We started to develop other nightly rituals before going to bed. Instead of nursing I would cradle J and snuggle him up in his blanket and talk to him softly. I would talk to him about the day we had. I would mention whether we had a really fun day and point out some key memories that would hopefully stick out in his mind. If I asked him if he remembered a particular memory, he'd say Yah. I also started teaching him to say, I Love You. I would say it in a sing-song way and emphasize the 'youuuuuu'. He loved it and would giggle for as long as I would say it.
Then we'd be in the car, maybe to daycare or maybe to the grocery store. It would be something to do and make it seem like a fun sing-song game. I'd look through the review mirror and sing the 'I love youuuu' again and again. Each time J would giggle with excitment.
Eventually J started saying it back to me, the way most babies like to mimic. But when he says it back to me, he's yelling it: "Uv Uoh". We'd say it back and forth and giggle the whole time. Then a few weeks ago he started saying it back to me as I dropped him off at daycare.
This morning was the first time that my silly putty came to me to tell me he loved me. I was in the kitchen preparing his lunch and snacks for daycare. He was babbling in the other room and looking out the front window. I didn't pay too much attention until I heard him constantly yelling "Uv Uoh, Uv Uoh" over and over until I acknowledged him. He had a huge grin on his face and standing in the doorway. I could feel his love in that smile. It was the first time that I honestly think he was telling me how he felt, rather than play the game.
playing in our backyard