Why I Love This Age

So far, two has been a pretty amazing age. I’m still not over my fascination with Alex’s language development, and I have a sneaking suspicion I won’t be over it for a long time.

Because my time is limited these days (and by “limited” I mean “practically-non-existent-oh-my-god-how-is-it-November-holy-crap-I-have-how-many-tests-next-week-good-lord-did-my-son-grow-eight-inches-since-I-last-saw-him”), instead of making potentially entertaining posts about individual occurrences, here are two Alex snippets:

Instead of naming the colors (which he knows for the most part), he has decided it is much more entertaining to name what color it is not. Case in point: The other night I took out four crayons, each a different color, and asked him, “What color is that crayon?”

“It’s not blue!”

“Yes, but what color is it?”

“Umm…it’s not yellow!”

“Yes, but what color is it?”

“Umm…it’s not…orange!”

(For the record, it was a red crayon. And it was also not purple or white.)

Anyone who has had any experience with toddlers can tell you this, but: sometimes, they make no sense. None. Zilch. Zip. Nada. It’s not only because the way they say words is, well, less than perfect, it’s also because sometimes they just say really, unbelievably, random things.

Alex was drawing (again) tonight, and started talking about pandas. Nice pandas, mean pandas. A panda playing with a shark, who had eyes…and a tail.

Me: Whatchu talkin’ about, Willis?

Alex: Nooooo, Mommy! I not Wiwus, I’m Ass-ix!”

My little Alex. Who is not Willis. Or red, blue, purple, pink, orange or yellow.

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Let The Bargaining Begin!

I wasn’t prepared.

When I said, “if you open your mouth and let me brush your teeth we can finish watching Caillou,” I fully expected to get a screaming, “NO!” in my face. Instead, Alex opened his mouth and let me brush his teeth. When I was finished, he asked, “Caillou now?”

I thought it was a fluke.

When I told Alex, “If you put all of your dinosaurs away I will pull out those blocks that you so desperately want to play with,” I fully expected nothing to happen. For the dinosaurs to stay sprawled out all over the floor and for the incessant, “bocks! Peeeease?” to continue. But instead, Alex put away every single one of his dinosaurs and then asked for help pulling his blocks out from under the table.

I thought it was just a coincidence. He just happened to put his dinosaurs away when I wanted him to.

“If you walk up to your room and let me change your diaper we can go outside and blow bubbles.” He not only walked, he ran to his room. And he didn’t kick, scream, or fight me at all while I was changing his diaper. Then, we played with bubbles.

Whenever he wants to pull out more than two toys/sets of toys, I tell him he has to put one away in order to get the other one out. “If you want to play with the Little People blocks, you have to put away your dinosaurs or the cars.” The most amazing thing is that he then puts away some of his toys.

This bargaining? Is awesome. While Alex is often very good about most things, on those times when he decides he needs to have something RIGHT.NOW or he absolutely will not do whatever it is I need him to do? “If you do X, we can do Y” always works.

The other day, this is what I overheard:

Alex: “Help! Balloon. Can’t reach it! Daddy help. Too far away. Need the help!”
Zach: “If you give me a kiss I’ll get it for you.”

Worked like a charm. Alex gave a kiss and got his balloon.

It may not be the best way to get affection, but I may try that next time I need a little love.

Drinking from a big, real, glass

“If you give me a big hug, I’ll let you drink out of that big glass again.”

A Little Bit

Just a small peak at Alex’s language:

Language acquisition is fascinating. The way that children learn to communicate is something I would love to one day learn more about. Currently, I just love listening to him figure out new words, learn how to put words together. I love the look in his eyes when he says a full sentence (or two or three) and I repeat it back to him word for word. When he says a new word or sentence and I understand it immediately his eyes light up. When he says a full sentence that I am unable to understand, he sometimes gets very upset, tilting his head down and looking away from me.

My worries about his language development have (pretty much) dissipated. He talks all the time, communicates exactly what he needs, and surprises me most days with a new word (or ten). His narration of his life can be pretty hilarious at times, too:

“Walk walk walk. RUN! I’m running! Going down the stairs. Trying to fall down the stairs! Oh no! No fall down the stairs! Careful, Alex*. Careful down the stairs. Walk walk walk. Getting The Ernie! Oh no! What happened to Ernie’s hat? I broke it! I fixed it! Oh no! Where is the ball? Mommy help. I FOUND IT! Mommy play? Chasing the baby. Mommy chasing the baby. Run run run. I GOT YOU!”

