Dear Sayla

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You are eighteen months old now. You are getting more hair, though it’s still not long enough for any sort of hair-do, still short enough that you are sometimes called a fella or buddy by strangers.

Your vocabulary is continuing to grow. Other than “papa,” the clearest word you say is “bye,” adding a wave of the hand. It’s strange to hear you speak an intelligible word in context. I coax you to say “mama,” but you just reply with “papa!” And as of last week, you now say “no!” At least it wasn’t your first word.

The other night you found a worn-out baby doll stroller in the neighbor’s yard. Clearly it was made for someone just your size to push around. You spent the evening power walking back and forth with it, your stout little body moving as fast as your feet could manage.

I’m often baffled by your size, that you’ve grown into hand-me-downs that once seemed so big, that you can reach on top of the counter for my cell phone, that you climb onto furniture unassisted. Yet signs of your infancy still remain: the flexing of your feet, curling of toes; your mouth rooting for a straw or piece of food; grabbing your feet for happy baby pose.

This afternoon I settled into the blue chair in your room to read books, our usual naptime routine. You folded forward—hands to the ground, purple dinosaur slippers on feet—and bear-crawled to me before climbing in my lap. Your little bottom sinks pefectly between my crossed legs, your blonde head resting just below my chin. I rub my cheek against your soft hair as you fumble with books and flip pages, and I savor. Please don’t grow up.

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