Thane turns 7

My almost 6 year old
My almost 7 year old
How I still think of my Thane
How I still think of my Thane

I find my youngest son an absolute delight. Thane is an extremely sweet child. (It’s funny how that can simultaneously be true with a phase that finds the word “poop” HILARIOUS.) He is incredibly affectionate and snuggly. I accused him the other morning of stealing my snuggle pills in order to become more snuggly. Showing that he’s internalized our attempts to instill a growth mindset, he replied, “I haven’t been taking snuggle pills, mom. I’ve just been practicing.” And so he has. I’m treasuring every moment that he leans that cheek on my shoulder.

Thane loves his medallion
Thane loves his medallion

It has been interesting to watch his early inclinations and gifts flower into more grown versions. For example, he can still put together a puzzle like a boss. But that intense focus and physical understanding have been turned to more abstract things. He’s approached Pokemon with a scientific mind to put Linneaus to shame. He’ll lay out his stacks of cards sorted by type, carefully reading each, and memorizing the (extensive) evolution paths. He can spend hours with them, quietly singing or talking to himself, and laying out his cards. I’ve been thinking how nice it would be if there were, say, Geography cards that made learning something useful as easy and engaging as it is to learn something that will be less helpful when he’s 30. But his learning skills are growing, regardless of subject.

Thane loves math. He’s probably better at mental addition and subtraction than I am. He doesn’t have multiplication tables memorized yet, but has good strategies for getting to the answer. He can do some division. He is in first grade. I have sought out some mathematical problem books that are age appropriate, but not things he’ll be spending the next three years learning. So far, he’s learned how to be gracious and appropriately attentive in a class where he’s already mastered the key material, and his teachers have done a good job of supporting his interests.

Possibly my favorite moment
Possibly my favorite moment

He also loves to read. This spring, he turned the page on his reading ability and started picking up chapter books. He then methodically worked his way through all 53 books in the Magic Treehouse series. Interestingly, it was REALLY IMPORTANT to him that they be read IN ORDER. Through his hard work and attention, he made sure that happened. Since he wrapped that up, he hasn’t really started another series. But I’ve discovered he will read more or less any book I leave next to his book at bedtime. Muahahah!

One thing I’m struggling with is that Thane, well, doesn’t prefer the name Thane. I intentionally gave both my boys names that were proper and normal. The names on their birth certificates are great names, but I love their nicknames. It’s hard to even call it a nickname when many people who know my sons don’t know their proper names (although I do trot them out when they’re in trouble…). But at school, Thane has opted to go by Nathan instead. Now, I love the name Nathan. It’s one of my favorites. And so far he hasn’t asked that I change what I call him. But I find myself sadder than I would have anticipated to think of NOT calling my sweet boy Thane, even while I remember that this is exactly what I thought about when I first laid a name on my child.

Thane at Soccer
Thane at Soccer

This year, Thane has played soccer. He’s pretty decent for his age group. He’s played goalie pretty well a few times. I’ve been impressed by his attention to his task, and his physical durability. The primary things he’s working on are a) not falling down all the time b) being aggressive on offense. He is still tall for his age – at the 91st percentile for 7 year old boys. He doesn’t seem to notice pain very much. The other day he took a playground swing to the face (leading to a doozy of a black eye!) and didn’t even cry.

I mean, I'd cry...
I mean, I’d cry…

Thane loves Pokemon, board games, books and his brother. (The two of them are thick as thieves.) He is self-contained, but so loving. He can be shy (which surprises me every time), and incredibly goofy. There are few things in this world I find sweeter and more precious than this beloved child of mine.

Gaming with his daddy
Gaming with his daddy

Thane turns five

The last few minutes of a four year old

Last night I went into a darkened room, as I do pretty much every night I am home, and I kissed a pair of boys good night. I climbed under Grey’s bed to the inviting cubby where Thane has been sleeping since Tiberius took over Thane’s room as a sick-room. In that darkened corner was my four year old (for another five minutes), his hands clasped as though in prayer, lying with an already beloved birthday book next to him. I kissed his forehead. He still sounds like a baby when he sleeps.

Camera “hide and seek” with Thane during apple picking

But that’s all the baby there is left to Thane. As he comes into his fifth year, he comes into his own. Thane has a tremendous sense of purpose and drive, and a deep commitment to his beliefs and ideals. This was somewhat… trying… this year as his beliefs and ideals often included things like “Not going to school” or “Making sure you heard him about what he thinks he smelled in the middle of church” (hint: it’s never good). I have consoled myself through some of his more adamant moments by reminding myself that some traits that are very difficult to parent at four are pretty awesome in an astronaut or CEO or Nobel-winning-scientist-who-is-too-stubborn-to-give-up.

Thane’s favorite time is tickle and snuggle time.

Thane’s personality becomes increasingly clear. His greatest gift is this remarkable spatial/color reasoning. He still loves to do puzzles (he tops out around 100 pieces because he has no strategy) and create symmetrical creations with shapes on our kitchen wall. However, now that he can force his fingers to obey his will better (he’s been frustrated by their lack of obedience for years) he’s really stepped up his game with Legos. For his birthday, I got him a Lego set rated for 8 – 12. I kind of figured his brother would help him. Instead, Thane did the Entire. Thing. By. Himself. I helped him find like two pieces he lost, and put on a few of the stickers.

His smile cheers me up every time I see it.

Thane is very innovative in how he puts his Legos together. He tends to develop more three dimensional creations than his brother. He does love minifigs best, and will often assemble armies of 20 – 30. His preschooler hands undo his work nearly as often as they finish it, but he persists until he matches his mind’s creation. Just for the record, Thane’s drawings and artwork are pretty normal – he seems pretty uninterested in drawing/coloring in general.

