This is a long post, and I don’t care. I had to get this all down in case I ever forget, I can read this and remember what a great time it is in my life and how good it feels to love someone so much and be so affected by someone who didn’t exist for the first decades of my life, but who has influenced it more since than everyone else who came before put together, and almost everyone who will come after him. I actually started writing it a month or so ago, but Christmas and different things going on in my life made me want to put it up now and finish it. So here it is.
I just started writing and more and more came. Its mostly all true. I don’t know if it will mean anything to anyone else, but its pretty much all that matters to me these days. Everything I do hinges on this single fact: I have a little boy to watch out for now. And I do so with an alarming ease.
I know you moms out there are going to say “Wait until 2 1/2” or “Wait until he’s 3” or whatever, but for the last year I’ve been dealing with a 16-27 month old, and I have got to say, the terrible twos are not that terrible. Or am I just that good? I dunno, you tell me:
I have discovered the secret to dealing with a 2 year old (or there abouts). In dealing, I mean getting up with, changing, getting milk then breakfast, getting them dressed, getting them going for the day. Taking them to the park or some activity. Taking them home, putting them down for a nap. Getting them back up, doing errands or whatever needs doing in the afternoon. Having dinner. Putting them to bed. All the real stuff, not playing with him and handing him off to Mom when he’s wet or muddy.
I work from home, and the work I do perform is pretty easy and leaves me lots of free time. yet it pays the bills. I’m not rich, but we have a roof over our heads and basic cable. You’d think people around here would be glad for me, that I arranged my life so comfortably, but believe it or not, there is resentment.
However, it gives me a lot of time to be with Liam. I hate to ever send him to day-school, although I know its important for him to learn to deal with other kids. You don’t want to throw him into kindergarten not knowing what fucked up assholes most people are. Let him learn it young, right away, before they try to screw him around.
But when he does go, I hate missing even a day with him. I would hate to miss anything about him growing up. It goes so fast anyway.
I enjoy the everyday things: I give him baths. I give him medicine when he’s got a cold. I change his sheets and clean up his messes. I wake up and go to him when he falls out of bed. Sometimes I wake up and go check on him, just to make sure he’s ok. I smooth his hair and give him a kiss on the head and tell him I’m here. He puts his hand on my hand and pats it sometimes, to comfort me I guess, in case I’m sad or scared in the night.
I truly believe he thinks like that, because that’s how he is. He has a heart so big I’m afraid for him sometimes, because a big heart means you feel things deeply.
Mom does way more than I ever can, of course, let’s state that right away, but I am a real help and my assistance is probably invaluable to her. I really don’t see how she’d cope without me, but thank God she doesn’t have to, and I’m happy to do it, really. I never complain. That’s just how I was raised, thank my parents, not me, I just do what comes naturally.
I don’t think I deserve the constant flattery and rewards that come from living in such an unselfish manner. Not when its so easy for me, that really isn’t fair to other, less lucky people.
Still, I don’t boast or make a big deal about how great I am with kids or how organized and systematic my methods are, or how effective and error-free they are in execution. I let my results speak for themselves, and I’m sure his mom appreciates what a very lucky girl she is. Its so obvious, I don’t need to say it repeatedly. Once a day or so more than covers it, I’m sure she would agree.
And I’m generous: I don’t hoard my genius, I share it. I figure, the more happiness, the better world it will be for me and mine, so why not spread the love and kindness? I’m secure I’ll get my reward in the next life for all the good I’ve done in this one, I don’t even count the dozens of things I do every day to make this good Earth a better place.
The short secret is: don’t argue with a 2 year old. They have the attention span of a gnat, so when a problem arises, you can just distract them and move on and voila, catastrophe averted. Or you can be pig-headed and ignorant and ignore my advice and try to argue and reason with a two year old.
This will be labor lost. You’ll probably have to learn that on your own, but you’ll come around to my way of thinking soon enough.
His mom, who of course, knows everything about toddlers better than I do, will not rest unless she has an argument. Nothing so focuses a toddler’s mind so quickly or into such an obsessed, intense beam of concentration as being forbidden to do something.
Maybe its atavistic. Maybe touching that Christmas tree light plug harkens back to the Forbidden Tree of Knowledge and Bud (what I call him most of the time “You ready, bud?”) thinks you’re telling him not to touch it because it holds the Secret of Life that Adam and Eve found by unplugging the apple.
It must not, because he is not yet ashamed of his nakedness. He revels in it. In fact, he runs around the house recklessly yelling after getting out of the bath:
“My peeenis!! I have a peeenis!”
