuffed bug jar that comes with four little critters although anything noisy is also pretty popular. His favorite song is Feist's 1-2-3-4, this version:

My Tender Beast jokes that he is "a baby who fits our lifestyle", and it's true. He is a happy cheerful fellow, willing to go anywhere, who loves meeting new people. He knows how to work a conference like a pro - which makes sense - he was 26 days old when he attended his first conference, and by my account attended has attended 12 conferences in his first year. He'll last about 45 minutes in a highchair in a restaurant. He likes anyone who will smile at him, from pretty young women, to big bearded and inked up guys and everyone in between. But we have also rearranged our lives; every room in our house has baby things in it these days, we go to bed earlier, plan for nap times, pack diapers, a sippy cup and snacks, we assess spaces for baby hazards, we do way more laundry, we go to queer parent drop-ins, we stay in more, we're parents.

He waves goodbye, he zerberts people he likes, he laughs often and smiles more. He claps spontaneously and waves his hands in deaf applause at every opportunity. He is full of joy.

We fell in love. We like him best among babies, and he likes us best among big people, which is as it should be. It's been a year and we're keeping him

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