Thane, with the Golden Ninja Lego set.

When not engaged in feats of spacial reasoning, Thane loves rough-and tumble play. His favorite thing in the whole world is “tickle and snuggle time in Mom and Dad’s bed”. He simply cannot get enough rough-housing, which would be more fun if his head couldn’t be categorized as a deadly weapon. He loves physical play. He’s been doing soccer for the last few weeks, and has done pretty well. With the advantage of a younger brother, he’s gotten to attend a few of his brother’s practices and last week actually did the entire practice with his fellow-four-year-old-younger-brother-friend.

The future’s so bright – he’s gotta wear SHADES!

Lately, Thane has been working very hard on learning to read. He has phonics down (except for period confusion between “b” and “d” – which come on, that’s hard.) His patience and diligence when he decides he’s going to read is astonishing. Just don’t let him corner you for “Hop on Pop” because that takes nearly an hour.

Thane as a Skylander for Halloween.

Thane loves Skylanders, even though he never plays – he watches his brother. He still loves Scooby Doo. He loves Digimon. He wants to be read stories about super heroes. He sings songs and makes up new words – and they’re often pretty good ones! He is constantly frenetic, and it is hard to get him to sit still for – say – dinner. But when he gets his focus on, he can sit quietly for an hour. He leads off practically every statement with “Guess what” and is desperate to get his points across. Sometimes he will insistently ask a question three times or four times, but fail to listen to all three answers. He can go across all the rings in the playground, hand over hand. He sleeps with his Puppy, worships his brother, and is 45.5 inches tall (91st percentile). Thane bounces when he walks.

Thane still holds my hold.

Happy fifth birthday, my beloved son.

You can see an album of our family adventures in October here, including a video of Thane reading.

If you want more Thane, here’s an album I’ve put together of some of his highlights this year!

Thane at Four

Thane-goggles
Thane-goggles

I find it very difficult to believe that Thane turned four today. Not because it’s impossible that my little guy is so grown up! No, but because it seems implausible that he hasn’t been four for quite some time. Thane is so big, so capable, and so unbabyish that you could say he was turning five and not bat an eyelash. Fortunately for me, four it is.

Thane’s life has been marked by series of obsessions. I wrote about this when he turned three:

One of the key attributes of Thane is his sequential obsessions. They started, I think, with cars. Following cars were stickers. Then we went to dinosaurs. Dinosaurs were replaced by puzzles (my favorite – he spent long periods quiet and was a puzzle-savant doing 60 piece puzzles at two and a half years old). Puzzles promptly fell out of favor, to be replaced by Scooby Doo. I sense Scooby Doo is waning, but have no idea what will replace it – awkward timing what with the birthday and Christmas buying spree forthcoming.

This year's Halloween Costume
This year’s Halloween Costume

I was wrong, by the way. Scooby Doo is still one of the great joys of his life. But it has been added to by, oh joy! LEGOS! The sun rises on Legos and sets on Legos. Thane patiently coaxes his fingers into practicing the fine-motor gestures required, rebuilding over and over again what his chubby digits break. He clutches the instruction manuals to his chest in his sleep, surrounding his bed with crinkled booklets like votive offerings. He stares at the instructions, willing himself to learn to read so he can master them. (Seriously, Grey is a wizard, but I have to work HARD to put together the kits!) But you have never seen a kid, on the day of his fourth birthday, spend as many happy hours with tiny plastic blocks as Thane did today. (If you gave him something else at his birthday, have no fear! He also had a blast with a bunch of the other things! I think I’m jealous of some of that great loot!)

Legos and Mythbusters
Legos and Mythbusters

Of course, this mono-maniacal intensity comes with a downside. I wanted him to, you know, play with his friends at his birthday instead of demanding to know whether they’d brought little Legos. (Ah birthday boy etiquette! So hard to teach! So important!) And getting him to do things like brush his teeth often get barricaded behind a never-ending litany of “Just let me fix this first”. (Hint: it will NEVER be fixed to satisfaction. That’s the fun.)

I love listening to him while he plays. He tells these lovely little stories. Sometimes he sings – sweetly – to himself. The worlds he builds in his mind are vast and beautiful.

Best brothers
Best brothers

Lest you start to wonder if he’s an autistic savant, I’m here to reassure you that in his non-Lego-obsessed moments (granted, a minority this month), he continues to be a very fun and engaging kid. He has some great friends at school, about whom we often hear. He and Grey have been bound tightly by their shared interest. The difference between the kid brother who breaks your Legos and a brother who looks at you with hero-worship in his eyes while he asks you to assemble his birthday Legos for him is the difference between a rocky relationship and a very solid one. I find them often, heads together, in shared conquest. (Not that they’re never fighting and tattling on each other… just less often.)

Last night as a three year old
Last night as a three year old

Thane likes granola cereal, yogurt (he still eats his first-ever solid food, whole yogurt mixed with unsweetened applesauce, nearly every day), bananas, cheese sticks, and macaroni and cheese. This would be his entire dietary intake if it were left up to him. He likes to lead off our dinner prayers, often starting us on the Doxology. He is determined to capture your attention, and will often persevere gallantly to get it, but isn’t so good about doing anything useful with your attention once he’s gotten it.

Thane is also a goof-ball, in case you were curious
Thane is also a goof-ball, in case you were curious

Thane is now 42.5 inches tall, which is about three and a half feet. He’s a solid (but unknown) weight. He’s extremely physically durable. When he falls down, he picks himself up again and moves on – sometimes even when he probably should get a bandage or something. He dresses himself, takes care of his own toileting (alleluia!), carries his dirty dishes to the counter, and feeds himself unending supplies of bananas when he’s hungry.