Anyway, arguments don’t work with a toddler. Here’s a sample argument with mom, Amy, and the child:
“Liam, don’t touch that plug.”
/Liam puts his hand on the plug and looks back at mom, grinning. He slaps the plug and puts his hands behind his back, laughing. She waits, then he puts his hand on the plug again, testing. He thinks its a game.
“What did I say? Do you want a spanking?”
“Yes,” he says, seriously. He caught the word “spanking”, and it sobered him for the battle he knows is about to commence, even if he gives an inappropriate answer. Now he knows its not a game, but a test of will-power.
“You do want a spanking? If you touch that plug you’re getting a spanking and a time out, do you want a time out?”
“Yes,” hand still frozen in place barely touching the plug.
“Ok, you’re going to get a spanking and a time out if you touch that plug. Get away from that plug now.”
/Liam snatches plug from the wall, pulling DVD player (also plugged into the dangerously over-loaded low-duty extension cord) down from the top of the TV nearly falling to the floor before I, at the ready, catch it in mid-air because I know this is going to happen. I’m not omniscient, but I’m scient.
(As an aside, I am not permitted to interfere nor speak in any way during these proceedings, because if I do, all misbehavior or failure to comply will become my fault because she’s teaching him a lesson here, she’s Mom, and there is no answer to that. I do feel bad for Liam that he doesn’t completely understand and perhaps thinks he’s supposed to pull the cord, that’s how the game is played. Anyway, now back to our story.)
“Liam Bennett R*! You are getting a spanking.”
/spanks Liam a few swats, he howls.
“Now leave that plug alone or you’ll get another spanking.”
Liam puts his hand near the plug again.
“Do you want another spanking?”
“Do you understand me? I’m going to spank your bottom if you touch that plug and then you’re going into the room for a time out and you’re not coming out until you learn to leave the plug alone.”
/Liam slowly pulls the plug and cord, DVD player slides.
“Ok time for a time out. Get in your room until you can behave.” /lifts one of Liam’s arms, swats his behind and carries him, by the arm (he’s light), to his room where he screeches at volume for five minutes straight through the crack under his bedroom door (which is right next to the TeeVee) and bangs his head on door. After a bit he quiets, and figures the coast is clear.
/Liam sticks his head out of the room.
“Ok you can come out if you promise not to touch the plug. Do you promise?”
“Are you going to leave the plug alone?”
“Liam, don’t go near that plug, do not touch that plug, get your hand off that plug – do you want another spanking and another time out?”
“You want a spanking? That’s what you’re saying? You want to be spanked?”
“Ok then, don’t touch that plug.”
/Liam puts his hand on the plug.
/Mom loses temper, lunges immediately towards the child and gives Liam a swat, jumping the gun. She startles me stumbling back out of the way, off balance, and I look at her reproachfully. The DVD player hasn’t even fallen yet, and here she is delivering the swat already.
/Liam plops down on his bottom and squalls. She sits back down, weary. He winds down, hiccupping a sob.
“Ok are you going to be a good boy now?” (leading hopefully)
/Liam, bottom lip out-thrust, runs straight over and jerks the plug out of the wall and careens off in another direction, wailing and laughing at the same time at his own clever deviousness and the spank to come, catching me off-guard. The DVD player makes it to the floor, but I catch the cord and luckily break the fall partially with my toe. Ouch.
Many spankings and time-outs and questions about behaving and learning lessons later, maybe he’ll get bored and move on. Or the phone will ring and mom will go elsewhere, and Liam will forget the plug and there will be a temporary cease-fire and hostilities will cease and our Backyardigan DVDs will play again in peace, and the hippo lie down with that pink spotted animal with the curly things sticking out of its head. I don’t know what animal that’s supposed to be.
Now, me, the dumb male, I have no need to win battles of wills. I handle things differently.
/Liam puts hand on the plug.
“Wanna play cars? This is the Piston cup, I’m going in for a pit- ‘no no no, no tires just gas!'”
“nononontiresjusgas!” /forgets the plug and rolls Lightning McQueen around on the floor with me.
“No no no, out of gas, how can I be out of gas?”
/we play cars, until he gets bored and throws the cars around the room. He has HotWheels now, not soft baby cars. HotWheels can raise a large, painful lump on your forehead if you aren’t really careful.
