300 days of exhaustion, worry, and great, great joy
My Darling Baobao,
As I start this letter, now nearly 14 hours past your 300th birth day, I don’t know whether acknowledging that anniversary is a Chinese thing or just something your mother has made of her natal culture’s celebration of the 100th day anniversary of a birth. Whatever the case, we have paid attention to it, being human, and taking pleasure in round numbers.
300 days. 66 days shy of a full year*. It’s the damnedest thing, but sometimes something completely ordinary, utterly predictable — like the birth and subsequent development of a child, of you in particular — can seem like a miracle.
(And now it is the afternoon of Tuesday the 16th, approaching the hour of your 302 birth day. Time flies when you’re a papa, but getting even this sort of letter written can seem awfully hard. And, as I type now, you are howling in the cage behind me — wait, you’ve stopped. No, you’ve started again. No, you’ve stopped. Oh hell, I digress. And you’re crying again. Onwards.)
But there we are: you are my little miracle. (Almost) 10 months ago, a helpless, often squalling producer of pee and poo and mucus; today, a tiny person, with likes and (a few) dislikes, goals (you do love to knock things over and heaven forbid that I dare to rest my head on one of your toys when I venture into your playpen!), and a rapidly evolving sense of humour.
I am grateful that you seem to be a cautious, but not a timid, person. You take new things slow, but you do try them. Last week I twice gave you a taste of my supper. The first was a bit of little spicy, and I don’t think you really liked it, but you chewed it and swallowed it and simply didn’t ask for more.
And this week, we’ve taken our walks to a new level: swings!
As with a new food, you looked … thoughtful, when I sat you in the kiddie swing at a nearby park, but you didn’t seem fearful, nor did you complain. You just looked around, as if analyzing this new sensation with calm, cool and collected sang froid. And it wasn’t long at all before you smiled and grinned, though you never acted as if it was the most exciting thing you’d ever done.
Which is fine by me; as I recall, I got bored of swings fairly quickly myself — possibly because I was too
chicken-shit cautious to get moving too fast and too high, or to jump off when that plank was heading back up at full speed.
May you forever be willing to try the new, but also, take things slow and (metaphorically as well as literally) always look both ways before crossing the street!
Ottawa, June 14 – June 17, 2020
* Yeah, yeah, yeah; it just so happens that 2020 was a leap year, smart-ass!