Oh River my boy!
How have you grown? Let me count the ways... This month you went from taking your first tentative steps to becoming a full-blown walker! Walking is your primary means of transportation now (well, that and being carried by mommy and daddy), and you become more confident and more reckless every day. You can get up from a sitting position, bend down and pick things up, pivot, duck, and I swear you're trying to run. You still fall and bump into things all the time, and you have no concept of watching where you put your feet. But you're generally so unfazed by bumps and bruises, you're more likely to laugh than cry when you tumble.
As much as I feared walking would make our life more difficult, it's actually been a great joy for all of us. Rather than following me around whining to be held all the time, you enjoy the freedom of seeing where your own legs can take you. Obviously I now need a fourth eye in the back of my head (I already have the third) to keep track of your machinations, but generally having a walker is a grand thing.
As you become more confident physically, you seem to take greater and greater risks. This brings us to Willful Toddler Episode #139:
After your father got home from work a few nights ago, we all went up to the deck to enjoy the warm evening air. Your dad and I sipped our beers, relaxing in our comfy lounge chairs while you explored the rest of the deck. Eventually you came to your River-sized lawn chair, and climbed up in it facing backwards. That in itself would have been fine, but you then proceeded to rock the chair back and forth. Anyone (besides a little stinky boy) would have understood the precariousness of this situation. When I told you to stop, you did what you usually do in these circumstances: paused, considered how serious I was, smiled, then continued what you were doing with even more vigor.
About the moment you smiled I knew what was coming, and I shouted "NO!" as I jumped up to restrain you. Of course I was half a second too late, and in that blip of time you fell with a tremendous SPLAT right onto your face. The cries were instantaneous and furious. A bloody nose and fat lip were the worst of your injuries and I'm sure it's not the last we'll see of either. It was a big shock for you, the kind of hurt that can't be fixed with a hug and a little distraction. We rocked and rocked, then nursed and nursed, and finally, you were ready to face the world again.
This is one of those moments that I feel completely justified in saying, "See? If you had listened to me..."
It is in your toddler nature to test your boundaries, to see just how far you can push me and yourself, and it's through these experiences that you will learn (for instance, not to rock in a chair...or at the very least to break your fall with your hands, goofbutt). As your father said afterward, half of me is proud to have a son who balks at authority and forges his own path, but the other half JUST WANTS YOU TO LISTEN TO ME, DAMNIT!
While you show greater and greater obstinacy in some instances, you have also become so amazingly cooperative in others. You respond incredibly well to rituals and routines. For instance, you know that when we put on your shoes and coat we're going to go outside (which you LOVE!), so you never fight me and will actually hand me a shoe to put on. If I give you something interesting to play with during a diaper change, you'll sit there patiently forever, even raising your legs and lowering them at the appropriate times. You love to help me empty the clothes from the washing machine and close the door when we're done. Perhaps the craziest example is what you do at mealtimes. Now, they're not completely mess-free yet, but at the end of a meal you give the "All Done" sign then reach out for a washcloth and wipe off your own tray. You'll even attempt to wipe your hands and mouth on occasion. It blows my mind!
I think you do most of these things because you're so interested in mimicking right now. You're learning about your world by copying what you see, and that can create some very funny moments. One favorite is that you've stared blowing on your food (you know, how dad and I might if we were going to give you a bite of something hot). Strawberries, crackers, peas...it doesn't matter if it's cold, as soon as you have a bite in front of you your mouth puckers up and you blow furiously. We have also taught you to clink glasses (or sippy cup) and "cheers!" at the start of a meal. You love doing it so much, you often raise your cup three or four times during the course of dinner.
This interest in mimicking means that your dad and I need to be really careful about what we say and do around you. Before we know it, you'll be sitting in your carseat telling other drivers that "Green means go, dumbass!" if we're not careful.
My great relief is that you have learned the need to be gentle to other creatures. It's not something you do all the time, but generally I can count on you to pet the kitties softly and nicely. You took this a step further last night when we had your cousin over. At one point in the evening you walked up to him sleeping in his mommy's lap and you began petting his leg ever so delicately. Little Finn: your new pet!
Oh, my boy, there is so much you've learned this month--how to put simple puzzle pieces together, your appreciation for big kids on the playground, a new passion for riding escalators--and I have had so much fun watching you. It's not simple or easy running around after you, showing you the world, and teaching you right from wrong, but it is incredibly rewarding.
I love you my stinky-butt!
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