We do lots of things. We color until he starts flinging the colors around. We play with his blocks that are like brushes and stick together kind of like velcro, except they are just a tiny bit beyond him yet and he has trouble making them stick. He mostly enjoys pulling apart things I make for him, like airplanes and houses. And he can fling them like mad.
A lot of the time he plays by himself there on the floor while I read and write on the computer. These are pleasant times, I can do my work while listening to him gabble and play near me, but he likes to have me involved and will come over and grab a finger for me to come play with him. And like any kid, he does things that can break things or hurt himself, and naturally you have to do something about it. You don’t want him hurt and you don’t want things broken.
But I don’t go on and on with the threats and promises and never-ending time outs and etc. I’ve never hit the kid – I vow never to do so (unless, at a future date, I have a daughter and she has boys dating her. They are liable to be hit, shot or macheted).
My dad hit me, a lot, when I was a kid, but I was a bad kid and times were different then. I don’t begrudge my parents or hate them for it. I don’t think it damaged me. But I would never hit Liam.
His mom doesn’t beat him, of course, she gives him a swat on his diapered behind. My parents used to beat us, with pain. But we were pretty bad kids, my brother and I. I don’t remember my sister ever getting beat. She was their stoolie. The stoolie never gets a beating, they have immunity built up by the many lies they’ve told on their brothers.
As I said, I’ve never hit Liam or gotten physical with him, except to jerk him a little to get his attention when he does something very dangerous, like almost touch the stove or run toward the road or something like that, and that’s mostly my own shock and fright.
“Don’t scare me like that!” is the roughest I’ve ever been on him. But that is only because he scared me out of my wits. Don’t do that kid, you’ll kill your old man one of these days.
He’s too little for me to even yell at. Mom yells all the time, but that’s not even scary to a two year old. Sometimes she uses all three names in Mom fashion. You used to know you were in serious trouble and you better listen up if when Mom did that.
Personally, I think his Mom overuses the three names thing and the kid is never going to know when he’s really in trouble if she does it all the time. She sometimes even does it joking around. Don’t toy with your weapons of intimidation, you may need them some day.
She’s pretty new to the Mom game though, and she’ll probably get the hang of it after a while. She’s got all those Mom cliches ready to go, and we kid about it. I imagine I’ll be yelling for real if I’m still around when he’s a teenager though. Teenagers are foul, nasty, lying little buggers and screaming at them is about all you can do (if my own teenage years are any indication), so I plan on doing plenty of that if I’m still kicking.
I’m getting up there, you know, and your old Dad isn’t going to be here forever. But for now, I’m a pretty mellow, cool dad to have around, and I have my health and my wind is good.
I’ve never time-outed him, or really done any punishment at all, unless you count taking things away from him that he shouldn’t have. Which I did think was punishment when I was a kid because, hey, who decides that? The parents, sure, they have an interest in you not having their cool stuff and getting some use out of it, because it just sits there and Dad never even plays the damn thing over 1/4 volume.
Anyway, I never have to punish him because he is usually pretty good for me.
I attribute it to the fact that I’m very immature and childish myself. I enjoy fart jokes, talking about poop and boogers, acting like an idiot, singing nonsense songs and dancing around like a moron. I may be screwed when he hits 3, but for now we are sympatico.
He loves me and calls out my name when I arrive on the scene, and is always so glad to see me. Sometimes he comes up and shyly gives me a hug and touches foreheads, as men do, not kiss like he does with Mommy. Its the best feeling you can ever have in the world, and yet it makes me so very sad.
He’s terribly brave, which is also scary. He’s never been really hurt bad or had anything really serious happen yet, so he doesn’t know enough to be careful. He doesn’t know how fragile and precious life is, and how something really horrible can happen in just a second. He doesn’t yet realize how much he means to us and how we worry. I hope there really are guardian angels, because kids need them.
He’s very courageous and doesn’t know fear. He’ll put his face right up to barking (friendly, that I know is friendly, like my parents Cairn terrier) dog and bark right back. He doesn’t hit kids unprovoked (usually) but I’ve seen him go in like a windmill, both arms going round and head tucked down, fiercely protecting himself if some other kid messes with him or tries to take something from him.
It makes me proud that he won’t be picked on, and sticks up for himself. I feel pride that he that has courage like that, and it makes my chest ache a little. Courage is something you can’t teach, and its a really valuable virtue in life, one of the top 3 or 4 anyway. Honesty and decency don’t mean squat if you don’t have courage.