Thankfully, he learned a reasonable caution around water this summer. Kind of.
Thankfully, he learned a reasonable caution around water this summer. Kind of.

Thane is completely fearless. He is not afraid of the dark. He is not afraid of the high swings. Rarely does he cling or shy away. It’s almost a bad thing, how bold and confident he is. His balance, for example, is well behind his belief that he can safely walk on a wall like his brother does. He’s also very emotionally durable. He rarely “breaks down” and holds himself on a relatively even emotional swing. This is not to say that he takes thwarting well, but rather that he is steadfast in his desires and emotions.

Preparing for his journey to Uranus
Preparing for his journey to Uranus

There are still some small traces of my baby left there. He has not foresworn cuddling, and is possible cuddlier than he was this time last year. He gives me sweet kisses and hugs. He still sleeps with his best friend Puppy close at hand, and sucks his thumb. He will sit still in my lap for hours if I am reading to him (although we argue about the books: he wants Scooby Doo and super heroes, I want anything OTHER than Scooby Doo or super heroes). Tonight, he laid his tired, curly blond head on my lap while we watched a movie together, and laced his fingers in between mine. He grows up so quickly, and so well, that I treasure these times we share.

My sweet Thane
My sweet Thane

De-nial is a river in Egypt

Thane building ships
Thane building ships

Hey, so did I mention that Thane is scheduled for surgery tomorrow?

Yeah, not so much. I was in complete denial until about, oh, yesterday at 7:30 pm. (No particular reason why then, but I finally admitted that why yes! My little baby boy was headed under the knife on Thursday.) You know the reason why, a hydrocele. It’s a pretty standardish operation, but has the usual nerves associated with general anesthesia. Also, that’s the area of the body that has a lot of blood vessels, as well as some things he may find important when he grows up.

I have no idea what to expect for a recovery. Dr. Internet varies in his estimate between 2 – 3 weeks for light activity to almost immediate. I suspect Mr. Roughhousing Is My Hobby Thane will probably be hard to keep quiet past a day or two. Tomorrow morning, at some time to be determined, I will pack Thane into the car without offering him breakfast. (He will be confused. I am adamant about breakfast.) We will take him to the hospital (how lucky we are to live close to a pediatric surgical powerhouse of excellence! In this case, Children’s Hospital). We will dress him in scrubs. I have done this before, but I’m not sure it gets easier with practice. This time, he’ll understand more.

Grey is already worried. Combined with a refresher on mortality thanks to Magic, he’s worried about his brother. He would like you to know that he is a caring person, who takes care of people who need it: even strangers. He moped through class yesterday because of this, and I got a note home from the teacher. (I WAS going to tell her the day of the surgery, since I figured he’d need support then, but I didn’t plan on sending a note today.)

I know the odds, and therefore try not to worry. But I can’t help thinking about surgical mishaps, general anesthesia, infection rates and hospital-reared super-bugs. And when I lay those aside, I worry about “preschooler without breakfast waiting in a hospital waiting room for heaven-knows-how-long” and how one takes care of said preschooler after surgery, and what exactly this is going to do to our already-rather-unsuccessful potty training progress.

Ah well. There it all is. I’ll let you know how it goes tomorrow.

Thane at Three

Thane's school pictures - last year and this year
Thane's school pictures - last year and this year

Having told you about the person Grey is at six, I thought I’d enlighten you on Thane at three. First, the physical. Thane is 39 1/2 inches tall (3 feet and 3.5 inches) and 35 pounds. By my admittedly unprofessional analysis, that makes him 95th percentile for height and about 75th percentile for weight. He has glorious golden curls, which are currently way too long and have gotten California-surfer-boy unkempt. The angelic aspect of his curls and features is much moderated by the fact his face is never, ever clean. It takes about 20 seconds between washing his face and having it somehow, miraculously get dirty. Thane is a sturdy child. Currently one of Thane and Grey’s favorite games involves Grey wearing a blanket and making ominous “boo” noises while chasing Thane around the house. Oh! The thumping and squealing! Thane is actually a bit stronger than you really want in a just-turned-three-year-old

Thane subsists on a diet of entirely protein. He loves, cheese, meat, bacon, butter and yogurt. He disdains not only vegetables, but most carbohydrates too, making me wonder if he really is my son. He magnanimously makes exceptions for processed sugar, of course. In fairness, he also like applesauce and bananas. You probably don’t care about how food emerges from the other end, but I’m happy to report that Thane is 80% potty trained. He goes whole days dry (including naps!). He’s finally crossed the wonderous #2 bridge. If my memory serves, he’s way ahead of where his brother was. I think it is plausible that I will never buy another diaper for my children. (Nighttime pullups being an entirely different category, of course.)

Thane making a frog
Thane making a frog

You intellectually know, before you have children, that they are different from each other. This is very different from actually having children who are different from each other. I think this makes it harder for me to notice, or believe, some things that are true about Thane. One of the key attributes of Thane is his sequential obsessions. They started, I think, with cars. Following cars were stickers. Then we went to dinosaurs. Dinosaurs were replaced by puzzles (my favorite – he spent long periods quiet and was a puzzle-savant doing 60 piece puzzles at two and a half years old). Puzzles promptly fell out of favor, to be replaced by Scooby Doo. I sense Scooby Doo is waning, but have no idea what will replace it – awkward timing what with the birthday and Christmas buying spree forthcoming. It’s also awkward because other people pay attention to what he likes (oh, he loves puzzles!) and get them for him. Of course, he’s moved on. I have no idea what to recommend for Christmas.

