When Tasha’s son, Dowell, was about 8 years old, she gushed to her mom about why this was her favorite age. “He’s so curious about everything and asks the most interesting questions. He’s big enough to do things for himself, but still likes to cuddle. We can do things together that we both enjoy.”

Her mom laughed, and said, “I’ve been meaning to tell you this, but do you realize that you’ve said this every year of his life?”

It took Dowell turning 15 for Tasha to finally say, “You know what? This is not my favorite age.”

But now that he’s 17, it’s our favorite age again. He can drive himself to school, do his own laundry, and even make dinner on occasion (hotdogs on the indoor grill pan). Yet he still delights in small things, like warm cinnamon rolls in the morning, and astounds us with profound things, like a pithy analysis of Russian-Georgia crisis that has us fervently renewing our pledge to NPR.

Now that Hugh is 10 months old, I find myself starting to say how this is my favorite age. He’s big enough to play by himself with modest supervision (perhaps a tad bit more than he had this morning when I found him with a bottle of Nyquil); he laughs out loud at things that are truly funny (not ga-ga-goo-goo, but the cat stumbling down a stair or Dowell popping out from behind the couch); but he’s still enough of a baby to clutch a soft blankie and dig his chubby legs into your lap as he falls asleep with a pacifier.

As much as I’ve loved him since the day he was born, I can’t imagine saying, “Ohhh, I wish he were eight weeks old again, just for a day!” But when he’s two or 12 or heavens forbid, 17, I can imagine yearning for my 10 month-old with the toothless grin, pudgy feet, and wispy mullet of a hairdo.

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My 10 month old

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