Not that I want him fighting, but there is something so sad and pathetic and wrong about a kid who will be bullied. They are set up to harbor great inward resentment, or nurse internal wrongs instead of living from an outward, positive stance. Liam lives outward, always. He engages with the outside world, he doesn’t retreat within himself.
It scares me a little that I love him so much, because I would probably die inside if anything ever happened to him. That’s the deal: unimaginable satisfaction and fulfillment and terrible, gnawing, crushing, soul-killing worry and despair. So there is a downside, you see. Its not all peaches and cream.
Sick and frustrated at heart at the things I can’t get for him and do for him, for hurts that I can’t absorb for him and wounds that I can’t shield him from. If he’s sick, you feel it. If he’s unhappy, you’re miserable. If he has diarrhea, boy do you smell it. Don’t give a kid anything with tomato sauce, you’ll thank me for that advice.
Many people have said this, but everything changes with a having a kid. Every decision you make is magnified through the prism of the child and everything that came before him or is going on around your universe seems petty and unimportant in relation.
This kid is hilarious, he has a great sense of humor and makes jokes all the time, and purposely goofs to try to crack us up. He laughs a lot, and we laugh with him a lot too. Its the best time, the three of us together just hanging out, laughing.
He loves to sing and dance and act. We love everything he does, he just tickles us no end. We never do get tired of our own kid and the things he does, although other people seem to be able to quite easily. I don’t know what their problem is.
Sometimes I can stand outside myself and look in and think, boy are we easily amused, but it feels so good and right. Plus he’s such a great looking kid. He looks just like his mom, and she’s a honey.
Everyone says their kid is cute, but look at him. He’s adorable. Not like the ugly kids we see out on the streets when we take our walks to the park or the pool or the fountain. Some people have some really ugly kids. I bet they know its true inside, but they try to pretend their kid might grow up better looking.
No one ever gets better looking if they are an ugly kid. You are as cute as you are ever going to be when you are two. You don’t have that little round baby head anymore and you have hair on your coconut instead of fuzz, and you can talk baby talk, and for that microsecond of his life, he is still be young enough to get away with it and be cute. I see other people’s kids who do it when they are too older to be talking baby-talk, well, you just want to slap those kids.
I think its because my kid is so handsome and brave and talented, I can condescend to love all those imperfect people, even their ugly ass kids. That’s probably why I very rarely have negative thoughts about other people, because I’m so blessed myself. Its like I won the lottery and don’t have to pay taxes on it. I got it all.
Liam is 2 years and 2 months, precocious, funny, good-hearted, moody and mercurial and random and a little violent sometimes, but he knows he is loved by many people, so he’s secure and as well-adjusted as you could hope a little boy could be.
The world hasn’t fucked him up yet, and I try to do everything possible to keep it at bay as long as possible. When you are responsible for a kid you want to do so much and it just breaks your heart that such an innocent will be exposed to such cruelty and heartbreak. Having a kid in your life is the greatest happiness and the greatest sadness, all at once.
For all that, I’m sure glad he’s in mine. I look forward to our every day together. And having two year olds pretty much mastered means its nothing but a smooth ride, I just get to have a seamless life with a smart, stylish, pretty girl who still catches my eye sometimes when I least expect it, and a great kid with a love and generosity of heart bigger than and more volatile than a volcano.
What do you do when you have an easy, happy life like mine time just floats on by, easy like the clouds? Just lay back and enjoy it, man. Watch the parade.
Sure, he does have these chemical imbalances that affect him sometimes. He gets all wound up and upset, and I can see he doesn’t even want to be, but he can’t help it, and he goes nuts for however long it takes, then he gets over it right after.
The only time its really something that has to be dealt with is when you are in public. Its not him, its these people, people who should know better, and can obviously see the kid is having a tantrum, will stare unsympathetically and accuse you with their eyes of tormenting him. I hate those type of people.
They are real bastards and don’t make things any easier, staring with their little beady eyes at your predicament. They don’t have a better idea, do they? Oh no, but they will sure look over at you making a fool of yourself, just rubbing it in and laughing inside at your misery. God, I hate those people.
Recently, Liam and I were out for our outside time. He’s happy in his stroller, he sings a lot, or just gabbles or makes noises to hear the echoes on the tree-lined avenues where the houses are set very near the curb.
I sing with him, but usually stop when an adult walks near us. You’d be surprised at the number of adult people who will scowl, not smile, at a 2 year singing happily. What’s wrong with people, anyway? I stop singing just so I don’t give them more reason to be such jerks. Boy, some people.