One of the things everyone comments on about Thane is his verbal ability. Thane speaks clearly, with complicated sentences and wide vocabulary. What people do not understand about this is that Thane is so verbal because he practices. All. The. Time. And he doesn’t practice listening, he practices talking. In fact, his listening is so questionable, that I even had his hearing checked. (It was fine.) It is really fun to listen to him talk, or tell a story.

Thane loves books. One of his favorites is Anansi the Spider. He also adores these awful Scooby Doo books which he checks out of the library every single Library & Pizza night and insist that that’s what I must read to him. Since my rule is that I read whatever Thane wants on library pizza night, I’ve had ample opportunity to work on my Shaggy voice.

My littlest boy likes to sing, and talks a lot about music. He has a pretty nice voice for a preschooler. He also likes “playing piano”. He often demands songs he knows doesn’t exist, “Sing the Anansi song!” But at night he always asks for “Star of the County Down”. He has a good memory, and knows all the words to lots of songs. He also remembers all the words to prayers. Listening to his rendition of the Lord’s Prayer is very sweet.

There are so many things that make a Thane. He still loves his Puppy (who is a bunny rabbit). He loves his pink Dora sunglasses. He tries to shape reality with his words, “I AM seven years old!” or “It IS Monday!” He snuggles with us every morning at exactly 6:45. He wants to do whatever his brother is doing. He contains multitudes of words. He is a joy and a delight.

My boy
My boy

Thane is Two

One of my coworkers had a Diwali invitation up on his screen today, and I was reminded. It was Diwali the night Thane was born. One of the attending nursing students at the birth was from Kerala, and between contractions I wished him a happy Diwali. I thought it a good omen that my son was born during the festival of lights.

My sweet Thane is a light. He is a wonderful and joyful child. Knowing this post was coming, I’ve been thinking about what I want to tell you — tell him — about who he is at two.

My little man

The first thing you notice is the language. Thane is a talker. And talker. And talker. He has a remarkable vocabulary and command of language for a two year old. He is constantly commenting on the world around him. In the car, he’ll comment on the cars he passes, “Bu van! White truck! Red Essyoovee!” He clearly expresses what he wants, “I need the blue marker! I need the blue marker!” He will always repeat himself until he is satisfied or you have made it clear you have heard him. When he wants to know the name of something, he will often ask “What does this mean?” If he locates something he likes, he’ll proudly announce, “I found it!” He will learn the names of things often after hearing it only once — he remembers when you tell him what it is. He knows all these incredibly random words too — every weird animal in his stupid Young Einstein’s ABC book, the sounds every animal makes. I can understand pretty much everything he says, and he understands most everything I say. This whole verbosity can actually be kind of tiring. He has a second child’s persistence in being LISTENED TO and will repeat himself until you take the time to truly pay attention to what he’s telling you. “Yes, Thane, that is a blue car.” But there’s nothing like having him walk up to you, thumping at every step, wearing your shoes, then have him crack a grin and tell you, “Dese Thane’s shoes!”

Thane is a young man of great passion. He loves cars with an unflinching adoration. He will wander through the house, with as many Matchbox cars as possible pressed to his chest. (Note: He usually organizes his collections of cars around colors — so he’ll carry all red cars or all green cars.) He loves his books of cars, unlike his parents who loathe and despise his books of cars and attempt to hide them where he will not notice them. While cars are his primary passion, he also really likes books. One of his birthday presents was an ABC book of construction vehicles. After I’d read it to him, he took it with great authority and said, “Thane read dis book now.” He likes construction equipment and putting things into things. He enjoys throwing balls in the backyard and running around and giving me heart attacks by trying to run and jump and slide like his big brother.
Smiley guy!
There are so many things that are important about him. Perhaps I should move to bullet format:

  • He has the cutest, most amazing golden curls ever
  • He is obsessed with his Scooby-doo lunch box
  • He eats huge breaksfasts — usually shovelling the cereal in with his hands
  • He loves water to a degree that scares my husband and me. Even when he submerges his head for a considerable time, he is completely unafraid. He will stay in the bathtub until he is a prune.
  • He loves talking on the phone with “gamma”
  • He’s a singer. He will sing “Old Macdonald Had a Farm” for hours, with multiple animal noises. He hates new songs, though, and will firmly tell you “No, thank you!” if you attempt to expand his repertoire
  • (

    From October2010

    )

  • He will insist he is right, past your willingness to argue, “No, dat a bu car!” (No, it really isn’t. It’s a black car!)
  • He firmly believes that car is HIS
  • He still goes to sleep like a dream. I know better than to think that is anything but sheer luck.
  • He has two friends, Puppy (who is a bunny) and Grover. They are his comfort and stay as he sleeps.
  • He sucks his thumb to fall asleep. No other time.
  • He’s incredibly tough. He falls down and gets right back up.
  • He hero-worships his big brother, whom he ALWAYS calls “Brother Grey” (never just Grey)
  • If he sees you getting your coat on, he’ll put his coat on too. Half the time, even when we’re not going to school, he insists on carrying his Scooby Doo lunchbox.
  • He’s my snuggle bug. I’m the only person he usually snuggles, but I’ll take it.
  • He is my persistent, singing, playing, happy son, and I love him with my whole heart.

    Happy birthday, Thane!

    Super hero brothers
    Super hero brothers

    Thane at 15 months

    Thane had his 15 month checkup today. First, the stats.

    His right ear actually looks pretty ok, which is a little frustrating given that he’s headed in for surgery next week. At least his left ear looks bad, still.

    Weight: 15lbs 5oz (60th percentile) — this shocks me. I could’ve sworn he was over 30. Dude is heavy.
    Height: 32 inches (75th percentile)
    Noggin: 19 inches (80th percentile)

    He seems developmentally right on target, in social, verbal, gross motor and fine motor skills. He got three shots (H1N1, MMR, Dtap/Hib).

