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While we were in New Orleans, we had to take our son to the emergency room. He’s fine, and was fine at the time, but he had bronchiolitis/RSV and was wheezing a lot. We called his pediatrician, who said it was probably not a big deal but since he’d never wheezed before we should have someone check him out. Due to insurance restrictions, we ended up in the ED. They declared him a “happy wheezer”, didn’t even think he needed a breathing treatment, and sent us on our merry way with an inhaler and mask gizmo, just in case.

When we checked in, I had to fill out an admissions form. This form had an extensive section for information on all three of us, more so than any form I’ve previously encountered. I was rolling right through the baby’s section — social security number, name, birthdate — when I hit a blank that gave me pause.

Religion: ___________________

Nobody had asked me this before. Mine and his father’s, yes, but I’ve never had to mark down baby J’s religion. I paused and looked at BWB, who shrugged. Just put both, he said. Oh, right, of course. So I filled it out: Christian/Jewish. I was proud of us, satisfied with that answer, and moved on.

The clerk at the desk, an older gentleman who had been telling me about his pre-Katrina job in real estate, looked apologetic. “I’m sorry, mama, but the system only lets me put one in.” I frowned, and started to explain that it wouldn’t be accurate. “Should I put down other?” Um. Okay? So my son got marked down as “other”, and he apologized again. He said he was Cajun, and they never had a good box to check for that, or for Creole either. I smiled and nodded, and we moved on.

But I haven’t moved on. My son is other? No. Other implies not belonging, lack of definition. My son is not other. My son is loved and accepted by two communities, has two sets of ladies at coffee hour and oneg who want to hold him. My son was blessed by a rabbi and a priest, he hears both Shalom Rav and Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing sung to him as lullabies at bedtime. I reject your checkbox, fancy computer system.

Yet even as I write this, I know that this is only the beginning. We have a long road of other-ness ahead of us, and I am sure this will be far from the last time that we find ourselves in this position. We are still confident in our choice to “do both”, and still certain we will make this work. That doesn’t mean we’re not aware that it would have been easier to just pick one. Sometimes the right thing isn’t the easy thing, though.

Someday, my son will speak for himself. He might choose to identify as Jewish, or Christian. He might call himself Buddhist, or Muslim, or Wiccan. Maybe he will continue to claim all of his heritage and defy the checkboxes on his own. Until he gets old enough to make those choices, though, it falls on me to try and make the world accept his religious reality.

So no, not “other”. How about, All of the Above, Yes, or Both? It’s Complicated. More Than Meets the Eye. Answer Unclear, Ask Again Later. Clearly, the form needs to be updated.

In the meantime, we’ll keep doing our thing despite the boxes. My son and our family are many things, and we are okay with that. Even if sometimes we don’t fit neatly on a form.

Eight months. Wow.

I went back and read the last update, from six and a half months, and it’s amazing how much has changed. My son is now super mobile, crawling mostly army-style with his belly on the ground. For short distances, he will stay up on hands and knees, but he’s not fast enough that way and switches when he wants to go farther. Lately he has been pushing up into down-dog, and I wonder if he’s going to crawl hands-and-feet in the near future. He pulls up to standing with increasing confidence, and falls over often because he tries to grab all the things and forgets he can’t stand unsupported yet.

This morning he pulled up on a box, then the box began sliding across the floor. Instead of falling, though, he just moved his feet and basically walked along behind the moving box. Be still my heart, and stop changing so fast, little boy.

Little boy. More and more when he looks up at us, we see his soon-to-be toddler face, instead of the tiny baby we brought home eight months ago. I absolutely cannot believe how fast this is flying by. He is on the cusp of so many things — walking, talking, signing — and shows no sign of slowing down in growth or development. Not that I want him to! Maybe it would be nice if time slowed for a little while, though.

I love watching him explore his world and discover new things. Unfortunately, some of his absolute favorite things are cables and cords, plastic bags, and dog toys, so we spend a lot of time taking things away from him. He adores cups and has since October, but now he seems to be really getting the hang of using them properly. In the last week or so he has become very interested in things that go in and out of other things. Animals of all kinds, but especially dogs, make him shriek with delighted laughter. We started taking swimming lessons and, like his mother was at his age, he is a water-loving little fishy.

His first tooth arrived on Christmas Day, and the second one came on New Years Day. In the process of teething, he stopped sleeping through the night. Now I have a ridiculously distractible baby who nibbles all day but won’t eat a full meal because there is so! much! to! do! — as a result, we are back to nursing semi-constantly overnight. I am grateful we have the hang of sleep-nursing, because otherwise I would be a zombie. As it is, I am more than a little exhausted, and as much as I love baby cuddles, I hope he goes back to sleeping through the night (in his crib) again at some point.

He has gotten very mama-focused and clingy, especially in the evenings and when he is tired. I know it’s very frustrating to BWB, who feels like he can’t help or comfort his son. It’s not a picnic for me, either, as the demands to be held constantly can be very draining, as well as making it hard to fix dinner. I am sure this, too, shall pass, but in the meantime we’re all a little cranky.

My son loves food. He wants ALL THE FOOD, and gets very upset if we are eating something and don’t offer it to him. This has definitely affected my food choices, as I try to make sure there is always something baby-friendly on my plate. The list of food he has eaten is long, varied, and includes scrambled eggs, watermelon, peas, green beans, sweet potatoes, carrots, king cake, croissants, mashed potatoes, grits, squash, rice, baguette, goat cheese, pizza crust, yogurt, goldfish crackers, rice crackers, Cheerios, oatmeal, gelato, broccoli, and pasta. He starts at a new day care Monday and they tell me they have to keep him on purée until he’s a year old, unless I get a note from his doctor. Given his impatience with food lacking texture, I think I will be talking to his doctor.

We’ve had a lot of firsts this six weeks: first Hanukkah, first Christmas, first train trip, first Mardi Gras parades. He loved opening presents, loved lighting candles, and charms his grandparents (again) at every opportunity. He was a champ at the parades, sleeping through some of them and giggling at others. He loved the music, of course. My little guy loves music of all kinds, and sings along often.

I love this baby so much. I could (and do) go on and on for hours about him. It kills me every time he outgrows something, or hits a new milestone, and I am torn between bursting with pride and wailing that he please slow down, stop growing up so fast. Too fast, it’s just going by too, too fast.

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