The sun is out, there are kids all over the place in Suburbia, the bird’s are singing, and if I look back over my shoulder, there’s probably a double rainbow, if I cared enough to look. But I’m happy just to walk and enjoy the perfection of the moment.
I get a crazy inspiration to shake things up, when everything is already fine and he’s perfectly content. I’m only happy when it rains, I guess.
“How about an ice-cream cone?”
Everything still wonderful, as long as I don’t mention it too far from the shop, because offering anything to a two year old means now, immediately. A year from now and in a second are synonymous to a two year old. They dislike waiting and will express extreme displeasure with delays. To master the two year old, avoid delays at all costs.
I keep this in mind and don’t offer until we are about to walk through the door. I will next time, I mean. This time I offer a block away and I pay dearly for that lapse, because now I have altered his peaceful, easy-going mood slightly. This blunder will bear bitter fruit very soon.
We order the cone, and the damn lazy stupid girl dawdles and takes precious seconds making a simple ice-cream cone. He’s getting a bit impatient and starts to fuss. I pay nervously, seeing the stern look of displeasure on his face.
I know how much he hates delay, and here I am, holding up his busy day with my lackadaisical cone-handling. The cone comes, I proudly hand it to him with relief. He takes one second to throw a full-blown fit and bats it away from him. I nearly drop it.
“What’s the matter? You don’t want the chocolate chip? You want chocolate?”
“NO!” bats at cone.
“Ok, then here you want to try this one? Its chocolate chip. You like chocolate chip,” I say stupidly.
“Ok hang on,” looking desperately at the cone girl so she will make my new request before moving on to the next customer, “we’ll get you a chockit” (speaking babytalk in public, obviously I’m in trouble here, help me you stupid, ugly girl).
Too late, she cowardly refuses to jilt the next customer, she waits on his unsympathetic ass. What a jerk he is! He can’t wait two minutes for baby fercrissakes? Liam screams, everyone looks on unapprovingly, some shake their heads in disgust at my ineptitude.
“Ok, here is chocolate, you want this one?”
Liam continues his fit, screams, holds his body stiff and attempts to slide through the seat belt and out of the stroller, simulates epileptic seizure while screaming full blast. He screams so intensely no sound comes out, the veins in his forehead turn white and his face turns purple. He throws anything he can reach in a furious rage.
I move this tea party out onto the sidewalk table area, where I pathetically offer him first one, then the other, rapidly melting cone, as he angrily screams NO. The tourists at the other tables tut-tut at how a grown man can so badly fuck up the simple task of giving a baby an ice-cream cone. What’s he doing, keeping both cones for himself and not giving the baby any? The wretched, beastly, hateful man.
Well the hell with you people, I know what you’re thinking, even if you don’t dare say it to my face, and I’m past caring about those smug, self-satisfied assholes who don’t have a screaming child with them.
Liam wants neither cone and fiercely bats at them both, sometimes connecting and getting chocolate spray all over us, but gets even madder if I take a lick to stop them from melting. Yet if I just threw them away, he’d throw an even bigger fit. So I keep them near him, for when he changes his mind, and he smacks them when he can.
Fortunately, I’m a veteran, and I have brought him extra shirts, shorts, socks, diapers, swim diapers, wipes, kleenex, goldfish, “pops” -Dum-dum pops, only for the most dire, penultimate measure. Remember, sugar is bad for a toddler’s teeth and only the lamest, laziest and uncaring care-giver will take the easy way out and give a screaming child sugar.
And, lastly, the nuclear device: the pacifier, codenamed “Babo” [bah-bow]. He’s not supposed to have it except for naps and nighttime sleep, because he is being weened from it, but sometimes its that or I’ll have to be embarrassed in public. And I’d rather he face a thousand dentists than for me to be embarrassed by the toddler. Its called “tough love”.
In these cases, if you need anything thrown, including things he actually wants, just put it in his hand. The ice-cream cones are rapidly melting, and at suburbia prices I’ve only brought enough money for two ($20 USD). I know damn well he’ll calm down soon, then want the ice cream, which will have melted, and he will create a fresh hell for me.
So, desperate to get him settled down, I take the coward’s way out and give him the Babo right off. I got nothing left if this doesn’t shift him, but luckily it always works.
He takes the babo, looks at it, throws it. Then he screams “BABO!!!” miserably, bereft of his babo. “Jeez idiot, give him the pacifier already!” I can feel passersby think at me, in their really maddening, whiny voices.
