Dear Monkey,

This weekend you turned 30 months old. Two and a half years. You will happily say, “Two!” when asked how old you are. Or if you see a numeral two. Or if you are given two crackers. You seem to have a favorite number, in fact, because there are times when you walk around, softly chanting “two” to yourself, and I don’t know if you’re looking around to find pairs of things or just talking to yourself or maybe counting the number of oxygen atoms in a molecule.

I took you to the grocery store with me today. At first you happily rode in the basket of the cart (not the child-safe seat I could buckle you into, no, Gran-Gran let you ride in the basket one time and ever since then nothing else will do), but then I started putting food in there with you. The injustice was simply too much, especially when I wouldn’t let you choose which foods could ride in there and which foods had to ride in the child seat with my purse. So I helped you climb out so you could walk, and then you pointed into the basket to show me what you wanted out of there. A head of garlic. I thought I could let you carry it, but no, once you had it you held it up to me and showed me you wanted me to peel it. A whole head of raw garlic, and you wanted to peel and eat it.

A few nights ago, I got home late, and we couldn’t take our walk until after dark. You weren’t ready to go home when I was, and when I unbuckled you from the stroller you ran around to the side of the house, where none of the ambient lights in the neighborhood shine directly. And when I caught up with you there, I don’t know if you were admiring the stars, or if you were trying to distract me from taking you inside, but that was a very special moment we shared, with me kneeling on the ground and you leaning against me and pointing to show me star after star. Moments like that are a part of what makes it worth having moved with you away from Big City, where the stars were never visible.

You’re easily the sweetest child I’ve ever known, wanting to share a toy with everyone you meet. Your hugs are outstanding: the cats would disagree, but what do they know? I, unlike our feline companions, am an experienced connoisseur of hugs, and I can state definitively that there is no hug better than the one you give me when you come up behind me, climb on my back, and hug me around the neck. I carry you around that way, and the love I feel almost suffocates me. (That, and the weight of a large toddler hanging from my throat. But mostly the love.)

You’ve been talking more and more this month, and while you’re still nowhere near the level of speech that would be considered normal for a child your age, you’re certainly communicating better. Your plaintive “I wanna go!” when Gran-Gran shut the door after you wrestled it open for the third time after we came in from looking at the stars tore at my heart. Your delighted, “Ha!” whenever something is just the way you want it is a pleasure like no other, akin to the joy I felt earlier this month when you told me you loved me for the first time.

And so, my darling boy, to you and of you I say: Ha!