Thursday, August 04, 2005

Two and a Half

Dear Isaac:

You are not actually two and half yet--you won't be for another month, if I'm doing the math right--but I just need to write some things down before I forget. Everything you do these days is so fleeting, I feel like I'm a kid running behind a lightning bug, trying to catch you in my hands. But when I finally catch you, closed up in my fist, then I can't see your pretty light until I open up to peek inside, and out you fly again. (God, is that a ridiculous metaphor, or what? I am so not good at those.)

I need to remember these things about you: the way you pronounce lawn as loin ("I hear loin mower, Mommy! I need to get my loin mower!"); the way you insist that it is never nap time (pronounced "nap-toyma"); the way you will snatch a toy out of your sister's hands, but then quickly toss her a different one before she starts crying. And say, without a trace of irony, "I think Viv likes this toy, Mom. She want this one."

You still love brooms, mops, dustpans, vacuums, sponges--in short, cleaning supplies of any sort are your favorite toy. Perhaps you will grow up to be a janitor. If that's what's going to make you happy, baby, I'm all for it. I am looking forward to the day when your coordination improves enough so that you will actually be cleaning up, rather than making more of a mess, when you use these "toys".

You love your sister intensely, which is wonderful to watch. Listening to the two of you giggle hysterically is my all time favorite activity. You love it when I put the two of you to bed in the same room ("Vivi want to sleep in here! Vivi want to sleep in here!"). As soon as I leave the room the hysterics begin. Unfortunately, generally the thing you are both giggling at is a game which involves you climbing into Vivian's crib, and then the two of you taking turns sitting on top of each other until somebody gets an elbow in an eye and the giggles turn to wails. At which point I have to remove you from the crib, and return Vivian to her pack n' play in the other room, much to everyone's dismay. I must add here, too: although you love your sister, you have very specific ideas about her role in all of our lives. You frequently tell me things like "Vivi don't like to sit on your lap, Mom." Or "Vivi need a nap." Or "Vivi want to go in the other room. You stay here, but put Vivi there."

Truly, however, your verbal abilities are improving exponentially every day. You come up with new expressions to delight and amaze us all the time. The newest one--"Don't be mad at me, Mom"-- you threw out the other day, after the 16th time you had climbed out of your bed during naptime, rendering me completely incapable of disciplining you. Master manipulator, already. You also say things like "Do you want to watch Teletubbies or sompin?" and "Let's go for a little walk, okay, Mom?" and I melt completely. I hear myself in your words and inflections-- what a self-affirming thrill to witness that you actually do learn from me!

Now that you have a "big-boy bed", bedtime is much more snuggly. I climb in there with you, and bring Vivian in for the reading of "The Lorax" (your current favorite), then Lance puts Vivian in her crib and we talk to your bears. Talking to the bears has been going on for several months, and you always have a pretty good idea of what it is we need to talk about. However, since I am the one who must speak to the bears, you first tell me what to say, and then I say it. I am aware, little one, that this is a stalling technique. Fortunately for you, it's pretty cute, so I don't mind. "Talk to Baby Bear about Isaac go to restaulant, and to beach cwub and ate chips and the sand and my owie hurts and. . ." you will demand, and I cut in, embellishing and adding details from our day, much to your delight. This we repeat with Curly Bear, and Dinosaur, ending with Isaac. Which is actually a big improvement from a few months ago, when we had to talk to all the bears about the neighbor using his sander and lawn-mower, every time, for 4 or 5 months straight.

Sometimes I snuggle in bed with you and we fall asleep together. Usually I fall asleep first, with you still climbing from one side of me to the other, elbowing me in the nose or face without care. It is only that I am so exhausted from following you around all day that I am able to sleep through that. I don't understand something, though--why are you not tired? Can we please work on this "falling asleep" thing? Trust me, when you are older, being able to fall asleep in less than 10 minutes, like yours truly, will be a cherished skill.

You are two and a half, and you definitely received the memo about temper-tantrums which comes with this developmental stage. Really, the shrieking and carrying on can be awe-inspiring. I never realized the depth of despair one can fall into if one's mother offers soy yogurt for breakfast instead of otter pops. One tactic I use to diffuse these epic sound barrier breaking fits is to ask you to "take a deep breath and let's count to ten". And so you count, through your tears, all the way to ten, and then "d'eleven, twele, forteen, twen-teen". Because in your world, counting to ten really means counting to twenty, and no matter how many times we go over the numbers, you just have no use for 13, 15, 16, 17, 18, or 19. Despite the difficulty with numbers, usually this activity calms you down enough so that I can distract you. Or give in to you, whichever my mood dictates. (Look, that mom is being inconsistent! Her child will grow up to be a psychopath!)

Oh, and along with the temper-tantrums have come the demands. At school, the teachers make an effort to teach you all to stand up for yourselves, so if one of your friends grabs a toy out of your hands, you have been taught to say things like, "Don't do that! I was using that toy. It's my turn now!" While I recognize that this is a good thing to learn, I am not loving how it manifests itself at home. As in "No, Mom! Don't do that!" followed by shrieks heard all the way in the valley. And "Give me that! Get me milk! I want milk!!"

We have been half-heartedly trying to potty-train for a few months now, but since you are showing NONE of the signs of readiness, I confess to not making this much of an issue. You will pee on the potty before your bath, and occasionally in the morning or before bed, but that's it. If I suggest it at any other time of day I may as well have turned off Elmo in mid-viewing for the response I get. Oh, and we tried pull-ups, and underwear. This did not go over well. For some reason you have a complete catatonic fear of anything other than your own diapers. So for now, I toil daily with my double diaper duty (hey! Alliteration!), and you owe me for this, oh first born, because there are some days when the shit-storm in our house would be enough to drive sanitation workers to drink. Come to think of it, perhaps this is why I drink.

Of course, all these complaints are not really complaints. I will put up with shit, screams and demands for the rest of my life if it means I get to cover you with kisses all day. ("I knock mommy over!" you say triumphantly as you rush into me while I sit there innocently on the floor. And then I am on my back and you are giggling on top of me, kissing my neck and repeating with me "I love my cuddle monkey!", sometimes adding: "No Viv! You are NOT cuddle monkey, I am cuddle monkey!") How did I get so lucky?

Thank you, Isaac. I love you.

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