I try the ice-cream, hey, take a chance, he bats the now-almost-liquid cone and it spatters all over the place. Sadly, while I have plenty of extra shirts, shorts, socks, wipes and etc. for him, I have no extra shirt for myself. Its a small diaper bag and the only personal things I can afford space to carry are phone, keys and wallet. Good thing I wore a brown shirt, that’s using brain power to solve problems before they happen.
Suddenly, the chemical miasma in his childish brain recedes and he sobbingly settles down and instead of throwing the babo, which you have handed him, chased, wiped off and handed again a dozen times, he puts it in his mouth and winds down, sobbing. He picks at a glob of ice-cream on his shirt and tastes it. He likes it and looks up at the cones?
“You want this ice-cream?”
“H-huh-huh-huh-huh-icekeem. Icekeem. Huh-huh-huh-huh-icekeem. Icekeem.” like a man dying in the desert finding the oasis, why have you denied me the icekeem and tortured me all this time? He is now the sweet little guy who is a joy to be around again, just like that.
He keeps sobbingly saying ‘icekeem’ as he pooches his lips out and uses them, looking like a baby bird, to bite off bits of the chocolate chip/vanilla cone. I helpfully turn it so he will lick around the edges so it doesn’t drip so much (it still drips all over the damn place, don’t kid yourself), and he grouchily barks at me if I interrupt a nearly constant supply of ice cream to his mouth. He uses his fingers to pick out chips and eat those in between licks.
I presciently grabbed a paper bowl and spoon when we were in the shop, and now I knock the chocolate ice-cream off the cone into the bowl so he can eat that next. He sees me do this and screams at my perfidy like I stabbed him in the heart.
/I put the melting chocolate back on the soggy cone and give it to him. Appeased, he quiets.
I hand him that cone too when he motions for it. What the hell. He annoyedly waves one cone-filled hand, because ice-cream is running down his forearm.
“Wipe my arm and hand off, foo!” he roars in shorthand loudly. I do so, quickly, careful not to, in any way, interfere with the moving of the ice-cream to his creamhole. I have wipes in both hands, wiping between his bites, holding the paper bowl waiting for the ice-cream to drop off the cone so as to avert another crisis, an adult on a bike zooms by alarmingly close and we have to move my carefully choreographed production closer to the wall.
“Fucking jerk-ass rider,” you mutter inaudibly to yourself.
“FUCKEEN JERKASH RITER! FUCKEEN JERKASH RITER. FUCKEEN JERKASH RITER!” Liam screams happily. He’s suddenly cheerful again as he continues swearing and eating alternately. The women at the next table halt their conversation and glare directly at me.
There’s nothing I can do so I just ignore them and him and concentrate on spooning the remaining ice-cream into him. It does absolutely no good to say to a two year old “don’t say that, those words are naughty,” unless you are actually talking for the benefit of the adults around you, to show you are righteously admonishing your kid not to say the swear words you just taught him. I don’t give those mean-spirited, spiteful women the satisfaction. I know what they think of me and nothing I do will change their opinion, so the hell with those women and their entire families and anyone they know.
Now Liam has a sugar buzz on, and he magnanimously allows you to knock the ice-cream off the cones into the bowl, providing you quickly spoon it into his mouth once you do so. And keep ’em coming, barkeep, when you see me swallow, get another spoonful up here quick.
Now I’m working toward cleaning him up with my non-spoon hand, taking off the outer layers of sticky as he finishes up. Now I need to distract him so he lays the babo down and I can surruptiously stash it back in the diaper bag.
I cannot arrive home with a pacifier in his mouth or my ass is grass. Sometimes this is extremely tricky and we near home with the it still ensconced firmly in his mouth, Liam singing happily and me scheming on how to get him in the door for the hand-off to mom, should she already be home, neither crying nor with a babo in his mush. To do otherwise would be to forsake honor.
Besides, it would get me in trouble with Mom, and set the mood for the evening with me at fault and a failed care provider. You’re never too old to get in trouble, and I damn sure don’t want a time out. Oh yes, Mom gives us a time out too, only it can last a week. You Dads out there e know what I’m talking about.
Eureka! I’ll give him a pop, he’ll give me the babo, we’ll go around the block again so he’ll have eaten the evidence by the time we hit the door. He always likes throwing away the stick in a trashcan and is pretty philosophical about the pop being gone.
Again, problem solved using superior child-rearing skills. Of course, do not give you child candy and ice-cream all the time to absolve your failures as a parent, that goes without saying. This was like a once in a lifetime thing that happened this one particular day I’m describing. As a rule I eschew the pop completely, its not needed with my usual methods.