    Thus, the nitty gritty. But when it comes to the larger question, “Who is Thane”, I’m still in the course of discovery.

    Thane is determined. His attention span is breathtaking for a 15 month old. When there is an object of his desire, it is very difficult to distract him or dissuade him. He will crack out his increasing verbal skills, as well as his super-expressive body language to get his point across. Tchz. Tchz. TCHZ! (Cheese)

    Words are entering into his world. He will (sometimes) follow simple instructions. For example, if he’s clinging to my leg I can sometimes rescue myself by saying “Car!” or “Ball!” and pointing. And off he goes to get the car or ball, before returning to cling to my leg. He seems to understand many simple instructions, although I always forget he can and don’t use them enough. Regular residents in his vocabulary include: car (he says this ALL THE TIME), book, ball, milk, cheese, cookie (it only takes once….), yogurt, Grey, mama, dada, dinosaur, vroom, up, down, puppy, woof woof. Other periodically expressed words are: blue, noodles, one, two, three, various letter names, leche and agua. He’s getting much better about repeating words back to me. I think he’s hearing much better right now, and I really think he wasn’t hearing well before.

    Physically, Thane is the little engine that could. It’s almost impossible to change his diaper. He turns and thrashes and kicks. Not my favorite part. He climbs the stairs. He climbs chairs. He LOVES being up high, and will often demand to be put up on the couch. Then he’ll get down. Up up! Down. Up!!!! He stacks blocks beautifully, and will spend several hours carting around between 2 – 4 little Matchbox cars, carefully passing them from hand to hand, and holding them against his chest. He’s distraught if he loses one of them, and remembers. He loves using (or attempting to use) spoons and forks when I’m feeling courageous enough to let him have them. He eats whatever the rest of us are eating. He loves loves loves playing with water, and will often experiment with the milk served at dinner, to my chagrin. The bathtub is a haven of joy. He is much more patient in the car than Grey ever was, often just clinging to his beloved cars.

    The brotherhood of Grey and Thane is an increasing delight to me. Grey plays really beautifully with Thane. Today Grey was blowing on his belly, making him laugh. Then he was playing peek-a-boo with Thane’s socks. Grey often plays much rougher with Thane than I would, but Thane always just laughs and laughs. I’m really struggling, with Thane, to see him as a small person instead of a baby. Grey is way ahead of us in treating Thane as an autonomous person. Last night, Grey decided Thane was hungry, got a cheese stick out of the fridge, unwrapped it and gave it to his brother (after asking me for permission). I mean, how awesome and useful is that? The boys love chasing each other around the house, although there are also the inevitable conflicts when Boy 1 has a toy that suddenly looks fun to Boy 2.

    The other night, Grey decided he was a puppy (hardly an unheard of event). As “Puppy” helped me brush Thane’s teeth, Thane started saying “puppy” too, and then “woo(f) woo” just like Grey’s little barks. For a couple minutes, I had two little puppy-boys cavorting around my feet. It was awesome.

    As I got dinner ready, Thane was looking particularly cute so I grabbed my cell phone to take a quick Grandma-picture. As I lined it up, Grey came around the side of the high chair and give his brother a quick, sincere hug. I couldn’t wish for a more fun family.

    The boys, as they are
    The boys, as they are

    Ages, stages and pictures

    I think that when you have two children, they end up being a sort of behavioral teeter-totter. Is one of them being angelically delightful? Prepare for the other one to be in one of those phases.

    Grey is being angelically delightful. I think you know what that means.

    Grey, the prepared painter
    Grey, the prepared painter

    But first, let’s talk about that delight. It’s really amazing to watch your infant become a little person. The astonishing thing to me is how long a path it is to being a completely independent person (or having your mom able to see you as such). Let’s see, some of the awesome things Grey’s been doing include:

  • Feeding the cats without being asked. I know, if you have larger people that doesn’t sound like a huge chore. But for a four year old to remember his job and do it correctly without nagging is pretty fantastic.
  • Telling knock knock jokes. Really, really, really bad knock knock jokes. Here’s an example of a Grey knock knock joke.
    Knock knock.
    Who’s there?
    Banana cow eating milk
    Banana cow eating milk who?
    Banana cow eating milk with bread and jam in its nose (riotious laughing)

    I’m trying to teach him to say “Non-sequitur cow” for the who’s there bit, because it would make his truly da-da-esque punchlines actually funny.
  • Being polite. There are pleases and thank yous. He often does what he’s asked cheerfully. I can’t tell you how awesome polite is, when your child has trained you for epic pouting tantrums. It’s just so…. nice.
  • Learning how to play the game. Both literally and figuratively. He’s been playing a lot of games lately (thank you, oh long-suffering Corey), and he’s starting to do cool things like follow the rules. Next up is losing gracefully.
  • Asking us questions about our day. Yesterday as we sat down for dinner, Grey said, “So, daddy, how was your day at work?” and listened to the answer. So cool.
  • Not throwing fits. For example, every day twice a day (on work days) it is time for him to turn off his DS and give it to me (since he only gets it in the car). I was figuring we’d spend several weeks where he’d lose his DS every other day as he discovered that pitching a fit about turning over the DS = not getting it next car trip. But instead, I’ve had to do that about twice. He often turns it off of his own volition as we turn onto the correct street and says “Here mom!” in a cheerful voice. The MIND BOGGLES. Moreover, I will have you know that he defeated the big Penguin in Kirby. FYI.
  • Having opinions about his clothes. The other day he declared the blue striped shirt I presented him with as insufficiently awesome. He emerged from his room wearing:
    -Red Spiderman socks
    -Blue sweatpants with a red stripe
    -A yellow Spongebob shirt where Spongebob is has Groucho glasses on that says “Incognito”.
    He declared himself awesomely attired for the day.
  • Loving his brother. He loves to give Thane hugs. He asks to please play with Thane. He often manages to find a way to redirect Thane’s attention when the same toy is desired. He watches to make sure that Thane isn’t doing something forbidden. When Thane is fussy (see also: all the damn time lately), he will dance around and make silly faces and play peekaboo to try to make him laugh instead. What a joy to watch
  • So Grey is largely awesome.

