Sometimes I stare. It’s hard to believe someone so beautiful could have so much of my DNA, you know?
“Why don’t you gather some toys and come into the kitchen so we can have naked time while I cook your dinner?”
This post is a month overdue, but that is what happens when you have a toddler. Madness and time travel.
On Nov. 5, Holden turned two. His language skills are taking off like a weird little rocket, just zooming up and up each day. And even though half the time we are totally bewildered by what he is trying very emphatically to tell us, the other half of the time he’s being so suddenly crystal clear that it’s shocking.
He will ask, “What is that?!” and wants us to name everything again and again, so he can commit it to memory. We play this game many times a day, pointing out our surroundings and body parts. He can repeat back a few things but he can point out damn near anything you can think of. He loves to show his belly. When I show him mine, he loves to cover it back up. Smart boy.
He likes to call for things. His daddy, the kitty, his cup of milk if he can’t find it.
He has finally started saying “bye bye” when we leave, and he’s starting to purposefully say “mama” now. Not sure why he never picked up on those two phrases earlier, but it’s fun to hear them now.
He loves books. So much. He will sit quietly and page through them, or bring one over and crawl up in my lap so that I will read to him. In particular he loves his Bill Cosby Little Detective book about the farmer’s market (because we pick out and name all the food) and his Grover book about animals (because we pick out and name all the animals).
Back in September, he took his first real extended overnight roadtrip, and was a real trooper, even though he’d been sick with some mystery virus. We had a great time exploring Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, and spent a long day at Dollywood, during which he was SO GOOD. He liked riding rides and watching people. We let him feed the ducks and he snuck some duck food but didn’t care for the taste too much.
Holden had his first real Halloween this year, too. We didn’t really do much last year since he wasn’t walking yet, but this year we dressed him up as a lion and went out on the town. The weather was weird on Halloween night so we didn’t realize until several houses in that the Sylvan Park streets we were cruising (to stay close to my work, since I was still on the clock) had actually postponed their Halloween festivities until the following night. Ooops. So we took our five pieces of candy and headed to the Green Hills mall, where everyone else had apparently gone an hour earlier. We saw lots of kids in costume but it was sort of petering out by then. Our little lion enjoyed the people watching, and his first taste of Twix.
One of Holden’s favorite things to do is hide and jump out to spook people, particularly his daddy. In the morning, we will be playing in the living room and he will hear his daddy stir in the bedroom or bathroom, and he’ll get this wide-eyed look and come running to me and begging to hide under a blanket or behind a pillow. Then, when his daddy walks into the room, he will pop out and we’ll yell, “SURPRISE!” Daddy plays along every time.
Another favorite thing is counting. We can go to five, although “four” and “five” sound a lot like “one” and “two.” Still, this guy gets really excited when he counts all five fingers.
And he loves to flip the light switches to turn the lights off and on.
He weighs in at 24 pounds and is in the upper percentiles for height, so still long and lean. He’s got super strange taste in food, and really loves nuts and seeds and baked/dried veggies (peas and green beans mostly) more than anything. Not a big fan of meat in general unless it’s bacon or pureed and snuck into some vegetables. Can’t get enough of those fruit pouch things. Loves milk, water and juice.
This child loves pomegranate jewels and hates bubble baths.
A few months ago he invented a game we call papertowelball. At first we tried to get him to stop throwing the ball up on the counter, but we realized he was trying to hit the paper towels. And a game was born. So we bought him a proper basketball goal, but he still preferred the paper towels, so we ended up having to hide them (since one of the downsides of papertowelball is that the ball will constantly get stuck up there or accidentally — or not so accidentally — get thrown into the sink). He is taking to his basketball goal pretty well and I hope to have him on Leno within six months.
He’s had a couple of pretty epic tantrums that have tested my patience (and I failed) but for the most part, when he’s feeling well, this guy is a lot of fun to be around. He likes to wrestle and play pretty rough, and he has a wacky sense of humor. He’s very sweet, though, and gives good hugs and kisses, and has the best laugh. We are having quite the adventure.
I stayed home from work today. Blame it on not getting home from work until 1 a.m. and then being up half the remaining night with an angry stomach. I have powered through days on three hours of sleep more times than I care to recount but today it was not happening. I fed my baby breakfast and kept him away from sharks and live wires until naptime, and then I went back to bed. Sadly I did not get to sneak in another nap the entire rest of the day, but sick days are not the same once you’re 31 and have a kid.
I spent the day wrangling Holden and counseling him on how much more effective words would be than the VERY LOUD whine-grunt he uses to lodge complaints. The sound seriously plucks at something deep and reptilian within me that makes me want to smash things. But in positive language developments, he now says “I love you!” fairly enthusiastically when prompted, thanks to that crazy dog I complained about. He can also locate the dog’s heart when asked. Touché, dog. You taught my kid how to love. Sorry I complained that you were too happy, yeesh.
