Survival of the fittest

My long holiday weekend had a lot of ups and downs. There were definitely awesome points: watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade in pjs as a family, having Thanksgiving dinner with good friends (who also happen to be great cooks!), the town tree-lighting, actually cleaning out some of the junk-traps that every home hosts (surprisingly therapeutic), hosting neighbors for pot-pie and commiseration on Sunday night.

Thane LOVED our friend's wagon.     Sadly, Adam hated it.
Thane LOVED our friend's wagon. Sadly, Adam hated it.

But oh. It was not restful. And the cause of my unrest and stress has a five digit name. Thane.

Good thing he has glorious curls.

But this phase is killing me. I think I’ve already complained about it once. But hey, my blog. I get to whine. I’ve taken him to the doctor twice in two weeks because anyone this whiny MUST have like a double ear infection, right? Twice in two weeks he’s been sent home. Patient, long-suffering abuela actually told me the other day that he “had a tough day” and that she was very glad she only had two kids that day because Thane was taking 100% of her attention. This is the woman who took care of about 12 kids through knee replacement surgery, gallbladder attacks and breast cancer with not a word of complaint. And my one year old actually got her to admit weariness. (This is entirely one-sided. Thane has lately taken to trying to shut the door in my face as I say goodbye at daycare. Today he was flinging himself from my arms in an attempt to get to abuela faster. Thanks, kid!)

Some days he just screamed and screamed and screamed. You’d pick him up. He’d scream and writhe. You put him down. His face turns blue with the world’s longest build up to ear-splitting shrieks. He’s momentarily distracted by a toy and you move (you know, get milk from the ‘fridge, open a door, anything). SHRIEK!!!!!!

Thane, screaming.
Thane, screaming.

I have little idea what’s wrong. I know two things. First, it gets better when he has Tylenol. This points to pain. And certainly he had a new tooth poke through this weekend. I have a hunch there are another one or two coming, as well. Now, my pediatrician claims that teething doesn’t hurt. I, for one, am going with anecdotal data on this one, thanks.

Second, he’s eating an amazing amount. For breakfast yesterday, my turkey-sized son (seriously) ate:
-1 cup Cheerios
-1 packet instant oatmeal
-1 cup applesauce
-1 cup yogurt mixed with one cup applesauce
-1 sippy cup milk (~1 cup)

He stopped eating because it was time to go to church, not because he slowed down in any way. He definitely seemed more cheerful after that.

Want some pizza, mom? I'm full after the donut you gave me.
Want some pizza, mom? I'm full after the donut you gave me.

So we have teething and starving.

The starving is actually harder than you think, because it’s REALLY HARD to feed a one year old. They throw food, even when they’re hungry and even when they like it. A distracting texture (hello clementines!) must be thoroughly experimented with. Does it go splat on the ground? Does it make daddy’s eyebrows turn red? How does it feel when I rub it in my eyes? This distracts the child from EATING the FOOD you are giving him even though he is STARVING TO DEATH!

Also, Thane believes it is his God-given right to have the spoon and that your facist ideas about which end goes in the mouth are impinging on his civil liberties.

So actually, knowing he might be hungry is less helpful than you might think.

There was this moment Saturday when Adam and I were looking at each other thinking…. just another day and a half. We just have to make it a day and a half…. This is not a typical reaction to a four day weekend.

I think the golden curls may be an evolutionary tactic. I’m trying to figure out how the recreational screaming was selected for. Maybe it scared off or annoyed to death predators? Oh well. We survived. He survived. And hey! Christmas time! Let’s see how much fun we’re going to have keeping him from eating the tree!

What are you talking about mom? I'm perfect!
What are you talking about mom? I'm perfect!

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!

    When in doubt, post pictures

    So I’m still in a post-Mocksgiving recovery period. For the record, it was 28 adults and two very needy small people. Work is really really busy, so you’ll have to just wait for updates. But Mocksgiving! It was great! OK, there was a minor turkey-related disaster, but we were smart and figured out how to get the thing cooked before serving it and so far no one is complaining of food poisoning, so I think we’re good!

    Last night I had a blissful few hours off from parenting and cleaning up, thanks to my husband. I spent that time getting about 650 pictures off my camera, captioned, organized, face-tagged and trimmed down. I want you to know they only went back to Columbus Day. One month. 650 pictures. Oof.

    Anyway, here’s the first set! This is Thane and Adam’s shared birthday, and Mocksgiving!

    Healthy Boys

    Today was the day of our well-child pediatrician appointments. I’d been hoping my husband could come, but he had an offsite meeting this morning so it was me.

    First, the stats.

    Grey is 38 lbs (70th percentile), 41 inches (70th percentile) and has a BMI of 15.9 (60th percentile). So apparently vomiting twice a day for a month hasn’t hurt his growth. That’s actually a bit on the short side, percentage wise, for him historically so I suspect he may be getting ready for a growth spurt.

    Thane is 23lbs 1 oz (55th percentile) and 31.5 inches (90th percentile). I’m actually surprised that his weight is so low. The kid feels like someone stuck lead bars in his diapers. Or maybe that’s just because he squirms so much.

    Both boys got vaccines. Grey is, sadly, old enough to anticipate the shots with fear. Happily, he got the nasal H1N1 vaccine. Also the seasonal flu and the standard 4 year vaccines. Sadly, there was no H1N1 available for Thane, him being too young for the nasal vaccine. I need to bring both boys back in four weeks for a flu shot booster, so if I can’t get him H1N1 before then, he’ll get it then. Now if only I could find even a seasonal flu vaccine for myself! I tried and so far I’ve failed.

    Developmentally, both boys are fine, which is not surprisingly. There was actually a _moment_ though. Grey has been reading to us for a while. But of course, at some point we’ve read him all the books, or read them to Thane. So it’s very likely that he knows the books from context. (Last night he read us “Pajama Time”.) He can do the Boyntons. He can do Hop on Pop. While I was talking to the doctor about Thane, he picked up a book. When I finally took note of him, he was reading Go Dog Go to himself. Correctly. With even some interpretation in his reading.

    He’s never seen that book before in his life, as far as I know.

    So that’s it. I’m calling it. Grey is a very beginning reader, of course, but he is officially a reader.

    And Thane. Oh my Thane. After my love-song of yesterday, I suppose it would be inevitable you’d be a pill today. I think I miss my baby already. Thane is at that age. The age that you block out of your memory. The “My only goal in life is complete destruction and to eat the cat’s food”. The age where desire outstrips ability and ability outstrips judgement. Every room he enters in our not-badly-childproofed house shows clearly that he has been there, with the detritus scattered throughout. He does not yet know or respect “no”. Today I got angry tears that he couldn’t play with my laptop.

    I found labor with Thane harder because I knew what I was in for and could dread it better. I’m afraid this is a similar situation. It takes a long long long time to teach a child to obey your verbal instructions. We’re just starting. Grey is finally, for example, BEGINNING to clean up his own messes. So that means I have three more years of not just cleaning Thane’s, but worse yet teaching him to clean up his own.

    Have I mentioned I already miss my baby?