    And then Thane. Oh Thane. Oh my sweet son, my joy and my delight. I hope we all survive this stage. I remember this stage. This is the stage I hate. With passion. And prejudice. This is the throwing food and screaming phase, the I-want-to-open-the-kitchen-cabinets phase, the everything-goes-straight-in-the-mouth phase.

    First, the good. After a month-long pause, Thane is acquiring and using new words again. I think I’ve figured out why I’m having such trouble tracking his language (well, other than the other person talking non-stop about “Banana cows with milk in their noses”). When Grey was this age, I’d get down at eye-height and say, “Grey, can you say nose? Nose? Can you say nose?” and Grey obliging would say “no”. Thane, on the other hand, is having none of that. I’ll get down and point at his protuberance and say, “Thane, can you say nose? Nose? Can you say nose?” Thane will give me a look of utter disgust, attempt to wrench my mouth open with his fingers so he can find out what’s in there, and say very distinctly and clearly, “Ma ma”. I don’t know how to interpret this. Does he not know what a nose is? Is he confused about the difference between HIS nose and MY nose? Or does he totally know what a nose is and how to say it, but lacks the dramatic motivation to deliver his line? Or is “ma ma” his way of telling me, uh, something? Anyway, the key is to listen in context for appropriate words. I have several witnesses who will vouch to the fact that when they gave Thane something (like a bit of turkey), he clearly said “Thank you”. (Or, you know, “day do” which is practically the same thing in 12 month old).

    But language and lack there-of plays a huge role in why he’s so frustrating. He can’t tell me what he wants. It’s much harder for him to grab my full attention, in competition with his brother, when one person is saying something fascinating about “Banana cows moo coffee” and the other one is simply screeching unpleasantly. I have a sneaking suspicion that the solution to this might be baby sign, but I’m not really sure when we’d have time to teach it to him. It might be faster just to wait until he starts talking more.

    The hard part about this stage is the screeching. He’s on the floor and screeching because he wants to be picked up. He’s happily conducting investigations into the pot cupboard and screeching because I remove him. He’s bored with Cheerios and screeching as he flings them with great prejudice to the floor. (This is the stage where having a dog is awfully handy!) He’s still hungry and screeching for some as-yet unknown desired food, which he then proceeds to discover has an interesting texture and squishes in his hand before flinging to join the cheerios. In his car seat, he flings aside his toys and screeches protest at his confinement. In my arms being held, he screeches and flings himself down with his considerable weight because he sees something he wants to play with. He hits my face, and screeches when I correct him. He sees his brother playing with something cool and screeches with desire. Changing his diaper or attempting to put clothes on him is a complete nightmare. He twists and writhes without ceasing. He’s REALLY STRONG and you have to apply considerable force if you’re going to physically control him. And he’s 12 months old, which means there’s no way to verbally control him. And he’s very focused, which means distraction techniques are not particularly effective with him. He turns and turns and turns (and screeches) as you try to strap him into his car seat. It’s completely exhausting.

    By the time I hand him over to Rubertina in the morning (his new favorite thing is closing the door on my face because he loooooooves Abuela), I’m not particularly sad to be parting.

    How could anyone as cute as me ever be annoying?
    How could anyone as cute as me ever be annoying?

    The worst part is that his investigative and easily frustrated current stage make it very difficult to do things. Invite to a friend’s house? Grey will be lovely and behaved, but Thane is a small, destructive tornado. Trip to a museum? How will we deal with Thane? Playdate? Grey can go but I won’t inflict Thane on anyone. For example, I’d like to take Grey to the grocery store to buy the things our church is providing for the Thanksgiving food baskets. But I lack the courage and energy to take Thane too. This might mean it doesn’t happen.

    When I was in labor with Thane, I found that prior experience was actually a hindrance. As I went into transition, I knew how much hurt and hard work was ahead of me, instead of simply going with the flow and taking each moment as it comes. I suspect I’m doing a similar thing now. If I recall, this difficult pre-verbal stage lasts nearly a year. Grey started getting awesome to do things with about the time of his third birthday. That’s two years from now. So instead of taking Thane as he is, I keep looking ahead to post-screeching phases. I think that doesn’t help me be a great parent to him now.

    Writing this all out, I’m starting to think that we need to provide Thane with some more physical activities. Maybe that screeching is just excess energy that doesn’t have a good direction. The other thing is that maybe I SHOULD work with him with sign. I know a lot of people who have sworn by the calming effects of giving a child a way to communicate before they can coordinate their lips and tongue to the efforts. At worst, it might give us some one on one time that can be hard for him to acquire.

    I love my curly-haired, crinkly-nosed Thane-boy. I’d like to enjoy spending time with him. One of my delights is when he’s both loving and playing. He’ll play with a toy, come over for a hug leaning his curly head into my chest, and then after a calm moment go back to his play. What a joy!

    Well, now that you’ve gotten through all this (ah, how you wish I had an editor!), I have a reward for you. Here are some pictures of our family this Fall!

    http://picasaweb.google.com/fairoriana/FamilyFall09?feat=directlink

    Thane Turns 1 Year Old

    A year ago at about 9:30 in the morning, in a room crowded with nursing students and onlookers, my midwife placed a white-covered, howling baby boy on my belly. Through my own tears of joy, I found myself swearing fealty to him, telling him I loved him over and over as they wiped him off and I pulled him up to my arms.

