Hmmm, to describe that one must consider the one year old. Since I have had four, I consider myself a near expert and can promise you that no two are alike. Adorable, sweet, spiteful, indignant, ferocious, charming, hysterical, draining, and independent are words that come to mind when I ponder the four year one year olds that my husband and I have rather unsuccessfully tried to raise.
All my education and experience equaled chump change when it came time for the real rodeo, the art of parenting. I discovered rather quickly it was less artful and more fun and games, a contest to see who could outsmart whom and quickly ward off danger zones that could incite the most violent of tantrums, like an empty donut bag or a seemingly inviting pool (though December). Yes, I have survived the four people I claim as my children and by age one, their personalities were distinct and rather set in stone, a real glimpse of the children they were becoming and the adults they would be on the horizon.
My oldest son Thomas was the toughest one year old and that must be why I have few pictures of him. The days before camera phones and I am sure I was too busy pumping milk, repeatedly taking pregnancy tests (it couldn't be right), and promoting a learned environment. Yes, he ate salads, brunswick stew, pimento cheese and avocados. I was the perfect mother. And then baby number two came along and my one year old Thomas became a big brother.
My next son, Russell, learned early on to entertain himself. I was probably still trying to untangle myself from the first child and so, Russell played contentedly with trains for hours, caught insects, and pushed his cars in his baby doll stroller. Don't forget I was trained in child development and at that point, still committed to providing a gender neutral childhood. Russell was the most endearing one year old you could have, sweet, loving until his baby sister came along and my one year old Russell became a big brother. Poor Russell, from day one he carefully monitored her movements, though most often lurking behind the bouncy seat. They are two peas in a pod, my peanut butter and jelly, and love to hate one another.
My only daughter, Blair, was a force to be reckoned with by age one. She spoke in complete sentences well before her second birthday and on Sundays at church, she would gleefully recognize her favorite teenagers on various pews and yell out, "Dere's Kate! Dere's William!" and it could go on forever. That was her first taste of recognition for being loud and silly and so her personality grew to expand this trait and she is still such a jokester. She was one year old but not yet walking and would carefully wait for two year old Russell to relinquish his paci so that he could scarf down some nearby snack.
As soon as it was placed down near him, she moved in stealthily and then was off, crawling like an army man on a mission, the paci clenched in one tight baby hand and the squeals of laughter would begin when she heard him on the rampage seeking the stolen accoutrement. Her punishment involved a smack from him enough that her first curse word, at age one, was "Wussell!!!!". It was used even if he was nowhere in the vicinity and she stubbed her toe. His very name a source of retribution for the wars that she usually started. She remains a hoot today at age six.
Number four, Amos, came along when Blair was four and had lost all hope of ever being a big sister. While we were shocked, we were excited about our newest addition and along he came though his entry into our lives was not as script like as the others, particularly at age one. So far all my children had vastly different demeanors and interests, but all followed a fairly predictable path of development, early talkers and slow walkers. Amos though was different, the odd man out in a sea of children. Slow to smile and sit up and he did not learn to crawl until a few months after his first birthday. He learned to walk at age one too, though he was two months shy of two. How we rejoiced! We had a darling tow-headed bespectacled boy and his endearing spirit, infectious smile, and abundant joy were apparent to all he encountered in our small NC town. This one year old was different and yet, he grew and gained abilities and we cheered.
That is the synopsis of my one year olds, all four of them, unique and spirited in their own ways, bound together by time well-spent and strong genetic traits. I am surprised at my own fondness in remembering the good and the bad and what comes to the surface is that life is a mystery, a puzzle. We try to fit the pieces together the best we can, but sometimes the box is a missing a few and some seem to be the wrong shape or in the wrong place. If perfect is so wonderful, then I choose a life of Impressionism.