To be honest, I am only blogging at this late hour because I’m procrastinating going downstairs and going to bed. That is how tired I am. My exhaustion and my laziness are doing battle and you, dear reader, are the real winner here.
What else can I type-blab about?
Oh, we saw a groundhog across the street the other day. Is it THE groundhog?! I don’t know. It never came close enough for me to play nature tracker* to compare and contrast its traits with the photo I have. Obviously, it’s likely that there was more than one groundhog living around here, so even if one of them was hurt or killed, there could be others. But we have decided, officially, to believe that this is the groundhog one of our neighbors tried to murder, and that he fought off death valiantly, and that he is going to eat the shit out of some garden veggies for revenge.
* kudos to you parents who got the Dinosaur Train reference. Pteam Pteranodon 4 LYFE!
You know who you are:
Twenty months on this earth now, barreling toward two years. I haven’t done a proper update in months and for that I am sorry but I am letting it go. Guilt fuels nothing but bad things and my sparse internetting has not kept you from blooming into a beauty to behold and an ox to contend with should you determine you might not be getting your way.
You are strong and determined and stubborn just like the two of us responsible for your particular blend of DNA. You are sometimes easily frustrated, quick to lash out in anger, and of questionable temperament when you are tired. You are a clone of us, boy. Sorry about your luck! You also seem to have inherited my delicious mosquito-bait blood rather than your father’s blood, which is spicy and not to their liking. You are shy and take a good twenty minutes when in any new setting or when among unfamiliar people (as in, anyone but me and your dad) before you will warm up and have any fun.
But you are also so lovely and sweet and shy and so silly and talkative when you feel comfortable and safe.
You are way into high fives — especially if I ham it up like your thwack really hurt my hand, tough guy — and being outside. You like to taste things: My arm, that thing on the floor, the trees.
You enjoy taking things out of containers and then putting them into other containers, and then taking them out and putting them back in again. You like to pick up all your toys off the floor and put them in your new toy box. And then when your toys are put away you like to put everything else in your box too. The remote, my shoes, your sippy cup. Everything has its place, and it’s in your toy box.
I have not yet tired of just sitting and watching you toddle around on your own two legs. You were a late walker — a super late walker at 19.5 months. Everyone told us not to worry, to enjoy the crawling phase. Once they’re walking, you’ll be chasing them all over the place! But it’s hard to enjoy the crawling phase with that nagging worry in the back of your head that something is wrong. That we should have caught the problem by now and started correcting it. And then sure enough, as soon as I had halfway resolved to contact ECI, I saw you go from coffee table to chair on your own legs one morning. As if it was nothing big. We had been encouraging you to walk and you’d do it if we stood you up and pointed you in the right direction. But this morning was different. You decided you’d get around on your feet as a matter of preference. And you’ve been toddling around since then, only stopping to crawl when it is strategically necessary for you to terrify Ms. Kitty on her level.
And I have loved every minute of the walking phase so far. You stay cleaner (going somewhere only to have you act as a Swiffer the whole time can wear on one’s nerves and your clothes), your knees aren’t nearly as banged up, and you look freaking ADORABLE walking around, dude.
You don’t understand why we won’t let you just go go go. Why we have to hold your hand and guide you down the big hill in the front yard or across parking lots or along the edges of deep water or up next to dogs that weigh five times what you do. You waited so long to walk, you probably wonder why we are putting so many limits on your newfound superpower.
You caught on early to the concept of catching and throwing a ball, and now you have a fantastic overhand fastball. I’m completely serious. You have good aim and you’re a damn good faker, too; you can look one direction and hit a target in the other. And catch without looking. You favor your left hand for pretty much everything, which your Grandpa will take great pride in some day because he TOTALLY CALLED IT when you were a tiny baby. How does he know these things? I will take a guess: He grows wisdom in that crazy beard of his.
Your favorite books are the ones with animals in them and we “read” them by going through and naming all the animals. You are so totally confused by the concept of a Grover but you seem to get who Elmo and Cookie Monster are. You have a bad habit of throwing your books directly at my face when you want to read them or when you want to stop reading them. You also do this with your cup and all of your toys. I’m not sure you understand your own strength but you probably also really enjoy watching how worked up I get when you clock me on the nose with a full cup of milk. We’re working on our control; mine involves me not Losing My Shit every time I get a busted lip and yours involves you placing things gently on the table. It’s a walk we will walk together for a long time, I’m sure.
