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Seventeen Months

Dear Persephone,

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.

Colander Head

Of course I have to add a few hundred words of my own.

You’ve been growing so fast that sometimes it seems like one can see changes on an hourly basis. I don’t mean physical growth — you’re still tiny, only around 21 lbs. — but rather your mental development. I think you’ve got about a dozen words in your vocabulary now, mostly beginning with the letter “b.”

Over the last month or two you have been out of daycare, but we’ve taken you in for a day or two here and there when your mother has pressing engagements. (For example today she’s moving books and equipment around at her new school.) Lately you’ve been getting more upset at the transition point, continuing a trend that began in late spring. You would cry sometimes when I said goodbye and left the room. More recently, you started crying when we entered the room together. The next time you started crying when we entered the building. After that the tears began to flow as we we approached the building from a block away.

And yet, your caregiver Summer pointed out that the period of time you cry after I leave has gotten shorter. As soon as I’m out the door, you adjust and are generally happy for the rest of the day. So it’s that transition point that’s difficult. Sometimes at home you will cry when I go downstairs to take out the garbage or some other chore, not realizing that I will be right back. And however much anxiety you have about my departures, double that for your mother.

There have been some truly horrific stories in the local news involving little children. A baby was found dead in her crib in Westwego, covered in rat bites. She was three months old. A toddler your age ingested a quantity of cocaine and amphetamines in Terrytown. That child appears to be okay, but it’s the second case in the last month in which parents were arrested after their babies ate coke. I’m sure even if I wasn’t a father I would have found these stories alarming, but all the more so since you’ve come into my life.

I had an interesting conversation with a faculty member here at the University about a program advertised on TV that promises to teach babies how to read. It appears to be yet another piece of the “baby genius” industry. I greatly value intelligence and hope you grow up super smart, but I won’t love you any less if that’s not the case, and I am surely not interested in pushing you. I’m generally staying away from these products that seem to capitalize on parental anxiety. My understanding of the human psyche and its development is that if we just give you opportunities and encouragement, you’ll pretty much develop on your own, automatically.

I do know it’s easiest to acquire a second language when you’re under the age of four. I wish they had some Spanish-speaking people at your daycare.

What else? Your sleep habits have deteriorated severely since our vacation. Those two weeks of chaos seem to have really thrown you off. At some point, eventually, I know you will sleep through the night. Your mother and I are looking forward to that.

By the way, seventeen is one of my favorite numbers. I expect this next months will be pretty exciting.

Published inLetters to PersephonePix


  1. Stephanie Stephanie

    Persephone’s photo is ravishing and your comments so poignant. My “boys” are 20 and 15 now, but their babyhoods are as fresh in my mind as if they were still little. I miss that time, so getting to read about Persephone is a real treat for me.

  2. Alice Alice

    Adorable photo.

    I think as she gets older, she will love to read your posts, and of course they will also be interesting for you and Christy to read.

    Glad you are staying away from baby genius industry products. What a joke and as you say, a capitalization on parental anxiety.

  3. Great photo. I can totally relate to the transition issue–I think with Evan it has been easier, mostly because I have learned that the tears stop pretty much as soon as I’m out of sight. I think–as with many things–it can be harder on the parents than the child.

  4. Carmen Carmen

    It feels funny responding to your letter to your daughter, but my magic method in teaching my son how to read was this: closed captioning. Between construction work (pre-Katrina) in my area and a moderate hearing loss in certain ranges due to an overly enthusiastic drummer in my misspent youth, I put on cc in order not to blast others with the tv volume. By three, my son was reading signs as we drove or went about our errands. I recall the day he said “Do Not Climb Tree” and I just stared at him in disbelief. He was also very attracted to car logos: the first tv ads he noticed were of cars because of the (mostly) classical music playing in the background of the sales pitches.

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