Not long ago, Peeper came home from gymnastics. She ran into the bedroom, where I was changing Kiwi’s diaper.
“We learned frog jumps!” Peeper exclaimed—and began bouncing up and down, landing with her hands between her feet.
Kiwi squealed. She rolled over. Coming up to her knees, she started to bounce, too.
The two sisters laughed and jumped like frogs and laughed some more, all the while watching each other.
That little scene perfectly shows the core of Kiwi’s personality—her exuberance. She is so in love with life.
Memorizing baby smiles
At 12 months, the long days of a crying mom and infant so long ago; this cheerful, grinning one-year-old has replaced that newborn with red-rimmed eyes and a hoarse voice. Yes, she still fusses, but Kiwi’s default setting is happy.
I have memorized her 1-year-old smile because I see it so often—and because I know it is changing. Soon enough, her other top teeth will come in, and gone will be her lopsided grin.
She smiles when she looks at me as she nurses.
She smiles when Dad comes home, when Nana arrives and when she sees Big Sister.
She smiles when she blows raspberries—and grins even bigger when Peeper joins in.
She smiles when she stands by herself and takes ever-more-confident steps forward.
A 12 month old’s strong will
Kiwi is joyful, but she’s still very much her own person.
Her stubborn streak will serve her well as she becomes a persistent, dedicated, outspoken leader, as I’m pretty sure she’ll be. But for now, that strong will sometimes threatens to break me.
Take, for example, the three days I went out of town recently. She refused to drink the breast milk I left behind: not from a bottle, not from a sippy, not from a cup. (This is starting to sound like Green Eggs and Ham, don’t you think?)
And now that I/my boobs are back, she refuses to eat just about anything other than plain yogurt. (Don’t get any ideas about mixing anything in there, either. She’ll spit it out if you contaminate her Nancy’s with oatmeal or fruit.)
Introducing other foods—even the ones that should be an insta-hit, like puffs or applesauce—is usually a losing battle. All the dropped food means Finn, our uber allergic dog, is a little rounder and a lot itchier. It also means the carpet around the kitchen table resembles a Jackson Pollock painting.
Following my baby
Despite the frustrations, I feel overwhelmingly grateful to witness her emerging personality. She has thoughts, preferences, dislikes all her own.
Kiwi can walk—she took her first solo steps the day before her big sister’s birthday—but she often prefers to hold onto my finger as she moseys around.
But she’s in control. She walks where she wants and pulls me along. She is guiding me.
As she turns one year old, we’ll be doing a lot more of that: Her leading the way and me, following along with my steps and my heart, giving the gentlest of support.
Happy first birthday, Kiwi.