You know how to point to all sorts of things. You can show me where the red stars are in your bedroom, and where the blue stars are, and where the wall is, the door, the ceiling, and more. Tonight we were outside and I asked you where the house was and you showed me! Every night before bed we say good night to all the things on your wall, including the air conditioner (“thanks for keeping us cool!”) and the humidifier that looks like Mr. Kitty’s head, and we do it in the same order so that you know what’s coming. You like to make the blue star swing and you touch the H made out of buttons that Coco made for us. And you point to the bumblebees stuck to the back of your door before you touch the blue and black dots.
Daddy and I both have been hearing you say your name. I heard you say it to the mirror today and it’s kind of hard to believe, but I’ve heard it a few times now. You love to hear us count and say the alphabet and you will chime in with your own additions and sometimes make perfect sense. Other times we just assume you are being creative. You say “da” for ball and a couple of other things, but I figure now that you’ve got that walking thing out of the way, we’ll start to recognize more and more words as the weeks pass.
We cheated and put you in a forward-facing car seat part-time (it’s in my car) last month. I felt squicky about it but you are really only in it once or twice a week. You still ride like a balled-up armadillo in the back of your daddy’s car. The first time you rode forward facing, you had THE BEST TIME EVER. However, you can’t really figure out how to fall asleep in your new seat since it’s not as laid back and since there’s so much more to see, so long roadtrips involve a lot of whining. From both of us.
I started reading a book about how to better communicate with toddlers, so I’ve started doing and saying some utterly silly things that I hope will help me empathize with you a little better and not just assume you are being an asshole for the sake of being an asshole (although of course you still have that option at all times). Mothering a toddler is at times the most frustrating thing I have ever done (it barely beats out being in a relationship with an adult male) but I always just have to stop and think about how, two years ago, you were inside my tummy and had never even breathed air! You have evolved A LOT since then. Two years ago, I was eating Nutella out of the jar and crying at the season finale of Food Network Star. I think you pretty much win the evolution battle this round, kiddo.
You’re a doll. I love you beyond what I thought I could muster in this lifetime. It’s true.
When Ray goes to pee, he makes a big production out of it. Not for me … most of the time. For Holden.
He goes: “Dada gonna pee pee in the POTTY!” and acts like it’s the most exciting thing he’s ever done.
Holden, of course, takes the bait with great gusto and follows Ray into the bathroom and watches him do his business. Ray bids his urine a ceremonious farewell by saying, “BYE BYE, PEE PEES! BYE BYE!” and flushes the toilet, putting down the seat and the lid. At which point Holden, who has been watching the entire scene with rapt attention, reaches out to pat the closed lid a couple of times while Ray says, “Godspeed, pee pees. Godspeed.”
It is fucking adorable, the whole thing.
But it means we are already potty training. Enter the frog potty. Oh lord god help us all.
Ray bought Holden this cute little guitar that plays a few tunes, and it has three real strings and a whammy bar that make cool sounds.
It plays four awesome songs — “Love Shack,” “Wild Thing,” “Message in a Bottle,” and “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.”
It also plays “All Star.” By Smash Mouth.
Guess which song is the most powerful earworm of the bunch.
You are pure energy! This month was all about exploration and expression. You are scooting and crawling and cruising all over the house, including up the stairs. Your curiosity is growing and you don’t like being steered away from something that has piqued your interest. You even walked a little bit for a few days! I realize that is probably no big whoop to parents of your contemporaries, who have had walkers for months now, but this is a big deal to us. You are very conservative with your walking efforts. There for a couple of days, you would take six or so steps between daddy and me, unassisted. We cheered and made such a big celebration every time. So naturally you have decided you are not into that, and now you won’t do your parlor tricks for us anymore. Simpletons.
You are still absolutely obsessed with Mr. Kitty. He can’t sit anywhere near you without you being up in his business. I am bracing for him to get annoyed and pop you, at which point your daddy will send him into orbit, but he hasn’t quite yet. He has very firmly stretched out his arm and placed his paw on you, as if to say, “That is close enough.” But you don’t seem to pick up on his subtle hints. You just squint tight, smile wide, shake with excitement, and go at him with a big open mouth anyway. You loooove kissing that kitty.
Your expressions are so funny when you really get excited. Your little balled-up shake move tickles me. And you put on a real show after your baths. Like in this video, when you were just out of the tub and feeling feisty. Your grandmother was in the next room trying to sleep, but you decided it was time for some mirror yellin’.
You really enjoy having your expressions mirrored, either by the baby in the mirror or by mama and daddy. And one of your favorite games is being surprised. You make the funniest “OOOOOOH!!!” face and sound and run away. You love playing with a ball and chasing it around or rolling and tossing it back and forth. You like inspecting your toys on all sides and considering how they work. And then throwing them. Lately you’ve really enjoyed throwing every toy and soaked wash cloth out of the bathtub during the entire bath. You are also really into throwing all your toys down into the office/cat room, including steering your little 4-wheeler over the cliff and making it crash into the floor below. And then you look at me, like, Why did you let that happen?!