*Yes, he really does say this to himself. Sometimes it’s just “be careful!” in the exact tone that I use when saying it to him, sometimes he uses his name. Which, if you watch the video, you’ll notice sounds little like Alex and more like “ass ix.”

The Little Things

I have come to accept that over the course of the next year I will miss some firsts. And I am in the process of accepting that that is okay. I don’t need to witness the first everything. Instead, I will focus on the adorable, wonderful, frustrating, awesome, silly, things that Alex does now, even if they aren’t brand new. Even if I wasn’t the first to see, or notice.

Take, for example, Alex’s use of “a piece of.”

It all started with his birthday cake. “Alex, do you want a piece of birthday cake?”

“Yeah! A piece of birfday cake!”

Then, for the rest of that day he would ask for a piece of birthday cake. Then, for the entirety of the next few days he would ask for a piece of birthday cake. Then, he would ask for a piece of anything.

“A piece of a yogurt?”
“A piece of milk?”
“A piece of orange juice?”
“A piece of blueberries?”
“A piece of medicine?”

He’s also mastered the understanding of half. He knows when something is broken in half, he sometimes fusses when things break in half, and he has even demanded that I cut things in half. “Cut it in half!” “No! No break in half!”

A few weeks ago, he asked me to cut his milk in half. He was not terribly understanding when I explained to him that I wasn’t able to cut his milk.

It’s the little things that will keep me going this year:

The fact that Alex finally (sometimes) says “Thank You,” even if it comes out as one big word: “Tankoooo!”

The fact that Alex almost always says “Bless you” when someone sneezes. Even himself. He reminds us all to be polite.

The fact that Alex continues to call Batman “Fatman.”

The fact that Alex runs up to me on the days I am able to pick him up from daycare, yelling, “Mommy!” while waving his arms enthusiastically and immediately asking to be picked up for a big hug and kiss.

The fact that Alex loves to build things. He asks regularly to “build a tower? Build a house? Build a tunnel?”

The fact that Alex tells us directly when he doesn’t like something. “NO WIKE IT!” (His “L” sound is still a struggle.)

I take these little moments and remember them throughout my long days at school. When a patient asks me about my life, which so far every one has, I share the little stories of my son with them. It’s amazing what a difference the silly little anecdotes can make for my sanity and for the comfort of someone in pain. I even had a patient tell me, “no wike it!” when I asked how their lunch was that day; a big smile formed across their face.

These little moments have not been well documented in photo form lately. I haven’t touched my camera in two weeks. But I keep these moments in my head, and here in written form. I may end up missing out on a few weeks of Alex’s growth in photos here and there, but I will do my best to keep up with his life here. Even if it means taking ten minutes out of my weekend studying, because I’d rather miss a question on an exam than forget that when Alex was 2 years old he was obsessed with Caillou, screamed, “NO WIKE IT!” and gave the sweetest kisses.

Dinosaur hat (cropped)

At Least It’s Not “Why?” (Yet)

Alex doesn’t really understand questions. He doesn’t get the who-what-when-where-why when I ask him, and he never asks any of them, either. (That’s not entirely true. He understands “who?” and “where?” quite well, but he doesn’t say it.)

I’m sure that it’s coming, but I’m happy to not yet have to deal with all of the WHY? questions.

Instead of the WHY? questions, we get a special kind of question here. When something changes, his TV show goes to commercial, a ball rolls under the table, his tower falls down, he asks, “What happened?”

More specifically, he asks, “What happened to the ____?”

“What happened to the ball?”
“What happened to the tower?”
“What happened to the Caillou?”
“What happened to the Daddy?”
“What happened to the Elmo? What happened to the Ernie?”

Everything gets “What happened to the” in front of it.

It’s pretty darn cute.

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“What happened to the smiley cookie?” (It broke in half. He was very distraught.)

The Best Yet

I’m currently reading Year of Wonders, a story about a 17th century small town in England that gets attacked by the plague. The protagonist loses her two young children to this vicious bacteria carried via fleas, and her loss is just as we would expect: she loses it. She is unable to do her work, think properly, or eat.

When she is confronted by a neighbor who tells her that she shouldn’t have become so attached to her children, that she should never love anyone more than she loves God, she is, basically, baffled. She wonders why God would let her love someone so much if she wasn’t supposed to?

While this is never something I have had to question as I believe that there is no love that can compare to the love of a child, it made me wonder a few things. First, are there people who love their God more than their own children? Second, how is is possible to love someone so very much?

