Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The never ending WHY

It's a cliché in comedic bits about parenting: the kid asks an endless barrage of questions which inevitably turns into a staccato series of "Why, Why, but Why?!"  And the parent always gets exasperated and/or pummeled into the submission of saying "I don't know why!  It's just because!"

But I have a confession: I enjoy the questions.  Every time my little man expresses some curiosity about the world, a little flag waves in my mind reminding me that my kid is engaged, is paying attention, is constantly learning.  I made a decision before he was born to do my very best to answer every question he asks, as many as it takes to get a to a point where is satisfied or I just don't know the answers (and then we go to the internet for answers!).

I won't lie - there are definitely times (generally an hour past bedtime when the questions tend to lean in the "silly" direction and my brain is in shutdown mode) when my commitment to this question answering is tested, but in the end I can never say no [more questions] to this face:
So, yeah, this week I have engaged in 10+ minute digressions about how internal combustion engines work, how the calamari we had for dinner was right then working it's way through his tummy on a route to become poop and then out to the potty, and a long (and confusing, to me) conversation about what is "under the road".  And the truth is, I enjoyed each talk.  Just don't ask me why.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Cherishing the failure

My little boy has come a long way.  Now 28+ months old, he can walk, run, and climb, he can carry (empty) boxes and turn little wooden nuts onto bolts.  He can talk with reasonable articulation in English, and can name a number of things in Spanish.  He's undeniably clever and developing physical skills at a nice clip.

But with regularity, when attempting something that he easily did moments before, he falls flat on his face.  Very often the fall is quite literal.  And I am learning to thoroughly enjoy these little failures.

Just this morning, Jude went to swing his leg over a little Scooter that he rides around the house - this is a super simple action he has completed successfully countless times - but he started the maneuver from too far away.  It was funny to watch, one of his feet firmly planted about 18 inches from the front of the bike and the other foot kind of flailing around in space about 4 inches short of the seat.  And what came next was instructive: he realized the error, replanted the pivot foot a little closer, and successfully mounted up and off he went with a smile.

In the same kind of way, I'll watch him tear around the house like a little Nascar racer, looping from kitchen to dining to living rooms, ducking under and around table corners and sporting a kind of wild eyed look on his face.  Jude can manage this circuit with ease, except every once in a while the floor apparently reaches up and grabs him and he full on tumbles into the hardwood.  And then he gets up and takes off again.

We are in a great stage because these kinds of little accidents cost us little.  Jude has gotten good at falling without injury, and he rarely cries over it any more.  My hope is that he is cultivating resilience and patience with the bumps and tumbles that come with life, the little frustrations that can so easily reduce an adult to literal or figurative tears.  And maybe that's part of why I am enjoying watching my son fail - failure for him is not tiger pit or an insurmountable obstacle, but just one of those little things that happen before you move on with a goofy smile on your face.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

and...relief

As I expected but feared would not happen, my son's fever broke and his personality returned in force at 1:30 AM this morning.  Rarely have I enjoyed being woken early as much as this time, with a little voice - still hoarse but somehow measurably more pleasant - coming through the monitor asking for juice and a snack and to play downstairs with his big rig.  In short, he feels much better and so do his mama and I.

Monday, March 18, 2013

fear

In some ways, every fear is of the unknown.

As a parent, the most common fear is that something could happen to your child.

When something happens to your child, the fear extends to what may happen next.

My little boy is sick this week.  Nothing tragic or overly serious, or so we heard today at the doctor's office.  Apparently he has an ear infection (or two), likely brought on as a "secondary infection" from his system being depressed due to allergies, or a cold, etc

I'm not taking it well.

He cannot tell us what hurts, or what he wants, or what he needs.  Our relatively articulate 2 year old has been reduced to a constant moan, with spikes of intense whining.  Normal treats, like juice, he treats with contempt.  He doesn't want us to take his clothes off; he doesn't want us to put clothes on him.  He doesn't want us to wipe his nose, and he doesn't want us to give him medicine.  Every action we have taken today has resulted in full body spasms as he fights us; he doesn't understand we are trying to help and hurting alongside him.

The whole experience has unnerved and shaken me, and it leaves me frightened about what could come.  Again - my son has what is very likely a common ear infection and will be back to normal soon.  But in the interim it is just too easy for our fear to fester, for us to fear that his pain - and our own - will somehow evolve and extend into something worse and longer lasting.

Love can be hard, and love can hurt.

Here's hoping that everyone feels better in the morning.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

mornings

The first hour of the day around here can be so challenging.  The adults in the house all cling to the fading memory of sleep like shipwreck survivors to bits of floating debris, while the youngest resident and his dog are ready to get the dervishes whirling immediately.

There is something about feeling rushed: getting the morning ablutions in, breakfast begun, the dog outside-and-back-and-fed, and food on the table before the Tyrannosaur 2 year old Rex realizes he's hungry...sometimes both the intensity of this chunk of routine and it's quotidian tedium makes me crabby.

I'm beginning to suspect that is one of those cases where the counter intuitive option may be best; perhaps I should rise earlier to sneak up on the routine when it doesn't expect me.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Two Years! (and a little more...)

