Tales of the Toddler

Well, here we are in the second full week of Nanowrimo, and in the time-honored tradition of Wrimos everywhere, I’m procrastinating writing the novels by writing other things. Besides, I feel a bit bad for neglecting the faithful ol’ blog for so long. Part of the neglect is not having anything particular to talk about lately. Most of my brain is occupied with work and the same historical novel I’ve been shoving uphill like Sisyphus for an eternity now. I haven’t read any new books in at least a month (I was having my semi-annual Anne of Green Gables series re-read, may post a bit about that later too).

But there is one thing keeping my life interesting, and that’s the Munchkin. He’s a full-blown toddler now, two years and one month old, with all the whip-lash inducing mood-swings and blinding changes that entails. Every day has the potential to be an uphill struggle against melt-downs and deliberate naughtyness or a delightful memory to be cherished forever. He’s constantly growing and changing, learning new things and developing new skills. In the last few months he’s learned to count from 1-4 (he gets shaky after that), recognize half of the alphabet and all the numbers from 1-10, name most of the colors of the rainbow, and developed a desire to be ‘helpful’ by performing small tasks. He especially likes to help fetch and carry, put things away (yes I know, enjoy it while it lasts!), and tonight he decided he wanted to feed the dogs!

The other day, the Munchkin gave me his first bit of back-talk. He’s not allowed in our office-area, where mine and my husband’s computer desks are located. But that doesn’t stop him from going in frequently, particularly when the dogs go in. So one day last week I was continuously telling him to get out of the office, at one point I had to tell him twice within ten minutes. He came back to where I was sitting, looked me dead in the eye and said “Bella office!” in an accusing tone. I should explain, Bella is the four-month-old puppy, who he adores and considers a playmate. So, if she was allowed in the office, then why wasn’t he?

Tonight, he demonstrated his burgeoning memory. He’s been taking antibiotics for several days now, which he gets in the morning and in the evening just before bed. So, we went through our usual bed-time routine (bath, teeth-brushing, diaper & pajamas, then down for a story). As I was carrying him to the story chair, he poked me and said “Medicine!” I had forgotten, but he knew to remind me.

He’s also just beginning to remember people between meetings, even when it’s a long time between, and recognize that specific names refer to specific people. He can conceptualize the people he knows even when they’re not around, and ask for them by name. This was especially heartbreaking when my step-father passed away suddenly a few weeks ago. The Munchkin has always been particularly fond of his grandpas, and Papa R was no different. He had just started to demonstrate this memory when Papa died a few short days after we visited for a small family dinner. As we drove down the driveway to my mother’s house to stay with her afterwards, he began asking for his Papa by name. It’s unbelievably hard to explain to a two-year old that the person he’s intent on seeing is no longer there. There’s no way to make him understand, so he just keeps asking. And each repetitive little demand is a painful reminder of loss.

His desire to mimic us, and especially of his daddy, is really keeping us on our toes. For one thing, we both swear. Rather a lot. And no sissy little “darns” and “craps” either unless the social setting demands it. When the Munchkin was preverbal, we never felt a particular need to censor ourselves. Unfortunately, that’s made it that much harder to remember to do so now, when he’s beginning to parrot back our words to us. Nor does it help that every time he pops up with his squeaky little “shit! shit!” I have an uncontrollable urge to giggle madly. This rather damages my credibility when I attempt to explain that he shouldn’t say that word!

It’s not just the naughty words he likes to imitate though. He copies the way we stand, the way we dress, the way we move. He’s especially keen to copy his daddy in this respect. My husband likes to lean against the kitchen counter with one leg crossed over the other while he eats his morning peanut-butter toast. Nothing delights the Munchkin more than to stand next to him, copying his pose to the last detail. Munchkin always likes to wear a hat (his especial delight is the black and red Lightning McQueen fedora, which he calls ‘The cool hat’) because his daddy does. His Papa did too, and that probably helped.

I haven’t posted about my adventures in motherhood for quite some time, so there’s an awful lot of material for stories, but I’ll stop there for now. Not everyone is as fascinated with my baby’s doings as I am, after all!

Besides, it’s high time I quit stalling and wrangled some fiction!


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