    There are moments that stick with you. He will never remember, and I will never forget.

    Nathaniel Augustus Flynn — my sweet Thane-boy. What a gift you are, and what a gift our year together has been.

    The general outlines of what a child learns in their first year of life are the same. They lift their head. They smile at you for the first time. They reach out to play with a toy. They roll over. They sit up. They stand. They crawl. They walk. They call you by name. For a healthy child, the outlines are the same — like lines in a coloring book. But oh the vivid differences that show up!

    Thane is my book-reader and belly-sleeper. He’s a nose-crincher and cat-lover. Thane is my thumb-sucker. Thane is my independent son. Thane is my patient child. I hear him tell himself stories in the morning in his crib. When he plays, he’ll every-so-often come over and grab on to your leg, lay his cheek against you and suck his thumb. This lasts for a few seconds of love and reassurance, and then he is back to his play again. At night when he goes to sleep (which he does like an absolute dream, night after night), he refuses to lie down until he’s turned on his crib bubbler. If you turn it on, he’ll look reproachful, turn it off, and turn it back on again. Car rides are far more peaceful than I remember them being at 1, as he gazes out the window, reads his books, and removes his socks.

    Thane is, I think, destined to be a gentle giant. For all his quieter ways (and quieter is a comparison — he’s not quiet), when Thane makes a decision he’s very hard to stop. I fear dirty diapers, because Thane twists like a muscular corkscrew on the changing table. He’s far more interested in the “Ba! Ba!” (book) over there than lying down! He is so strong, it’s hard to credit.

    Thane follows the cats through the house and eats their catfood if not supervised. The other day in just a moment’s inattention, I came to find him drinking (surprisingly skillfully) out of the cat’s water dish while eating their kibble as though it was popcorn. The cats were rather put out.

    Thane is persistent in his skills. I watched him try no fewer than 20 times to both put the Weeble on the Weeble-horse AND spin it, until he finally mastered the effect he desired. He was patient, thorough and unhurried.

    When Thane smiles, his noses crinkles up.

    Thane is being cautious with language. We will hear a word once or twice and then it will disappear. The consistent words are “Book”, “Mama” and “Dada”. When I ask him to say his own name, “Can you say Thane?” he gives me a reproachful look and says with great emphasis “Mama”. I’m sorry son. I like your name. I know that only native English speakers over the age of 7 can say it, but I still like it.

    Thane loves loves loves water. He has no fear of it. He loved swimming this summer. He loves taking baths. He will stay in the water until his skin is blue and he’s all shivers, and weep bitter tears when he has to come out.

    Thane gets this amazing expression on his face when he’s trying to explore something by tasting it. I’ve seen him bring his mouth down to experience the busy ball bopper or the carpet or the bathwater, with this same intent expression.

    Thane and his brother get along wonderfully, although they do still seem to inhabit largely separate worlds. Grey makes Thane laugh with the least thing he does. Although they periodically have their differences over toy-possession, Thane and Grey seem to really like each other.

    Thane learned to walk so he could carry toys in his hands as he wandered from room to room. I’m pretty sure that’s the only reason he saw a point.

    Thane’s favorite food in the world is cheese. He also loves yogurt, but wants to feed himself. He loves bits of meat and enjoys gnawing on pizza crust. He’ll inhale a pair of fried eggs. He finds Cheerios vaguely insulting and expresses his disapproval by sending them all to their fate on the floor.

    Thane enjoys fingerpainting with the milk from his bottles.

    Oh Thane. How I love your golden curls, your disproportionate smile, your crinkled nose. One year has been wonderful. May we be mother and son for many, many more.

    Thane is born
    Check out the size of those feet!
    Check out the size of those feet!

    Thane at one month

    Thane was a brunette
    Thane was a brunette

    Thane at two months

    One of Thane's first smiles
    One of Thane's first smiles

    Thane at three months

    Thane and the inauguration
    Thane and the inauguration

    My beautiful boy
    My beautiful boy

    Thane at four months

    Thane begins to play
    Thane begins to play

    Thane at five months

    He's starting to look like Thane here
    He's starting to look like Thane here

    Thane at six months

    Happy Thane-boy
    Happy Thane-boy

    OK, so I missed seven months. So sue me.

    Increasingly Thane-like
    Increasingly Thane-like

    Thane at 8 months

    Howdy, howdy, howdy. I'm a baby!
    Howdy, howdy, howdy. I'm a baby!

    Thane at 9 months

    Most pictures from this period are in a stroller or high chair
    Most pictures from this period are in a stroller or high chair

    Thane at 10 months

    Thane loves swings
    Thane loves swings

    Thane at 11 months

    Thane is srs reader
    Thane is srs reader

    Last night

    Nose-crinkling Thane on the eve of his birthday
    Nose-crinkling Thane on the eve of his birthday

    Thane at 11 months

    So we come to the last of the monthly updates. Next month will be the 1 year update, and after that I think quarterly will be sufficient to keep you apprised in the latest Thaneisms.

    I'm ignoring you! (But look at those curls!)
    I'm ignoring you! (But look at those curls!)

    Thane has been much, much slower to walk than I expected. It’s funny when you discover what is and is not controlled by personality with babies. The walking is totally a personality thing. Grey was desperate to walk! He SO wanted to be a big boy. Thane is much happier being Thane, and being who he is. Walking is a bit riskier than crawling, crawling is perfectly adequate for what he wants. So he crawls instead of walks — when he remembers to. He will take even 5 or 6 steps when he forgets that he isn’t walking. Of course, climbing is a whole different story. He shows no fear climbing over obstacles, with inevitable head-bonking as a consequence.

