The changing of the seasons

One of the things I don’t like about myself is how far ahead I get. There are advantages, of course. I usually plan in sufficient time. I am seldom taken unawares by the next step. But in children and summer, you give up a lot by pushing to be further along than you need to be. So I pause and take seriously this feeling in the air, to make sure it is not just because I am pushing.

But no. I came back from Istanbul, the heat of summer in the Mediterranean, to discover one flamboyantly yellow birch on my commute home. It has since been joined by several maples in scarlet on quiet roads. Being that it’s mid-August, I suspect drought has advanced the season, and not just my perspective. But still. The days are hot and humid, but shorter. Night arrives earlier, and lacks the sultriness of July. A tell-tale crispness creeps over the window panes in the early morning hours. We are, by no means, into autumn, but we can see it on the horizon.

Summer child
Summer child

As for the other season? I am passing out of the baby time of life. I nursed a child for the last time nearly a year ago. One dark night when I laid Thane into his crib… that was the last night. And tomorrow? Tomorrow they are bringing my baby a bed, with no sides. He will lie unrestrained and tiny on rocket-ship sheets with a blanket and a pillow — faithful Puppy still firmly at hand, golden curls pressed against the unfamiliar mattress.

And it’s not just the bed. It’s been a while since I’ve given you a proper Thane update, but oh! What a big boy he is. At the farmshare pickup after Istanbul, I ran into a friend from church. “It was fun to see your family all in tie-dye,” she said, “But who was the curly-headed kid? And did you bring Thane with you?” She wasn’t being sarcastic, or joking. She literally didn’t recognize my Thane. He does so many big boy things. He climbs, jumps and runs. He’s very good at puzzles. He sits and reads books. He organizes his cars by colors and carries them throughout the house, lining them up. He speaks in full sentences now: “I found it!” “Car mine!” “Yummy pancakes” “Cereal and milk, please” “No, thank you”. He even comes up with new sentences. For example, the other day in the car when I started in on the “ABC” song, he said, “No! Daddy ABC!”

He can recite his numbers to ten. He sings about 90% of the ABC song. He knows “Ring Around the Rosy” and “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and sings them to himself. He tells knock knock jokes (endlessly!) at dinner. He can correctly identify all the basic colors.

He eats cereal in a bowl with milk. He snitches his father’s ice tea. He climbs into his high chair and car seat for himself. He follows instructions (when he chooses to). He will come lay his head on your knee and say “Nuggle”. He has two kinds of kisses: real kisses and “all tongue” kisses, and thinks it’s hilarious when he can give you one of the latter. Whenever he sees a cell phone, he demands to speak to “Gamma! Gamma! Gamma!” He can correctly identify our two cats by name.

He pours sand on himself first thing when he gets to a sandbox. I’ve brought him home and put him on the changing table, and had rivers of sand fall out of his pockets. He can tell you when he wants a new diaper. I’ve started him sitting on his potty chair, to begin that years-long process.

In a word, he’s not a baby anymore. He’s a toddler, a child, a boy, a curly-haired blue-eyed delight… many things, but not a baby. That season has passed.

Too big for his crib
Too big for his crib

Thane at 18 months

Today, my baby was graduated to the Toddler 1 room. No longer is he a Sweetpea. No, nor does he reside with the babies. He has been officially designated as a Toddler. And it’s true.

Thane and cars - modeling fashionable head gear
Thane and cars - modeling fashionable head gear

I’ll start off with confessions. It’s harder to “see” Thane than it was Grey at the same age, or even Grey now. Thane is in constant competition with his brother. One of these people can use words to form interested sentences. One of them cannot. One of them has a high-attention personality. The other of them, when all is well with him, happily entertains himself. So I notice that it’s much harder to focus on Thane, to see him for the delightful wonderful kid he is. Even when I try to set time aside, I find myself either appreciating the silence, or having his brother come up to see what’s going on. It’s hard to get one-on-one time with him. And as is pretty standard with 18 month olds, it can be hard to figure out what to DO together — at least after the 7th round of “Where’s Thane?!!?!” (Thane thinks wandering around with a blanket over his head is HILARIOUS!)

