Your First Year, 2nd Edition

Dear Hedda.

You’ve miraculously made it 12 months, and it’s time to write this letter to you. Your sister got the same service, and to avoid any outcries when you’re old enough to understand English, I’m writing this for you, too. Of course I am. Just like with your birth story, also known as The Story With Too Much Information. Note, however, that you’re getting your open letter weeks before your older sister got hers.

We named you Hedda after one of the characters in the story A Day With the Animal Mechanics. Your sister demanded to read it every night before bedtime for four weeks straight, and so the name stuck with us1. A more English-sounding name probably would have been better, but you’ll be all right. There have been several famous Heddas through time. Even an asteroid.

You’ll always be compared to your sister. That’s the life of a second born. So it’s interesting to see how very, very different you are, and reading through the letter I wrote to your sister show just how much. The future with both of you will be a hoot, to put it that way.

To keep this open letter at a reasonable length, here are a few bullet points from your first year:

12 Months of Highlights

  • You absolutely love corn. Love it! Whenever it’s within reach, you grab as much as you can, and stuff it in your mouth. When you first discovered the existence of corn, we often had to dig it out of your mouth, since you forgot to chew and swallow, and just kept jamming it in.
  • You love a lot of things, actually. At least you point at them like a madman, and make the same sound as you make when you see corn. It’s a very distinctive sound, which I can’t quite put into writing since I never learned the phonetic alphabet. Here are a few of the things you love: Dogs, buses, kids (older once in particular), cats, going outside, trying new food, crawling up stairs, and the swing.
  • Your love of older kids will probably haunt you for most of your early childhood. Whenever your big sister runs along with her friends, you try your best to keep up with them. Right now, that’s pretty much impossible, and it will take a while before you’re up-to-speed, so to speak. And when that happens, it’s not guaranteed that your sister and her friends want to play with you either. So be prepared for rejection.
  • You’re not much of a talker yet. It’s mostly the sound mentioned above, and the occasional “mama”, “papa”, and “moh” (as in what the cow says). We’re also pretty sure you’re saying your name, and you’re also saying bye-bye. You better start talking soon if you’re going to make yourself heard. Your sister talks constantly, and the same goes for pretty much everyone on your mother’s side of the family.
  • You’ve had a cold since you were born. Thanks a lot to the kindergarten, which provides all the germs your sister bring home with her.
  • Pacifiers are not your forte. You absolutely hate them, and I suspect it might be because your mother and I tried to get you used to pacifiers from a very early age. Your big sister sure enjoyed them, and that was a life saver, so we were really keen on getting you on the pacifier as well. Luckily, you discovered Thumper instead.
  • Your favorite stuffed animal is Thumper. One time you gagged when couching, and the poor fella had to be washed. We thought that going to sleep without Thumper wouldn’t be a problem. Boy, were we wrong. You wailed in cries of agony, no matter how much we sang, and cradled you. I ended up drying Thumper with a hand dryer for half an hour, and when you got him back, you went out like a light. Thankfully, your mother found a spare Thumper on eBay a couple of days later.
  • We might have to thank Thumper for this, but you love sleeping. You’ve slept through the night - in your own bedroom - from when you were about four months old. I’m not sure your mother and I appreciate that fact enough. Sleep is one of the great struggles of many parents, and while we cradled you quite a lot for the first few months, we’re very lucky compared to many other parents. So thank you!
  • You are very forgiving, and patient. For a while now, we’ve been delivering and picking up your big sister from the kindergarten by bicycle. The bike trailer you’re sitting in is a wee bit big, and the same goes for your helmet. The result is that it’s sometimes hard for you to see anything during the 8 minutes ride. Many kids would throw a fit, but you’re having a whale of a time back there in the trailer.
  • That said, you also have a hell of a temper. Laying you down on the changing table when you don’t want to, or picking you up when you’re about to crawl up the stairs, will unleash both fire and fury. You come down again pretty quickly, though.
  • You’re amazingly happy, and cheerful. Opening your bedroom door in the morning is an absolute delight because we’re greeted by the most enthusiastic grin you can imagine. You also laugh a lot, in particular when your sister does whatever. You love your sister, all right. If she plays with your for even a few seconds, you’re on cloud nine.
  • Unlike your sister when she was your age, you’re very affectionate. You’ll often crawl over to one of us, give us a hug, and move on. Your mother, in particular, is very happy about that.
  • You play by yourself on the floor like a pro. It’s probably a result of being the second child.

The Photo

When I wrote the letter to you sister three years ago, I made a point of pulling out the least successful photo we had of her. I still laugh at that photo. In your case, however, I couldn’t find a picture like that. It’s not because we take less photos of you, neither are you any more photogenic than your sister. That’s my fault, by the way.

But we can’t end this without a picture of you. So here’s a self-portrait you took a little while back using my cellphone.

A toddler taking a selfie, looking very excited! She is half in-frame, and the picture is upside down.

Lots of love, your proud father

  1. The character is a male called Dylan in the original, English version, so we’ll have to thank the translator for your lovely name. ↩︎


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