Happy twenty-five months old, Liam. Your caregiver just called me to tell me that you’d jammed an inch-long chunk of carrot up your nose, which required tweezers to remove. Any further in and it would have been a trip to the emergency room to get it taken out. Now you’ve done it, and we’ve had the experience, and we can move along richer for the wisdom gained. Yes?
Somewhere around his second birthday his lower two-year-old molars came in. He’s been insisting on brushing his teeth alone and refusing the parental once-over that used to follow, so I don’t know when exactly they showed up. We discovered them on Monday, as we can get the toothbrush into his mouth for the full cleaning instead of him just brushing the front, because we came up with the brilliant idea of bringing the toothbrush into his room to brush while he watches his fish. They look pretty settled and they’re well through the gums, so they’re not new. Now we’re waiting on the upper set.
Speaking of the fish, the mollies have spawned. We had fourteen extra fish in the tank one morning, which have now settled down to seven babies, some dark, some silvery. We lost the adult leopard mollie around the same time, alas. Still; losing one adult, gaining seven babies… it’s a novelty to come out ahead on the fish count. “See baby fishes!” is Liam’s newest phrase that he’s doing to death. He stands on his toy chest and presses his nose against the aquarium for ages at a time; he holds various toys up to see the fish. He hugs the tank. “Hug fishes,” he says happily.
He talks and talks and talks, and is clear and articulate enough that we can understand him ninety percent of the time. He says ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ without prompting about half the time now, and is using ‘you’re welcome’ more frequently. He’s started using possessives and including the words ‘the’ and ‘in’ in his sentences. And if I wear a skirt or a dress, Liam says, “Pretty Mama.” It’s good for the ego.
He’s currently immersed in the world of Beatrix Potter and enjoying it. “Mice?” he’ll say when he wants to read or watch some. “Bunnies?” We picked up a collection of animated Beatrix Potter episodes, and they’re lovely and relaxing to watch at the end of the day. (Even when there is death and nature red in tooth and claw going on. There’s a lot of that in Beatrix Potter. Rabbits may wear shoes and coats, and mice may wear Baroque clothing, but cats still chase them, and farmers still eat bunnies, and rats still try to kill kittens. Okay, they plan to make them into roly-poly puddings, but that’s cooking the kitten, people.) He’s old enough to pay attention to the books now, much to my delight. Hearing him say, “Flossy… Mossy.. Cot-on-tayul… Pee-tah!” when we read makes me laugh.
We’re working on the sharing and the concept of turns. Someone picked up a truck he was playing with at daycare the other day and he burst into tears. “Let him have a turn,” we encouraged Liam. “Please?” he said to his playmate through his tears. The playmate pulled the truck a little closer, and Liam broke into a fresh bout of tears. You could see him struggle with the injustice: “But I said please! I said please, and he didn’t give it back to me! The world isn’t fair!”
It was interesting to watch him playing with/alongside Matthieu last weekend. Matthieu is sevenish months older, with an appropriate command of language and a very clearly defined concept of ‘mine’. Liam is used to running around happily and playing with whatever is there, so he was a little startled when Matthieu took some toys away from him and told him severely that these were his toys, and Liam wasn’t to touch them. It was an eye-opener for Liam to realise that other people felt defensive about certain possessions, the same way he felt defensive about certain toys of his own. Later, Liam picked up Matthieu’s extra-special Monkey and carried him over to Matthieu, which was his way of indicating that Liam understood Monkey was important to him. Matthieu asked for ketchup and mustard on his hamburger later that afternoon and because Matthieu did, Liam did too. Liam has demonstrated in the past that he’s not a fan of either condiment, but he ate half the bun with traces of both on it, and some bites of the burger too. (HRH had to sit him on his lap and feed him little bites, but he ate it. Hey, there were Thomas toys he’d never seen before in the next room; Thomas trumps dinner every time.) He picked half a pork chop up off my plate at dinner last night and tore into it, ignoring the bits I’d cut up for him on his own plate. His use of forks and spoons is really impressive too.
Playground visits consists of climbing stairs, sliding down the slide, running around to climb up and slide down, repeat ad nauseum. Every once in a while he tests physics by trying to climb the slide. “Would you like to play on the swings?” we ask. “No!” he pants as he runs by with a grin on his face. Why? There’s a slide right here. It might as well be the only piece of playground equipment that exists in Liam’s world. He even said “Excuse me” to a girl who was in the way by the stairs last weekend. He plays Ring Around the Rosy too, often by himself. He is particularly fond of the “Ashes, ashes, all fall — down!” bit, doing deep knee bends followed by throwing himself flat on his stomach. His songs are becoming clearer and clearer.
He expresses very satisfying joy when we say we’re going to the bookstore. “Bookstore! Bookstore! Liam bookstore!” he carols. Then when he gets there he’s even more excited, because the bookstore we usually go to has a Thomas train layout in the children’s section. (Next time we go I will smuggle in some glue, though, because there is a broken train on the layout that distresses Liam terribly; he keeps bringing it to me and saying “Mama fix, Mama fix it”. Also around his second birthday, he clearly began calling the No. 1 blue engine ‘Thomas’ instead of ‘Ati’.) I love that he gets excited about the bookstore and about books. I love that he loves life, that he does everything with enthusiasm and evident enjoyment. He has his two-year-old moments where he kicks and screams because something hasn’t gone according to his plan, but it’s an opportunity to communicate with him and ask him to express in words what it is that he is feeling, and what it is that he wanted to happen instead. We’re learning to choose our battles, too. It’s not a big thing if he wants to stand in the tub while it fills for his bath. The crisis that will be created if we refuse is a much bigger thing, and something none of us need. He’s challenging us to rethink why we do things a certain way. Change can be good; doing something in a slightly different order can be refreshing. And at the same time, the comfort of a regular routine is soothing and reliable, and provides structure for the day and for our worldviews.
When he’s very upset, sometimes he asks us to light a candle. Picking him up and holding him so he can see, we do, and we say, “Thank you God, thank you Goddess, for my day, and for making the world so pretty, and for people who love us.” “Thank you, God and Goddess,” he echoes, and watches the candle for a while.
Life is good.