Two years makes for a big, big change. (Okay, twenty-three months in the case of this picture. But what’s a month when you’re looking at two years? All I can say is that he was much smaller and thinner than this when he was born.)
HRH and I were talking about two years ago the other day, and how insane that first month was. “I don’t remember work,” HRH said, and I said, “I think I must have been kind of dazed and moving through life in a Zen way.” That’s the only way I can imagine living through going through morning rush hour traffic to the hospital, seeing the boy for ten to twenty minutes, driving to drop HRH off at work, driving home, writing insane amounts of the GW book to meet the slightly revised deadline, unpacking from the move two weeks prior, driving back to get HRH, driving through rush hour traffic to the hospital to spend half an hour with the boy, then driving home again. Zen. Doing what we had to do and rolling with it, because to fight it would use up precious energy we were channeling into a very small person to keep him alive. We just did what we had to do. We rolled with things. “I remember telling people not to call after dinner,” said HRH, “because every time the phone rang we jumped, thinking it was the hospital telling us something was wrong with the baby.” Sure, there were one or two times when things went off the rails — like one morning when we couldn’t hold him because they were moving his IV, and when we went back that night I asked someone to take him out of the neonatal isolette for me and a nurse snapped that it was too close to his feeding time and she wouldn’t do it, so I went out into the hallway and cried because all I wanted to do was hold him once that day (thank goodness for other nurses seeing what happened and firmly escorting the snappy nurse into the next room to tell her that they do not make stressed and strung-out mothers cry when they freaking commute in through an hour and a half of traffic not once but twice to see the child in the neonatal unit that they’re not allowed to bring home, and then returning to take my son out of the isolette and handing him to me).
It’s hard to remember that time of our lives when we look at the boy now. Now he’s taller and slightly heavier than most kids his age (34.75 inches and 30 lbs the doctor has just told us). He runs. He falls. He climbs. He turns somersaults. He reads. He laughs like a loon. He eats a startling amount for a toddler. He talks to us about everything. He wears size 7 shoes, size 5 diapers, and 2T pants with 3T tops. He’s sleeping for ten to eleven hours at night, with a two-hour nap after lunch every day. Still no sign of the two-year-old molars. They finally stopped moving and making him cranky a few weeks ago, so we’re trying to enjoy the respite as much as possible before they start growing again.
Developmentally, we’re told that “At this age, your child should be putting two words together (‘Go car?’) and following two-step commands (‘Get your sweater and come to the car’). She also should be learning more words every day and naming some pictures in books.” Liam was doing this months ago (the latter a year ago, in fact), so we’re officially throwing the guidebooks away (not that I’ve paid much attention to them for the last year anyway). “Dada pancake all gone,” he said when HRH polished off the last bite of his breakfast on Saturday. “No no Maggie, no eat balloons,” he said to Margaret today when she tried to chew on the trailing ribbons dangling from the foil helium birthday balloons. “No eat Liam’s balloons,” he clarified, just in case she was unclear on why snacking thusly was wrong. Sometimes he uses a possessive, but it’s rare. This morning he said “I do it” when I showed him how to erase the magnetic doodle board Arthur gave him as a birthday gift. “Liam’s turn,” he will say when he decides he wants something I’m using. We told him could take one of his new cars to bed with him tonight and he tried to pick up the truck with all the cars loaded on it. I can’t argue with how clever it was, but bringing the whole unit to bed was unthinkable so we clarified one of the small cars from the set. “All of them, all of them,” he pleaded. “Tea all gone,” he told me this morning when he finished his cambric tea. “Mama drink tea, Miran drink tea. More tea?”
Concepts he’s grasping include later, after, other one, and another one. If he asks for a cracker and I give him one, he says, “Another one?” because he likes having one in each hand. He’s using the term ‘making’ instead of ‘doing’ sometimes, which is interesting.
New words: look (he used ‘see’ up till last week), bumblebee (instead of simply ‘bee’), Spiderman. And this is a good a time as any to phase out the new words portion of the monthly Liam-post because it’s new phrases now more than new words. Although we’re continually astonished at how easily he echoes a new word we say for him. (Except for: “Liam, can you say ‘precocious’?” Pause, then: “No.”) If he does something he shouldn’t or drops something or breaks something as you ask him what he’s done, he sighs and says “Oh, Liam”. ‘Uh-oh’ has evolved to ‘oh dear’.
His current favourite movie: Toy Story 2. I get a sweet hug from him every time Jessie hugs someone in the movie. “Jessie hug,” he says tenderly, and puts his arms around my neck and rests his head on my shoulder for a few wonderful moments before he turns back to watch the film.
His current favourite books: On the Day You Were Born by Debra Frasier (known as the “Liam dancing!” book), plus his older favourites like The Patchwork Cat, Mog and the Baby, Moonbeam on a Cat’s Ear are still going strong. There are several new books he received as birthday gifts that we are certain are destined to become favourites too. He can already recite much of Up Down and Around, the book on working in a vegetable garden that my parents sent to him for his birthday, when we read it.
His current favourite music: He seems very fond of the Rankin Family when he hears them on the radio and will dance immediately, commanding me to dance too. When the music changes to something else he looks at the radio and says, “More dancing!”. I put on a Rankin Family CD for him one day when he looked sad because the song was over, and he had a blast. HRH caught him conducting to Bach’s sixth Brandenburg concerto the other day.
He blew out his Nemo birthday candle in one puff at his party. As proud of him as I was about how cheerful and polite he was with everyone, I think that single action made me happier and I don’t know why. He got to hold the candle and licked the icing off the bottom, then later we caught him smooshing the candle’s base in the frosting in order to lick it off again. I honestly can’t blame him; it was awesome icing. (Next time I double the recipe for the cake, though, I will bake it for the same amount of time a single batch would need. It was delicious, but too dry for my taste.)
Last week he lay on his tummy in the yard and we watched ants for about half an hour, then we discovered a bumblebee checking out all the crevices in Scarlet’s prepped herb bed. “Bumblebee, bumblebee,” he said over and over, crouched down in that toddler way, getting as close to it as I would let him. HRH joined us and explained that some species of bumblebee are burrow-dwellers, and we all learned something new. Liam was mildly put out that we wouldn’t let him touch it, but the memory of touching the daddy-long-legs on the stairs up to the deck was still fresh in our minds. (“Pider! Pider!” “Yes, Liam. Just look.” The hand darted out; the spider squealed and fell to its doom. “Liam — what did you do?” “Poor pider,” he said in a very remorseful voice.)
Last week I walked in after his nap and found him standing up, both hands on the top rail, and one foot hooked over the edge. He looked at me; I looked at him. “Up,” he said. It would seem that the notion of climbing out has now occurred to him. It hasn’t happened in actuality, but we’re preparing for the transition to the bed just in case it has to happen sooner than we think. We’ve got the bed rails; the bedding is en route. A couple of weeks ago he climbed up into his bay window and sat there, too. He’ll try to climb just about anything. Also, he does not walk; he runs. The swings no longer make him nervous (and I still have no idea what happened to change his joy in swinging to anxiety; no one does).
There’s an odd sort of double reality happening. In one life, we’re moseying along living side by side with our easy-going toddler. In the other, we’re racing to catch up, to think ahead, and come up with things to challenge or entertain him. It’s no wonder we’re tired: keeping up with him mentally is a challenge, quite apart from running around with a quicksilver toddler who weighs almost a third of what I do.