Oh, my dear, sweet Joel. You're becoming such a character. Smiling your four-toothed grin. Playing bashful with the grocery store clerks. Growling in your crib as you work your way to dreamland.
It's almost impossible to write about you without taking a trip through the sugary forest, followed by a boat ride over Saccharine Falls. You're my baby. You're squishy and soft and cuddly and I could truly sit in a warm patch of sunlight and smell your sweet little head all day long.
Not that you would let me. You have plans and missions. There are stairs to climb and dishwashers to empty. Not to mention toilet rolls that need unfurling and potted plants with entirely too much soil.
You took your first drunken-sailor steps in North Carolina, which were exciting, but a bit terrifying. Everybody said, "Oh, it's on now!" when they learned of this new milestone. They're right. With your insatiable curiosity, it's only a matter of time before I'll find you resting comfortably on top of the refrigerator or hanging onto the ceiling fan with your four teeth.
Presently, most of your walking involves your pushing toy, when we can keep your brother's mitts off it. If it's not the toy, it's your mommy, hunched over, holding your hand as you lurch your way to independence.
Everybody calls you a happy baby, which you are. Everybody says that you are a cute little tater tot, which you are. The world is a better, kinder place when you're in it.
Your mother's a Lutheran at heart, so I take comfort in ritual and tradition. As a child, the Benediction was significant to me because it signed that church was finally over.
But now, with the lights dimmed and your soft blond head snuggling into my shoulder, I whisper:
"May the Lord bless and keep you.
May the Lord make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you.
May the Lord look upon you with favor,
And give you peace."
My dear, sweet, Joel, may you walk in light and love forever.