Thane loves his father, especially
Thane loves his father, especially

The great news is that Thane seems to be flourishing in this environment. If I sometimes rue that it’s hard to focus on my youngest because my eldest requests and requires my attention, that’s not how Thane sees it. Thane’s greatest hero is Grey. He’ll wake up in the night and ask after his brother. He perks up whenever Grey’s name is mentioned, even at daycare. He is unhappy if he knows Grey is nearby and he can’t be with him. When Grey cries (a common occurrence — we’re in the middle of another tantrum period) Thane will insist over and over on going to his brother “Gwey! Gwey! Gwey!” He’ll walk up the stairs and lurk outside his brother’s door, hitting it with tiny fists, calling his brother’s name. It may yet be early in their relationship, but the two of them seem to have a strong bond — each eager to be with the other.
Grey found a fun toy in the toybox
Grey found a fun toy in the toybox

This is not to say, of course, that there is no conflict in their relationship. Thane pays so much attention to Grey that it’s inevitable he’ll want to play with whatever Grey has. Although Thane seems to understand that some toys are not his, all chaos breaks loose when Grey is playing with one of Thane’s cars. The filial relationship is not always harmonious, but it’s still painted with overtones of loving and kindness.

Project “Use Your Own Two Feet Already” is meeting with rousing success! Thane is regularly walking from the car to the house (you don’t know what a big difference that can make until you make the trip with: one work backpack, one purse, one coffee mug, one bag of blankets for daycare, one bag clothes for the gym and two lunch boxes for daycare). He will walk about two blocks, nicely, holding hands. He can usually be propelled forward with the old chestnut of “Look, Thane! Grey’s up there! Let’s go get Grey!” He’s made tremendous strides in walking on his own, although if he sees a stroller he is still very interested in getting in it. He really loves being taken on walks, and even in his worst days will sit quietly as we walk through the neighborhood, as long as the scenery changes.

Confirmation Class of 2020 all lined up
Confirmation Class of 2020 all lined up

In further gross motor news, Thane is doing very very well with the stairs. Previous bloody incidents aside, we have great stairs for beginning crawlers — carpeted, not too steep and with landings. Thane walks up and down them holding hands, and can ascend and descend with great speed crawling. My heart always is in my mouth as he approaches the stairs, since he often looks like he’s going to try to walk down them, and his legs simply aren’t long enough to do that without toppling over. He is also becoming an expert at slides. We have a great “first slide” at church, which he gets up and down without any assistance. He likes the big slide at the playground, but I’m too chicken to permit him to use it much.
Unafraid of heights
Unafraid of heights

Linguistically, Thane is just about on target. He’s starting to work on the “ABC” song, but doesn’t get very far. He doesn’t have the patience for repetition of the letters of the alphabet his brother had at the same stage. This is ok — he has another 5 or so years before he really needs to have mastered his alphabet. He’s getting much better at mimicry, and will finally say his own name. (It’s really pretty adorable. He thumps his chest and says “Tay”). Then again, he’s also been known to call himself Marilyn (the name of his previous provider in the infant room). He knows a duck says “quack”. He says “genty” as he pets the “gat” (often quite ungently – patient animals!). A complete comprehended list might include: no (in answer to every question), apple, yogurt, applesauce, milk, water, cheese, oatmeal, cereal, blue, yellow, red, Grey, Mama, Dada, Thane, up, down, car, truck, bus, cat, puppy, ball, block, book, balloon, shoe, sock, coat, pants, diaper, bath, duck, quack, dinosaur (da-do), toothbrush (goo-ga), belly, nose, eye, ear, hair, happy, Spongebob (Bob Bob), cough-cough (he does fake coughs so I’ll say it) and probably some others. That’s not a bad list for 18 months old. He probably says many other words we don’t understand. He talks all the time, but much of it I still can’t understand.
It's hard to get pictures of his face, not just his golden curls
It's hard to get pictures of his face, not just his golden curls

Thane has exceptional patience and focus for particular tasks (when not hungry/tired/thirsty). Cars are currently the great joy of his life. He loves them. He carries them around and lines them up on any available surface. He LOVES being sat at the table to play with his trucks and toys, and sits quite nicely. He is particularly fond of my grandmother’s bells, which I have on a windowsill. He’ll sit on the old teak chest and ring and line up the bells, gazing out the window. His love-affair with dinosaurs seems only slightly diminished. He still really likes books about dinosaurs, and now points out other elements of interest in them (ducks, balls, balloons, puppies – don’t ask why these are common elements in dinosaur books. You don’t want to know.) But the cars seem the greatest theme to his play. He hasn’t yet started paying attention to screens. He very rarely sees them, since he’s usually with us while his brother is watching them in the living room. I’m just as happy, although I think I’d rather have Grey watching Sesame Street that Cartoon Network and their appalling wrestling-themed programming.