    11 months is a harder stage. Thane has started interfering with Grey’s toys. It is inevitable for a small child to desire the toy a larger child is playing with (and, in fairness, vice versa). Thane is indomitable when he decides he wants something, and no amount of distraction, removal, substitution, etc. will prevent him from pursuing his goal. These goals have a tendency to be: opening the cupboard under the kitchen sink (verboten) and playing with Grey’s toys (problematic).

    This is also the nadir for feeding the child. Thane has begun asserting his desire to control the spoon. Ah! Fateful day! This would be more welcome if he didn’t use the spoon to comb his curly locks, and if any bowl or dish placed in front of him did not become a projectile weapon. I remember this stage with dread. This is the “plan on mopping the kitchen twice a day” stage. And Thane eats a wide range of foods, but he’s PICKY about which one he wants. You can think he’s hungry, give him a piece of bread (for example) only to have it thrown repeatedly. You might think, “Ah, not hungry.” But no! He wants cheese! Or pears! No no no! Not yucky raspberries. PEARS WOMAN.

    While I’m elucidating the downsides, Thane is also Extremely Squirmy. He writhes in your arms. He has the strength of a leviathan in the body of an otter attempting to recreate a Pollock in yogurt on the kitchen walls. He does this unlovely thing, especially in the evenings and especially with me, where he’ll cry to be picked up and when picked up he’ll squirm unhappily (pulling hair and poking faces the while) and when you put him down he’ll weep bitter tears at your betrayal of him. I still can’t figure out what he does want when he does this, other than bedtime.

    Thus for the downs. Now the ups.

    I have never met a baby who liked books better than Thane does. Reading to him will pull him out of a full-boil tantrum. He will happily engage himself for like 20 minutes flipping through the rapidly proliferating bookpiles. He turns the books rightside up and pages the correct way through the books — page by page. He’ll sometimes turn back to recheck a page, before moving on to the next book. I have an entire bin of books for him in the living room. He LOVES them. Books are his joy and his delight. They are also one of his first three words. I don’t get a clear, comprehensible “mama”, but “book” is coming out loud and proud. He actually did a chin up, supporting his entire weight in his arms, in an attempt to crawl to the top of a shelf where his book were stored.

    Thane has developed these heartbreaking golden curls. He never, ever looks NEAT, but I don’t think I can bear to part with those golden locks for some significant time yet.

    Squirm aside, Thane is much more of a snuggler. When he is tired, he’ll curl up on my chest, suck his thumb and lay his head against me. I cannot describe for you how wondrous it is to have your child happily ensconced on your chest — even if it’s just for 30 seconds before he’s ready to go again.

    I think I better make peace with my chin
    I think I better make peace with my chin

    When he is unhappy, it’s a near 100% solution to put Thane in the stroller and go on an adventure. His patience for being carted around in a stroller or baby backpack is stunning. He likes, I think, variety and change.

    We have this Weebalot castle (we’ve had a ton of fun bringing out Grey’s old toys from this age) in Thane’s room. He ADORES it. To my surprise, he’s figured out how to play with it to make the Weebles fall down the curving slide. He’ll send them down over and over again. Grey always liked to make the music play, but Thane likes the slide best. I also got out the Busy Ball Popper ATTENTION PEOPLE WONDERING WHAT TO GET A BABY FOR ITS FIRST BIRTHDAY. This is the bestest toy EVER. Both boys are having a (ahem) ball chasing down the balls and playing the songs and figuring out what else they can stick down the popper. I only wish that you could buy spare balls, half of ours inevitably having gone walkabout in the last three years.

    Fall down!
    The blocks fall down!

    Thane is LOVING peek-a-boo. I take a blanket and place it over his head. I ponder, “Where’s Thane? Where did Thane go?” Thane pulls the blanket off his head. “There’s Thane! Hi Thane!” Thane will then lean his head down trying to pull it under the blanket. It’s terribly funny. He can, of course, keep this up for longer than the adult attention span, always delighted to be found at last!

    My youngest’s sense of humor is developing. He and I were chatting this morning at breakfast. “Dada” he said. I pointed to myself, “I’m mama! Can you say ‘mama’?” He got, I swear, this mischievous look in his eye and a snaggle-toothed grin and deliberately said, “Dada”. Kid’s got timing — I ‘ll give him that!

    Thane is a fantastic sleeper. He’s always gone to bed easily. And by easily I mean you read him three books, kiss his curly little head, put him in his crib, say a quick prayer, cover him over with his blanket and leave the room. Done. Not a whimper. He will only wake up if he’s constipated (we still are struggling to manage the perfect dose of apple juice to be regular but not over-regular) or if he’s hungry. He usually sleeps through the night now.

    Thane and I are still clinging to one last feeding. Every night I wonder if it’s the last, but so far it continues. He wakes up or I wake him up right before I go to bed, and nine-tenths asleep he nurses and I hold him. I’m not sure how much milk he’s actually getting. Some, I know. Perhaps a little immune boost, but mostly a chance for me to hold and savor my baby as he quickly departs babyhood for the land of boyhood.

    Abuela says we need to buy size four diapers — that he’s getting too big for size three. She’s right of course. But oh!

    When Thane was a baby, I got a hundred fantastic pictures of him, and few of the blur-his-brother. Now, I cannot take a good picture of Thane. He moves fast. His nose is always snotty. He always has some food set aside for later behind his ear. He’s snaggle-toothed and drooling. He doesn’t smile on command. And anytime he sees me take out the camera, he comes at a baby-run to investigate and oversee the proceedings. So you’ll have to make do.

    Walking to take custody of the camera - a blur as usual
    Walking to take custody of the camera - a blur as usual