“Wanna pop? Pop? Poppop?” I can talk toddlerish here, no people around. I don’t know why I do this, he just seems to respond to it better, or maybe its just me.
“Pop! Pop! Pop! Poppop!” Now he needs a pop this second, no, ten seconds ago. You offer me a pop before having it ready to hand me? God, sometimes I think you want to fail. Two year olds are the opposite of patient.
“Here, you want a blue one?”
“No,” with lips way out, shaking entire body, very emphatic, no blue pop. We go through this Q&A every time (on those rare occasions when I do give him candy), he doesn’t really know any color for sure but green yet, so its just an empty exercise to stall for time. After going through random colors with him “Nooooo” to each, while I rummage for one in the magic bag,
I give him anything I come up with but brown. He hates all brown Dum-dums: rootbeer, faux chocolate, butterscotch, I think its supposed to be. No browns, please. He recognizes them and will discard them as tainted. Don’t even waste my time giving me a brown pop, I won’t even open it. Its the color of ass, and he knows it.
I give him the red pop.
“Want me to take the paper off??
“Noooo.” pooches out lips, shakes upper body no. We go through this every time too, like part of the game, but I must ask.
He worries the paper down around the pop’s shoulders and starts to suck it, with the paper in his face. Annoyed, he holds it out for me to take the paper off. Sometimes he does it himself, this one is either wrapped particularly tight or he wants the pop-ly goodness quick and can’t be bothered. Here, take the bloody paper off then. Be quick about it man.
I keep getting this commentary in my mind, he is sending it telepathically I guess.
He calmly sucks the pop as we slowly roll along. We see cats “Meow” and ducks “Quackquackquack” and water “warter” coming out of a culvert drain and rarely an airplane “airpane” or just a speck in the sky and we still point and yell out “airpane.”
I talk to him constantly, whatever we are doing. I never make him just baggage, along for the ride. I went for a bike ride with his Mom’s father, with Liam in my seat. His grandfather often takes him for a ride, but doesn’t talk to him much. I don’t think he has a lot to say to a two year old.
It was so foreign an idea to him that I would be talking to Liam that he would respond to anything I said to Liam as if I were talking to him – of course, I must be, who else would I be talking to?
Me (to Liam): “See the ducks? Quackquackquack! Ooo, baby ducks!”
Amy’s Dad: “Um, yes, I see them.”
We always end the bike ride at the park and let Liam play. He likes to run around and play, stretch his legs after a strenuous workout of being toted on the back of a bike. Grampa rode on home, we stayed to play.
I haven’t forgotten what its like to be a kid, and what he likes to do. What he does not like is to be a package transported around the town. Sure, that gets him fresh air, but he likes to run and climb and push his big plastic truck around.
We take it everywhere, and its always a good thing and gives him something to do. There’s a play area at the mall, but not a damn thing to do there, no toys. The kids try to play tag or something. He pushes his truck around and just has a great time.
Its big like a Tonka, but made of soft plastic so he can’t hurt himself. I don’t know how people ever buy those Tonkas, sure I had them as a kid but they are all sharp edges of metal. You’re giving your kid a head start to a nice scar when you buy them a metal truck, because they are going to fall on it. How did we ever not kill ourselves with those?
Anyway, I also took him to the fake snowfall last week, and all the kids are walking around, wow, great, fake snow, what do we do about it. Out pops Liam with his truck, madly plowing back and forth, running like a demon. All the parents are always mad at me for having the foresight to bring the truck everywhere, because they never think to bring something so useful and cool, and their kids all want the truck, and they can’t have it, so they are discontented and hostile, and the parents blame me because I have common sense.
I don’t know how many times I’ve had to argue, yes, let’s bring the truck, he loves it, it always comes in handy no matter where we go. People don’t realize, kids need something to play with, even in a play area. You can’t just stand there and play. Especially when you’re two. What are going to do, play charades? He is right at “push the truck” age. He calls it a “fruck”, which can cause people to look up.
“Fruck fruck fruck!”
“Its ok, I have your truck, I didn’t forget it, its in the back of the stroller.”
I let him see it. I always show him stuff, I’ve found it stops a lot of problems before they start. I let him watch me make the egg and help me pour the milk, push the buttons on the microwave, get him involved. Let him see how stuff works. Don’t just make food appear like magic, hey presto. It helps make them more patient to see it being prepared and seeing what’s involved. Then, when they get older, you let them help. Then when they get still older yet, you make them help.
