DEAR ELLIOT.

Oh, Elliot.

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There was a time when I was so used to communicating with you through sign language and grunts and facial expressions that I couldn’t imagine that one day we would communicate with words. I knew just how close to sleep you were by how many circles you rubbed into your eyes with your fists. I knew that I only had 2.5 minutes to make your morning oatmeal before your rumbling belly got the best of you and triggered the tears of a hungry, grumpy baby. I knew to leave you alone when you ventured off for one of your crawling marathons; you’ve always been the independent one.

Now you are two and we communicate with words. You love your sleep and oftentimes you are the one reminding me that it is nap time, but I am the one that has to remind you that you’re hungry and that it’s time to eat. When you are done with a meal or a snack, you are done and must be retrieved from your high chair immediately in order to avoid a first-class meltdown, but if said meltdown does occur, in the middle of it, I ask you if you need a hug and it never fails to stop your crying and reconcile us to each other again. Your heart is so tender and your emotions are so big. My most earnest prayer these days is that I would have the greatest facility in helping you navigate them because I know what it’s like to have strong feelings shut down. I want you to feel all that you feel and feel it well.

You love movies. Our regular rotation lately is Toy Story 2, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Aristocats. I have spent plenty of time guilting myself about your “screen time,” but the Lord has shown me how these stories only fuel your imagination. You don’t zone out when you are watching them. You include me in the narration of what is happening and you mimic the characters’ reactions and five minutes later I find you in your room, reenacting with your plastic Buzz and Woody and it fills my heart to watch you create, still the independent one.

Most kids, especially toddlers, don’t know what to do with a guitar. You have held one properly since the moment you picked it up. You strum like a professional. You sing along. One day, you decided a guitar could be a violin too, and you used a drumstick as a bow while holding the end of the guitar up to your neck. Not long after that, you realized that if a guitar could be a violin, it certainly could be a cello, and you sat in a chair with the guitar between your knees, drumstick in hand. I think I might be raising a musical genius.

It is so interesting to see how differently you interact with different people. When Papa is home, you literally jump on him and attack him with swords and pull at his beard and destroy the house by setting up obstacles and blasting through them with your toy vacuum. When it is just you and me, you insist that I draw letters for you so that you can identify them, or that I let you read me all the books, or you sit very close to me with your little hand on my leg while we talk to Oscar about how fun it’s going to be when he can wrestle with you. You are such a gracious big brother. You find ways to entertain yourself when Oscar is nursing because you understand that that is Mama + Baby time. You try to share your toys with him by opening his little fisted hands. When Oscar tries to talk to you, you put your hand on his head and say “oh, yeah?!” over and over. I am so glad that you came first, Elliot. I am so glad that you came at all.

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Inspired by your auntie + my best mama friend.

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