You’re nearly six months now. In baby years, this means you should be responsibly independent with a 401K and car insurance, eating fanciful morsels for dinner like sushi and tapas and other two-syllable cuisines that well-adjusted adults are Instagramming every night. I feel your age (or is it my age?). The gray hairs are coming and my joints sometimes hurt in the morning and I’m slowly realizing that with every day you grow bigger and taller and smarter, I’m doing the same. We’re growing up, Bee – you and I. And it’s happening fast.
I can now comfortably predict what your face will look like as an angsty teenager, because it’s precisely the same face you make when you try to sit up by yourself. Your upper lip curls into a wildly unfortunate manner and your eyebrows tower low, as if you’re in the middle of a career-changing negotiation with your abdominal muscles. It’s the face your great-grandmother Marge made when she tasted garlic, and the face I make when I realize I have no more clean socks. And the world stands still with this terribly unhappy expression in your eyes until suddenly, you pop up, winning the Great Ab Settlement and we all begin to cheer. And then that face is gone, sure to return when your father refuses to buy you a cell phone when you turn 13.
You can stand by yourself now, and we like to play a party trick called “Handlebars” that makes the grandparents laugh and makes everyone else wonder why your parents waste their days thinking of mindless activities for their infant. We’ll give you a live recap someday, but for posterity sake, “Handlebars” is where we make a bull sign with our hands and you reach up to grab both fingers and pull yourself up into a standing position, just like that. And then you let go and fall and we laugh and laugh and laugh. Because Bee, we laugh at everything you do.
This week, you’ve transformed into a gorilla, which is incredibly beneficial because gorillas happen to be enormously cute to me. You chew on your feet often, making short and calculated grunting noises until the seams begin to wear from your footed pajamas. (Later, you’ll flick your toes repeatedly on the underside of your chair until you rip holes into approximately three different pairs of footed pajamas. It’s an expensive hobby, but one I don’t mind because this just means you have tiny toes peeking out of your clothes, like a reverse Hobo glove or a peeled banana. It’s endlessly charming, Bee.)
Teething isn’t as much of a nightmare as it was in weeks past, and I like to think it’s because you’re strong and adaptive and can cut teeth like Chuck Norris, but I think it’s simply because you’re distracted with learning new things. Speaking of new things, there’s this weird area on top of your head that moves up and down, like a marine animal gill that’s breathing underwater. I had to Google it because I momentarily feared your skull had been replaced by an alien-invaded circus peanut (your father and I have been watching weird sci-fi TV shows lately, obviously), but it turns out it’s just a soft spot where we can see your pulse. Still, it’s bizarre and continually reminds me that the human body is mind-boggling in every way.
But what boggles my mind even more is how much this all feels like a family. There’s more clutter in the house and more tears to wipe away and more mistakes to make and it all feels so very real. Like our pre-Bee days were a dress rehearsal and now the show is here and we’re all bustling backstage to ready ourselves for tonight’s performance. And it’s fast-paced and scary and your costume is torn and I’ve forgotten my lines, but then the curtain is lifted and the spotlight appears and we dance and sing and live in the moment until the curtain falls once again. It’s an adrenaline rush, raising you, with ups and downs and monologues and intermissions. But day after day, the show goes on. The curtain is lifted each morning, and it falls each night. And although some shows gain more claps and others more tears, it’s still our show. It’s yours and mine and your father’s and everyone we love is watching (a few from heaven’s balcony) and cheering and hoping and praying.
And I know we won’t always get rave reviews, Bee. But the curtain will still rise. And then fall.
And then rise again.