Nate. Nate. Nate. Nathaniel. I dreamily say his name over and over in my head as I fall asleep. He reached 10 months yesterday and I can't believe how quickly his tiny big feet became just big feet. I have never felt so connected to a single human being.
He has a sense of humour. A real taste for funniness. He plays games with us that he creates on his own. As I feed him with the White Hot spoon, he will clamp his teeth down and make it impossible for me to tug it free. And he will look into my eyes and laugh because he has stumped me. He will chase the cat until she has nowhere to go but behind his bedroom door, and he will open the door to peek at her, then close it shut to hide her away, then erupt into giggles when he opens it again to find her sitting there, staring blankly at him.
He thinks it's funny when Tante, normally quite reserved, takes his plush dog toy and slowly drags it across the floor, suddenly unleashing it on his neck with a loud growl. Unlike his mother, he finds Fear funny. Any situation that is slightly dodgy or startling will cause him to erupt into full belly laughs, so long as he's with someone safe. He's in love with his only first cousin and will try anything she asks him to. He wants to impress her badly. When he sees his Ya-ya or his Gram-gram, it's as though he's aware that these women are an extension of his parents. Aware that the nurturing he feels from Mommy and Dada was grown in their patient hands. And I am never afraid to leave him with either of them, because they love him as though they bore him themselves.
The gargantuan grin Nate grows when his father walks into a room makes me completely sure that I married the right man. It makes me fall deeper in love with my partner to see how dedicated he is to his family and how much his wee son loves him in return. The look in Natey's eyes when Jan appears wearing the Baby Bjorn says, "Yes! Outdoors Dad. Take me on an adventure. Teach me about your world." Nate's squeals when his father pretends to chase him on all fours are more delightful than any music I have ever heard.
Nathaniel is mischevious. He will do what he knows not to in order to get your attention. He pretends to choke in his high chair if you turn your back to mix cereal or check emails while he sits there, trying to impress you with the way he shoves food into his mouth. If a drop of formula or water is spilled, he immediately plunges his hand in and spreads the fluid around, like he is finger-painting. He climbs up the stairs when he thinks I am not looking and then looks over his shoulder to make sure he catches my eye. "Stop playing on the computer Mommy," he's trying to say. "Let's go up to my room and party with the Alphabet Blocks!"
He is musical, shaking his bottle, plashing in the cat's water bowl, tapping a toy on the stainless steel garbage can, just to hear the sound it makes. His body thrashes with glee if we play Kanye or JT or Beyonce and have what can only be described as a family rave. Itsy-Bitsy Spider can turn a frown upside down in a fetal heartbeat. He has even begun twisting his little hands at the wrist in a "so-so" fashion when we sing it. He sings all day in his unintelligible babble. He babbles along when I sing the Alphabet song.
If you put your forehead to his, Nate will rub his whole face into yours and sometimes attempt a kiss. He will hold Tante's hands while she watches The Backyardigans with him (an addiction she is fostering, against my better wishes). When we have a sleepover with Tante, he will slap our chunky middle-eastern thighs with a joy that makes me hope he always has a love for women with some meat on the bone. He will kiss Gram-gram on the mouth. He will climb up Grandpa Tony's torso and face until there is nowhere to go. Nate will sit comfortably in the crook of his Dede's arm, just as he did back when he was still immobile. He will try to pet the cat gently -- after months of my insistence -- until he gets so excited he just pats her hard and repeatedly like a drum. He will push Scout to the floor trying to stand up using her back (I also try to discourage this).
He has the biggest eyes I have ever seen, framed by eyelashes that often cause strangers to think he's a girl. His entire face changes with a smile, as his Norwegian cheekbones form perfect apples on either side of that adoreably strong nose. The nose we saw at 12 weeks in the ultrasound photo. Two more shiny teeth rounding it up to six in total, and two more on the way, he now has a people smile. He bites me and leaves teeth marks, but I will take it, because the thought of not sharing that closeness with him makes me want to cry.
When he sees Goodnight Moon, he crawls over to the rocking chair and climbs to standing using my knees. We rock and read and he attempts to turn the pages and just when I get to the part, "And a quiet old lady who was whispering "hush"" Nate leans back into my arms to feed as I continue saying goodnight to the room and the moon and everything else in the book. I know it by heart. Then I sing him a lullaby that I made up in Armenian, and maybe a couple other songs that aren't lullabies (some Mamas and the Papas, a little Lauryn Hill, an occasional James Taylor or Elton John) but songs that have sentiments that translate (un-creepily) from mother to child. Then I tell him to sleep well so we can have an even better day tomorrow. He always falls asleep at the boob and then rolls into the crib on his side or onto his tummy (bum in the air), sucking his thumb until he is in deep slumber. "Good night sweet prince," I whisper as I close the door.
(Yes, I'm aware that Hamlet ended badly.)
Tonight I got to watch him fall asleep for what felt like the first time. Tonight he was full or restless and would not settle down at the breast. So I put him in his crib, drowsy but awake. I put a stuffed toy beside him for snuggling, and then stroked his head while his eyes fluttered, fighting sleep. He lay on his back, smiling and slowly gave into the slumber. And it was the most beautiful moment I think I've ever had. Save maybe the first time we ever locked eyes.
How can there be wars and abuse and pain and evil in the world when there is this? This giant LOVE that I believe can spread out over the globe and heal all the hurts. Because it is healing mine.