You go to sleep at night and take naps with your Cookie Monster that Daphne, Coco, and Dustin gave you. Do you remember when you first saw Cookie Monster at your birthday party, and you were SO SCARED? Who would have ever thought you’d become best friends with him? Sometimes we will hear Cookie Monster say, “Let’s sing … together!” over the monitor at night, and it sounds both precious and terrifying, because Cookie Monster sounds like an actual monster when whisper-growling via a baby monitor. Seriously.
As the weather is warming up, you’re getting to go outside more and more, which you love. You are content to sit on mine or daddy’s lap on the porch and watch the trees and the cars. I take you onto the front lawn and we sit out in the sun and you tug at the grass and smell the wind. You are so chill. But you do get upset when it’s time to come inside.
We traveled back to Memphis for a split second and you got to see some old friends and a brand new baby! I wish we got to see our old friends more often but I40 is longer than it should be sometimes.
You sprouted a bunch of new teeth this month, including a molar. So you’re eating more complicated food when you’re not busy throwing it on the floor to test gravity. You’re always interested in what mama and daddy are eating (and still cannot wait to get your hands on our coffee), but it’s more often than not in theory, because you get a taste of some new things and get really weirded out at the effort required to chew and swallow some of the stuff we eat. And then you’ll go and eat a bunch of lima beans. Are you sure you’re my kid?
Daddy has been sneaking you haircuts all month, and I finally got him to save a lock of hair for me. I guess you’re happier now without all that wispy stuff in your eyes all the time, but it was a milestone your mama wasn’t quite ready for you to hit.
You’re a really happy kiddo, kiddo. And that makes us happy.
Your upper lip will find itself in a fight with a puffs tin, and you will be suckerpunched by gravity and surprised by the floor when it rises to greet your face. The good news: The other babies will not f*ck with you because you will look like a boxer.
Lucky numbers: None
Jupiter is in retrograde, even though Mommy said it was way up there in the sky. How could Mommy lie so easily? You might find comfort in long, indulgent juice binges to numb the pain of betrayal, but you will wake up soaked in pee pees. Choose carefully.
Lucky numbers: 1
While it’s true that Grammy and Pop don’t appreciate your work as a mosaic artist who specializes in broken heirloom ceramics, the world some day just might. Don’t let their shock and horror discourage you; laugh maniacally at your grandparents to make sure you communicate your artistic vision.
Lucky numbers: 70, 1,000
Your growing sense of deja vu is not deja vu at all: You really have been given the exact same oatmeal breakfast for 234 days in a row.
Lucky numbers: 7, poop, 13
The pretty moving picture machine Daddy bought for you that he never seems to let you get anywhere near will stop working for some reason during your attempt to remove all the water from the bathtub and transfer it to Daddy while he’s playing Angry Birds on the pretty moving picture machine when he’s supposed to be washing your hair.
Lucky numbers: 1-800-MY-IPHONE
You’re generous with affection, Virgo, and everyone is drawn to your spastic but heartfelt expressions. Kitty feels emotionally neglected enough these days that even your VERY HARD pats and eye-pokes are a welcome diversion. Be liberal with them. Occasionally put your face directly against his butthole. Mommy thinks it’s hilarious and the kitty loves it so much.
Lucky numbers: 911
Once you realize the power you wield over your parents via the monitor that sits next to their bed, you will be an unstoppable cockblocking machine.
Lucky numbers: -30-
No one can force you to take a stand or just to stand, period. If you feel pressured, it’s best to crumple into an awkwardly bent ball where you are and sing the wailing song of nonviolent resistance until someone picks you up and apologizes for being so presumptuous.
Mommy and Daddy’s lucky numbers: 80 proof
You will be surprised that the steaming hot coffee you’ve coveted every morning since you became independently mobile actually contains what tastes like soot from the fireplace mixed with lukewarm tub water. How does this disgusting elixer manage to animate your parents every morning?
Lucky numbers: !!!
Your stash of floor Cheerios will be threatened by the dog, who hasn’t been fed in a week because your parents forgot he exists.
Lucky numbers: O, O, O, O, O
Everyone thinks it’s cute that you change the channel to the public access station every time you get your hands on the remote, but you seriously just want to watch a city zoning and planning meeting for once because that affects your future more than just about anything else on the TV. Stupid grown-ups.
Lucy numbers: Channel 3
The function and inner-workings of the stairs have mystified you for months, but you will have a breakthrough today when you realize that everything that gets thrown up to the top HAS BEEN THERE THE WHOLE TIME. You will need an extra long nap to process this incredible information, as your brain risks overheating.
Lucky numbers: Zzzz