With two houses not childproofed and with packing boxes half filled and pieces of furniture all over the place in house 1 and dust everywhere and a camping chair as the only thing to sit on in house 2, the option of inviting our families from Italy and from Wyoming and other babies to either house wasn't appealing. John wanted to do something intimate with the three of us, while I was thinking of arranging an outdoor playdate of some sort with other babies. We settled on a small dinner party with 3 babies William is often playing with and a couple of close friends. I could not find a restaurant with play area that would take reservations so I decided to arrange a swimming playdate and a marine Summershack party, the perfect theme for a true Bostonian. Tour de force to find a pirate ship table center piece, hats with whales and a couple of other decorations in marine theme. Then the right cake. Not the traditional Italian chocolate tartufo cake or the tart fruit I grew up with but a traditional American soft cream cheesecake with strawberries dipped into chocolate a baby cannot resist to. I should say cakes, the first one offered by William's nonno, the second one offered by William's tata, Pina, who cannot be persuaded not to bake a cake for William's first birthday.
I am now thinking that William is turning one in two days, only two small days, and he will no longer be that tiny "how many months is he?" baby I had yesterday but an inquisitive toddler who will be faster than me at figuring things out and at doing things. Blame it on his coming first birthday but I have started to get frightened. I have realized that William is changing every day in front of my eyes but that, at the same time, I cannot keep up with these changes. Not only I cannot remember when they first happen but, once they happen, I cannot even remember how different William was before these changes happened!
So here I am, frantically trying to remember and to describe in detail the changes he has gone through before they vanish from my memory. I remember thinking how exciting it was when William turned three months. That tiny baby with the alert expression but who was taking hours to drink a little amount of milk, all of a sudden, was smiling at us and was eating like a champ! And his skinny legs became a trophy to show the lactation consultants in Boston. In his fifth month the little man proved that he could fall asleep without crying and could eat something other than milk. It took another two months, and the secret of Parmesan cheese, for him to abandon his disgusted face and open his mouth wide at the sight of mashed peas. Next came sitting, clapping and the hours of careful examination of everything on which he lays his stubby fingers. He then started learning about mobility, and the world that it opens up (latest: using the computer keyboard!).
But what changed in William in the last few days? First, he started saying more sounds, perhaps words: from mamma, papa' and da-da to ta ta, nanna and gatta! Ans his babbling has become more meaningful. When he says "Brrrrr" I think he means "I am playing", when he says "aglie' aglie' aglie'", I think he means "I am really excited", when he says "Da-da, da-da", I am nearly sure he means "I am talking, I am a happy baby". Unfortunately when he says "mamma", it is not always easy to understand what he means. At times, especially few months ago, most of the time he was saying "mamma" with an angry or annoyed tone of voice. That was not happening with da-da. So it was easy to jump to the conclusion that he was saying "mamma" meaning "go to hell". I then moved to the interpretation that when he says the angry "mamma" he is asking for help and this usually happens when he is frustrated. More recently, William has started saying a sweet version of "mamma", which I interpret as some sort of "thanks, I am ok mommy".
William has also started to imitate us, luckily only the good things: the clapping, nodding of the head, dancing and the sounds we make to him. In particular, he has mastered the production of the cheeky sounds "aha', aha', aha' " I often make to him, meaning "oh, oh, I've got you!" - Now, when William says "aha', aha, aha', aha, aha'", I think he means: "see what I have done? I have figured this out!" So, in the last few days he said: (1) "aha', aha', I managed to open and shut one of the two draws in your living room", (2) "aha', aha', I managed to switch off the music of your stereo!, (3) "aha', aha', I switched on the music, I did it!, (4) "aha', aha', I figured out how to open and shut the cabinet where you hide my toys!, (5) "aha', aha', I just removed the tape that you put around the box for your house move, (6), "aha', aha', I opened the Velcro strap on the beach shoes you just bought me, (7), "aha', aha', I disconnected your laptop!
He has also started to use his gestures to convey his wants. He always shakes his head when he is done with his meal. When he doesn't like it, he still takes a little like a good boy, but with an expression of disgust. He then shakes his head to refuse more.
As a one year old William is: smart (furbo), moooolto furbo - I will stick to Italian for this paragraph because it comes better to me - William e' dolce e mammone. Curioso, biricchino e pacioccone. Sorride incantato alla vista degli altri mettendosi tutti, cosi' facendo, dalla sua parte. Fa finta di piangere per attirare l'attenzione. E ci riesce bene. Una faccia tosta, quando ci sono io ad osservarlo non ha voglia di gattonare, ne' di allungare le braccia per afferrare qualcosa, preferisce dire "mammaaa, mammaa" (con tono frustrato), in attesa che io mi sciolga e lo prenda in braccio. Quando gli metto in mano i gessetti per fare un disegno se li ciuccia e poi li getta via. Quando non lo guardo, si muove, rotolando e girando come un elicottero in cerca di un malvivente, va da un lato all'altro della stanza e con i gessetti, trasforma il tappetto del salotto in un opera d'arte!
In the last month or so he has changed from the quiet seated baby to rolling everywhere and pivoting in a circle (like a weather vane) on his tummy. He has figured that by doing that he can better explore the corners of the room. He can play with cables, with the remote control, with mommy's cell phone and with unpleasant things (even a dirty diaper which happened to have fallen behind the trash can!). It is incredible. I used to leave him in one position on the floor and would always find him in that same position. Then, two weeks ago, the magic: after placing him in the center of the living room area I would find him 10 minutes later playing with one leg of the table in the dining area of the room. And, each time, I would ask myself if I was really sure William was not there when I left him. Could it be that I am getting old and I forget this sort of things?
Finally yesterday, the latest big milestone. I had gone through extensive repetitive fingerfood trials using the ubiquitous organic Puffs (called Cheerios by the moms), colorful veggies, exotic fruit, etc. I was getting used to the idea that William will always depend on me when it comes to putting food in his mouth, when two small pieces of "parma cotto" landed on his tray and he snapped them up! William grabbed the pieces and stuffed them both in his mouth, with both hands ready for more.
The same magic happened with tiny slices of high quality raw English farmhouse cheddar that I put on his tray. I tried with less tasty American cheese - it did not work. My little man is not only a talker, a comedian and a mover but he is also a true "buongustaio" (gourmand). The other food was not to his standard.