I know this post is late, and every day later it became, the more I dreaded coming here to write.  There are some negative feedback loops that seem so silly when viewed from any distance at all, but for the looper it does not seem silly at all.

Your birthday falls the day after Christmas, and it always will.  The holiday season is busy, there are many family commitments and important things tugging folks in a dozen directions, and I let that busyness get in the way of taking some time to record the passing of this important milestone, your 24th month of life!

But we did celebrate on your birthday, with family and friends and cupcakes and decorations in the theme of a construction yard.  You are very much into trucks and tractors, and you have a book with lots of hard hat wearing workers doing tons of fun stuff, so we think you enjoyed the pageantry of the party.

This has been a great year, and the two since you came into our lives have been fantastic.  I get pretty sentimental pretty quickly when I think about being a dad - your dad! - but I do enjoy our time together. You are entering a challenging phase in terms of working out your attitude towards respecting your mom and me; you push to get your way and when we hold out, things go downhill quickly.  I recognize that this phase happens for everyone, and we could definitely have it worse, but to see you pivot from happy / smiling to screaming / crying is not fun.

Over the last twelve months you have learned to walk and run, to talk a good bit, to feed yourself (inconsistently, but you have the skill set now); you have become a much better and more consistent sleeper, putting in a decent ~10 hours most nights without too much fussing.  We are still dealing with a protracted transition to bedtime, and that chore has been taking a toll on your mom - hopefully the 2.25 year update to this blog will record our joy at you just going to bed at bedtime!

One of the really surprising joys for me over the last few months has been the development of your memory.  You can recall things that we did together weeks or months ago, and to hear you randomly start talking about the farm (pumpkin patch trips) or the boat (with Mamaw and Granddad in the summer!) or walking on the "blue bridge" and riding the carousel giraffe...it's a lot of fun.  And it's cool to see what you think of as fun or exciting, or what sticks out in your memory.

You do not go to daycare for a variety of reasons, and one casualty of that choice is that you have less interaction with folks your age than most other kids in society at large.  But, we have had some success in the last year getting together with friends of mine and your mom who have children between 0 and 5, and you are starting to develop your own relationships with those little people.  You have one friend in Chicago that you call out by name on a regular basis, a young lady named Harper.  While you have only see her a small handful of times and with large breaks between, she must have made a serious impression on you.  Besides Harper, you have visited a few times with some other friends both here in Chattanooga and briefly in Chicago on one of our trips, and it has been interesting to watch you interact.  The books all say that kids your age don't really "play" together, but rather you play around each other, and that has been our experience to date.  At a friend's house, you will survey the scene, pick out some toys to commandeer, and basically do your own thing while they do theirs, with the occasional huggy/kissy (very sweet to see!) or whiny (when you realize you can't play with every toy at once) bits thrown into the mix.

I'm rambling here.  Months 13 - 24 were awesome, and probably better than 1 - 12 because you are totally turning into a real little person.  You have more personality and you know how to interact, you can tell us (sometimes) what's on your mind in a way that allows us to understand and react...you're funny and sweet and smart and you make me so very, very glad that I'm your dad.

I love you, son.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Month 23

Or 2Y - 1mo!  The 23rd month is always going to give up a little luster to the coming celebration of the big 2 year mark, but this month has been pleasant.  Not only has the weather turned a little crisper, but you, my boy, have graduated into the next grade of terrorizing your parents.  This month, you learned to climb.

Just a few short nights ago, while prepping for one of many holiday meals, you climbed right up onto a two step stool and "helped" Mama with her cooking.  And now, forever more, the knives will have to be put away, not to be left on the counter top for reachy little hands.

I blame it all on your new friend; we recently had dinner with another family in their home, and their son (your age +/- one week) was climbing all over the place and you took copious notes.  It's all good, though.  1/8 of a second after this picture was taken, you learned the second lesson of climbing, and the bruise didn't even last a day.

You also continued developing your curiosity this month.  As mentioned before, you get to go to the TN aquarium a ridiculous amount, and at each stage of your very young life you have reacted differently to the experience.  This last time you finally took notice of the jelly fish and maybe a little bit the giant crabs.  And for 7 or 8 seconds you checked out the under water observation bubble.





This was your first year with real exposure to holiday food, and it turned out to be a good year for that. Both families (Mama's and Daddy's) celebrated Thanksgiving with above average iterations of the turkey, stuffing, potato, etc assembly.  At your Oma's house, you even got to show your climbing skills off out on the deck in pretty but brisk temps.

I should also mention that you are talking more, and with more sophistication.  I am more impressed that you look at a picture book and say "two mouses" than I am concerned that you haven't fully grokked the crazy English rules of plurals.

Along the same lines, it makes me and yo mama fuzzy and warm on the insides when you wander off in the house and we find sitting with a book, "reading" to one of your friends (owl, train, Pooh...)  It shows my bias, but I do believe that if we can get encourage your love of reading that the rest of your education will likely take care of itself.

We are excited about the coming celebration, and we are committed to recognizing your birthday despite the societal focus on the Christmas holidays, but we cherish each month, and 23 is no exception.  Maybe because you brought the style this month, hard.
I love you, son.  Stay cool.