For some reason, the fact that I am about to have a 1-year-old is taking some work to sink in on my part. When H. was this age, she was walking. That's what all her energy went into from about 10.5 months on. By the time she turned 11 months old, she loved walking so much, she wouldn't even crawl when it was the only way to get through a space! When K. was this age, she was communicating. She picked up on baby signs early and fast, and by 11 months she was saying lots of words, too. She was taking steps by her first birthday, but she just didn't seem to have any drive to walk. It was easier to crawl. I figured she'd put all the energy into communicating that H. had into walking.
L. L., however, hasn't done either of those things. She does some baby signs, she says, "Pa-pa"... sometimes, and a few other "words." She has stood up a couple of times unsupported, but doesn't seem interested in walking at all, not even holding on to someone's hands. So I just kept thinking of her as a baby in the 9-month-old sort of stage, and was surprised to realize the other day that we had less than a month until her 1st birthday. Tonight I was spending a little quality time with her (while we stayed home from vespers because she's sick with a highly contagious virus), and I realized what I've missed by being so busy that I don't often pay attention to her for more than a few minutes at a time: her one focus in life right now is to figure out how to climb up everything she can see, and once she does that, she wants to climb back down. This child is a climber!
I realized that she loved to climb stairs, and that her love for doing so made it difficult to be anywhere near the ambo at church. And I noticed, of course, that her love of climbing has resulted in not a few spills and falls. Boy, do they make her mad! We had to remove the ladder to H.'s bunk bed because L. L. kept climbing up it and falling off backwards. We have to fold up or tuck away any step stools we use because she climbs those, too. I've noticed, more out of the corner of my attention than anything, that she can climb onto our coffee table and back off again. But what I missed was her drive, her determination. She is driven to conquer the next plateau - to climb up it and back down again - until she can do it perfectly. And if things don't go as she thinks they should - something shifts, she loses her balance, something hurts - she will let you know quite loudly that this is unacceptable.
So I sat on the floor tonight and helped my 11-month-old climb onto our living room armchair. When she slipped on her way up once and landed on her rear, I didn't let her sit there and cry. I helped her back up and told her to try again. I told her she could do it. It felt much more like a conversation with a toddler than a baby, which makes me proud of her but also a little sad to see the purely baby-ness go. Then she grinned her gigantic grin at me, and I thought of how, just when I think it couldn't get any cuter, it does with each new tooth. And I was excited to think of all the joys there are to come in her little life. So here's to many more months, L. L.!