Almost exactly three weeks after you hit your six-month mark, you figure out the proper combination of arm and leg movement, palm and knee placement, to begin traveling across the earth on your own power.
A week after that, I have my first real, honest-to-goodness nightmare about something horrific and deadly happening to you, a nightmare that wrenches away the title of Worst Ever from whatever minor monstrosity had ravaged my subconscious up until then.
Today you have been alive for approximately as long as you were incubating within your mother; you remain full of smiles and curiosity and have added things like preferences and desire. You are standing with the support of furniture, and attempting to climb; you are taking your toys apart and in rare instances putting them back together. It becomes increasingly difficult to recall what you were like when you could barely do much besides the most basic functions of a complete living thing.
And I, for my part, have taken on new levels of fear and awareness–your rapidly improving ability to move in the world has given me new perspectives on the many ways the world will attempt to harm you. Part of this is your own lack of balance, your overdeveloped sense of adventure and your near non-existent sense of self-preservation. I recognize this as something you received from both your mother and I. I spent many years of my childhood scaling trees that dwarfed the houses nearby and I fell from these trees on more than one occasion, although fortunately never from any height that proved debilitating or fatal. I remember the effort to bike over to the top of the winding, treacherous hill on Stonewall Avenue in order to zip down it at breakneck speed but forget how fortunate I was to never have broken my neck. Your uncanny knack for finding and speeding towards the most dangerous part of any room feels familiar, and amusing, and terrifying, and I’m both proud that you have daring and sorry that you received it.
Part of it is knowing that the world is full of wonderment but that one of the things you’ll wonder is just how such a beautiful world can be so cold and cruel.
I’m a bit ashamed to admit that it seems to have taken me a ridiculous amount of time to internalize the complete scope of what you are and what you mean. I’ve been writing you these letters every three months as if somehow you’ll hit a year old and the hard part will be over. I haven’t truly believed that. In my heart, I know that I’ve never been that naive. I did comprehend that some things would get easier, to the point of vanishing entirely, while other things would appear and get harder.
What was never quite in focus, until recently, was the idea that things were going to appear and become easier and harder for you as an individual, having to deal with some things on your own. I’ve been preparing myself to handle the challenges of what will happen when you begin walking, and talking, and everything after, without recalling that these will be your challenges as well.
I love you dearly, and all love is blended with irrationality. I’ll continue working on the balance between my love and my blindness.
For now, you should continue working on the balance of your body relative to the floor.
Love, obviously, Dad.