Get off your lazy ass teenager, and make me some breakfast. And get a hair cut, you hippie.
I’m assuming long hair will be back in by the time Liam is a teenager. I have long hair myself, but you have to bitch at teenagers. They expect it, and they need adversity and angst or they don’t have a purpose, which is to hate their parents. Hard to believe this sweet little boy will come to that, but its probably true.
That’s why I try to concentrate on the now.
He’s learning potty training, which for now we let him walk around naked for a time with the potty out, he feels the need he goes over and pees. When he seems done we put the diaper back on. He’s doing very well and pees in the potty all the time. He hasn’t pooped in it yet. Watch this space for updates on that, including the consistency of said poop. You can tell a lot about diet and health from a stool.
He loves rituals, like repeating favorite lines from a movie or song. He does it for me special, since I seem to like those lines so much, he’ll repeat them for me and I’ll echo them right back on cue. Its another little game we have, just makes the day that much better, applying those favorite lines to what’s going on around us. He very cleverly uses them in appropriate situations, he’s a very perspicacious kid. Genes are wonderful.
His current favorite is. and has been for some weeks, “volcano is shaking!” as he points at anything that vaguely looks like a volcano, a tree stump, a pile of dirt, mom’s butt under the covers on the bed. He rides that in the morning, waking her up, falling around, hilarious with joy, laughing maniacally and shouting in a big voice: “volcano is shaking!”
He and his mom do the Sling blade voice to each other and its the funniest thing I’ve ever heard and seen in my life.
“Hold on there, we’re gonna have ourselves a accident!” (Mom in Karl from Slingblade’s raspy voice).
“Hol on ter, we gone hava assident!” (Liam in Karl from Slingblade’s if he were two years old raspy voice).
He does it after her and I split a gut laughing, no matter how many times they do it. Sometimes 50 times in a row, and yet its always funny. I don’t know where the line came from, its not in the movie, I think she just made it up one time. Comedy gold, that Slingblade voice.
He is a lover of repetition. We do and say a lot of things a bunch of times in a row. Listen to songs, read stories. After I get done with a story or a song or even a video of something many times he’ll say:
“Ok, what the heck.”
And we read it or listen again. He sits on my lap and we go on the computer and find songs to sing together. You have watch out, he’ll pound on the keyboard and break off keys. Both the laptops have keys missing, but they still work if you push where a key is missing. Looks kind of raggedy though.
I love our days out together. I love this little guy with all my heart. He has shown me the meaning of life. And luckily, I’ve discovered the secret of two year olds myself, so that life is always easy and good. After nap, and all day stuff, we take one late afternoon outing before we head home to clean up then watch a show or look at the computer and wait for mom to come home.
Me and Liam, counting the steps together as we jump up each one to the apartment. I wish this time would never end. Its so wonderful it almost panics me how much I enjoy it. Its like I’m already looking back at it like a memory of a gorgeous, perfect and precious crystalline moment.
I look into the future and see him as a young man, so handsome and smart and brave and honest. I’ve done a great job raising him and I give my future memory a mental high five for luck.
But its right now and he’s running across the carpet to Mom coming in the door and he’s roaring “MOOOOMEEEEE!!!” and she swings him up and gives her boy a hug.
These are the things that are important to me. I have to remember that and keep it safe in my heart. Nothing else is even close. Liam and his Mom and me.
Later, when I put him to bed, sometimes he wants a story and sometimes he doesn’t, he just wants me to sit with him for a few before going out, with the light dimmer barely cracked on so he doesn’t wake up in the complete darkness.
I like to take him back through the day and talk about all the things we did and saw that day. Sometimes we say prayers for everyone he knows. Sometimes he tells me a nonsense story, or he likes me to take one of his books and “read” him a story from it in the near darkness, making up a story from the dim pictures. I think he knows I’m making it up but he enjoys a new story instead of the stilted ones that are actually written there. Mine are much more exciting and colorful, I can guarantee you that.
Then I tell him goodnight and kiss him on the head and get one more hug. He still cries for a couple minutes before going to sleep, but its less than he used to. Sometimes if he’s very tired he’ll just roll over and go right to sleep, and stay asleep all night.
I walk to our bed to his Mom and think about him and his day. I’ve got to keep remembering to enjoy all this. It only comes once and lasts for such a short time. I’ve got to pay attention so I can hold it in my heart for the rest of my life.