If an adult comes into your life, first you may like them. Then you may grow to respect them. And then, after much time together, you may love them. But a child comes into your life and it’s just BAM love. A more intense love than anything you have ever experienced. (This isn’t to say it happens right away for everyone. I know many people who say it didn’t happen for a few months, or even a few years.) You would do anything, and you do anything, for this new person. This new, helpless, little person that just entered your life.

From the moment I saw Alex, I was in love. I sobbed with a mixture of joy from seeing his tiny little perfect face and fear of what his future life would be like. Will he be happy? Will I be a good mother? From the moment I saw his tiny button nose, I knew that I would forever and ever be his. I would be his mother, but it would be more than that. I would do anything for him.

As Alex continues to grow it is becoming more rewarding to have this intense love for him. He runs with a huge grin on his face and asks for a hug whenever I’ve been gone for more than a few minutes. He gives me kisses, asks for more kisses, and sometimes will give continual kisses for minutes at a time.

Today he said, “I wuv yooou.”

How could anyone not love that more than everything else in the world?

Mr. Bright Eyes

Eleven Days

In 11 days, Alex will turn two.

I’m still not sure how I feel about that.

Every day, he becomes more of a person. Every day, his sentences get longer. Every day, he surprises me with a new skill. Every day, he gives me kisses. Every day, he has at least one melt down.

In 11 more days, he will be different than he is today. He will have a larger vocabulary, he will walk and run more smoothly, he will have invented new games, tried new foods, and will be two.

I’m not exactly sure when in the last few months it started, but Alex refers to himself as “baby.” It’s unbelievably cute. He requests that someone does something, and then tells himself to do it too. “Mommy walk! Mm…Baby walk!” “Daddy take a bite? Baby take a bite!” It’s too sweet to even consider stopping. Even though he isn’t a baby anymore, I am going to hold on to that for as long as I possibly can.

Weee!

“Baby swinging!”

Proof That It’s The Beatdown

I was trying to get Alex to say “running” and “chasing” and “fast” or something along those lines the other day. With his second birthday coming up I realized that I have very little video evidence of his ever increasing vocabulary, and I need some video footage for his planned second birthday slideshow. In my attempt to get get a video of him running and speaking, I succeeded at something. It wasn’t quite what I was hoping for, but it was something.

He’s running in hopes of finding the “beatdown.”

(It was in the opposite direction.)

Language Explosion

People aren’t kidding when they say a child’s language will increase exponentially towards the end of the second year.

Just a few months ago, I was concerned about Alex’s language development. Even though I claimed that I wasn’t, I was. Even though he was gaining a new word every so often, I was still worried.

But then? His language exploded. Once he hit about 19 months I found myself shocked every single day by what he was saying.

One morning I asked him, “What do you want for breakfast?”

And not only did he respond, he told me he wanted pancakes. And grapes. He had never said pancakes before that morning.

He tells me when he makes a mess now by saying “messy.” When he’s tired he lets me know by saying “night night.” When he wants the only meat he likes for dinner? He asks for it by name: “kielbasa” or, more often, “basa.”

When he is standing on a surface that he supposed to be sitting on? He says, “Sit down!” in a very stern voice. No idea where he got that voice from.

The playground is still the beatdown, penguins are still “waddle waddle” and apparently bugs “meow” even though he calls them “bug.”

He’s getting there. Two, and even three, word “sentences” are becoming more normal. When he says “Bye bye daycare!” or “Bye bye beatdown!” I smile. Every. Single. Time.

And when he asks for “more mwah!” at bedtime? My heart melts.

Swing Fun

Here Comes A Beatdown

The playground has officially been renamed: Beatdown.

For whatever reason, Alex thinks “playground” should be pronounced “beatdown.”

So, I share with you pictures of our trip to the beatdown yesterday afternoon.

Watching the big kids

Squeezing Through

Waffle Time!

Squeezing Through

I’m not sure how obvious it is that Alex doesn’t really play at playgrounds.

He walks around. He runs around. He climbs up and down hills, up and down stairs. He watches the older kids with fascination, often finding a crush among one of the girls. He follows his crush around. He walks back and forth through the tunnels. He eats.

Every once in a while he will go down a slide or, you know, actually play.

Crazy Long Eyelashes

And I swear the kid does smile. He just no longer smiles for the camera. Or if he is smiling and I think I’m quick enough to catch that adorable smile? He moves his head back and forth really fast to make sure the picture is blurry.