My baby is still the best sleeper I’ve ever witnessed in the age group. For Christmas, Santa gave him a rabbit we named “Mr. Bun”. He was having none of it. That rabbit’s name is and always shall be “Puppy”. You should see the joy and welcome that flash across his face when he reaches out for Puppy. Then he takes one ear in his hand, and while holding on to the ear, sucks his thumb. It’s the only time he ever does so. He’ll lie down, so content in his bed. I tuck him in and turn out the light and leave the room. Sometimes I hear him talking to himself after that, but he rarely needs attention.

What do you mean no more cake?
What do you mean no more cake?

For quite a while he gave the most hilarious kisses. He’d bring his sweet rosebud mouth next to your unsuspecting cheek and blow a very sloppy wet raspberry on it. I loved it, I confess. Made me laugh every time. Now, though, his kisses are taking on an actual kiss-like aspect, to my great regret.

When he’s tired, he’ll lay his head on my shoulder, and rest there for a brief moment. Usually, though, he’s indomitable, fearless, sturdy, adventurous, resourceful, charming, talkative and persistent. The experienced parents reading this list may note that some of these generally excellent attributes can make for, uh, challenging parenting. That’s true too. He’s nearly impossible to pull from an object he desires without simply picking him up. He’s strong, and has not yet learned that hitting is wrong. He can and will throw an epic tantrum when he believes it is called for. Sometimes, he can tire me out. But mostly, he brings me and those around him great joy.

And now, friends, he’s a true Toddler.

Thane, patiently being shorn
Thane, patiently being shorn

Edited to Add:
For my reference (since, let’s be honest, this blog is as much of a baby book as the poor kid gets), here are his stats:
Weight 27 lbs (65th %)
Height 33.5 inches (85th %)
Head circumference 19 in (65%)

1 teaspoon tylenol suspension (160 mg/5ml)

A quick update on ear-related issues

At 8:40 am on a bitterly cold January morning in New England, I bundled my 14 month old into his winter gear – with practiced negotiation passing the beloved cars from one hand to the other. Our journey was short – maybe a quarter of a mile. If it hadn’t been 15 degrees and windy with snow-covered sidewalks, I would’ve walked. Even 25 degrees and moderately clear sidewalks. But no.

I wrestled him out of the car and into the clinic. I think that until he can walk, I need to leave the coffee cup at home. If you know me, you know how much it PAINS ME to admit that there is ever a circumstance before noon that I might be parted from my beloved beverage. But 30 pound squirmy 14 month old makes it unusually challenging to keep my coffee upright.

I digress.

Thane was actually lovely in the waiting room. He played with his cars on the table “Vroom vroom!”. He lost a car behind a chair, managed to reclaim it, but was unable to extricate himself. I did not laugh, but politely extracted him. The ubiquitous office ladies with perfect manicures were unable to find our referral. I suspect this has to do with the fact it was submitted on one of those new-fangled computer thingies. My pediatrician verified that the information had been submitted and accepted, so I’m unconcerned. He has an iPhone and a brand new computer system and enough savvy to go around.

Then we went to wait in the office, and this was less lovely. The number of exciting things at boy-height made it imperative to keep him off the ground. Thane does not like to be kept off the ground. I contemplated the brightly lit “on” switch for the auto-clave and the child safety covers on the power strips and decided that someone around here wasn’t aware of just what would attract a 14 month old’s eye.

The doctor came in a very long 10 minutes later. Thane’s tonsils were pronounced “tiny”. (I think that’s good.) He looked in both ears. Shocking, he found fluid in both ears. (Duh!) He recommended surgery for ear tubes. He said that we’d schedule in 3 to 4 weeks for Boston. Done! I spent more time doing the exiting procedures than we’d spent in the exam.

And there it is. Sometime before Valentine’s Day, Thane will likely go into Boston for a very quick surgery. Apparently children are only “out” for about 10 minutes. They cut a tiny hole in the outer skin of the ear drum, vacuum up the offending liquid and insert a little tube to prevent the cut from healing over. Sometime in the next 6 – 18 months the tube will fall out of it’s own accord. The procedure is meant to help prevent ear infections (by preventing the buildup of fluid) until his face lengthens and the Eustachian tubes start going down instead of straight across.

I hope that this will make Thane slightly happier. Where he is right now, he can be a delight but… I am unwilling to take him anywhere. Dinner out is disastrous. The library was extremely hard to manage. He bolts, he pulls things off, he has a very firm idea of what he wants to accomplish and if thwarted will pitch a fit. He’s ok in the safety of our own home, or in any area where it’s acceptable to put him down and let him wander. Most of the time. Except last night, where he was 100% crying if he wasn’t being held and only 30% crying as long as I had him on my hip. Not Daddy. Not Emily. Mommy.

On the other hand, he is absolutely adorable. You should hear him say “cheese”! It’s awesome.