During his first few hours at the farmhouse, only 18 months old, he wandered into the dining room where my parents have a wall of photographs. It's a visual family tree, with Dad's family branching to the left, Mom's to the right, and my brothers and I coming down the center, with several more pictures of Abigail, their only grandchild until Joseph entered the family, near the bottom. Joseph looked and squawked and yelled and pointed at the pictures, to those he recognized, I suppose. His sister, recent pictures of aunts and uncles and me and his Baba. And he looked all over the wall, running back and forth the length of the room. Pointing and yelling and squawking more. He did this a few times each day for that first visit.
Then, five weeks later, he did this same thing for his second visit. I suggested to my parents that he was protesting that he didn't have a picture on the wall. I took a cute one, ordered an 8"x10" for them online and made them promise to hang it up once it arrived by mail (in a bright orange envelope!).
Fast forward to Friday night. We arrived at my parents at about 9 pm. Joseph was awake because he had an (unfortunately long) nap in the car for a few hours. After he hugged my parents in the kitchen, he was running through the dining room to the play room full of toys when he stopped and searched the picture wall. He saw his new, big photo and right away, he began pointing and yelling excitedly at it. He led people by the finger into the room and showed them the picture, yelling happy sounds, excitedly saying words that we didn't understand. He was so proud. He made the wall. He knew he was important like his sister and that This was Permanent and he beamed with joy. All weekend, he would periodically run into the dining room and check the wall, pointing and smiling radiantly at his photo, so full of pride and happiness that we thought he might explode!
It was pretty amazing that at 22 months, this is something he decided all on his own was super important and meaningful to him.
Dear sweet Joseph, how deep do your little thoughts go? Please start talking so that we know.