E. is two and a half today. And I’ve been thinking for a while now that I miss writing his monthly letters. I don’t think I could keep up with them if I tried to keep doing them in that much detail, but I miss how observant they made me, how they made me stop and find a spare moment to write down what he was doing and saying from month to month. He is still growing and changing, even if it’s not quite as obvious as it was in the first or second year, and I feel like it is all starting to blur together. So I thought I’d start a new type of post to mark his months, one that helps me remember who he is in this particular moment in time.
What he’s doing:
E. is (probably because of what he gets up to at nursery school) quite interested in painting and stickers and drawing and other such activities. I’m trying to be better at making sure we have the right supplies on hand. He makes very definite colour choices, has started telling me that he’s drawing something in particular (like two airplanes or a bumblebee, even though it still looks like a page full of squiggles), and can draw a pretty good circle. He absolutely loves asking me to write his name on his drawings- sometimes one drawing ends up with four or five signatures. He loves baking and has now mastered cracking eggs. When we make banana bread, I do the measuring and the final stirring when the batter is coming together, but he pretty much does everything else. He also still loves sweeping, although he’s less enamoured of the vacuum as he feels it’s “too yowd”. He loves music and asks me to sing him songs all day long. If it’s a song he almost has memorized he will mouth the words that he knows along with me. Nursery school has been fantastic from this perspective as Q. and I probably don’t sing with him often enough.
He finally showed me that he can jump, although he’s not very confident. He’s still very cautious physically: very slow to go up and down stairs (suits me as it means he’s being safe, and our stairs are very high and very steep and end on a hardwood floor), very worried about getting down from any sort of height, etc. He does love to balance on the angled stones at the edge of some of the properties we pass on our way to nursery school. We’ve really noticed a difference in his walking since starting at nursery school. The walk is about 800 metres, and he walks both ways, three times a week, absolutely no exceptions. When he first started he’d suddenly crouch down in the middle of the sidewalk, saying he needed a break, but now he just trundles along, and if we’re in a rush, he is able (although not particularly willing, which is fair enough) to run along next to me the whole route, which means we get there in less than fifteen minutes.
What he’s playing with:
I hit a snag this month with my long-standing policy of toy rotation when E. made it clear that he could remember toys that I’d put away and request to have them back again. So far we’ve been willing to negotiate where if he wants a particular truck back he has to choose a different vehicle to put away, as I’m stoutly resisting having all vehicles out, all the time. Toys that he really, truly wasn’t playing with at all (like his Schleich animals) he doesn’t seem to miss, but vehicles that had fallen out of favour for a week or so seem to still be tightly retained in the toddler memory.
This month E. has been into his Duplo and his Megabloks in a big way. He likes constructing vehicles out of the Megabloks and the Duplo, but he also loves feeding the Duplo piece by piece into his Bruder garbage truck. He will happily do this by himself for ages if I’m cooking dinner or upstairs having a shower. The other toy that gets a lot of independent play is his Brio train set. I’m so glad we didn’t go with the Thomas trains- I have a real problem with them because the vast majority of the engines are male, and the silly boxcars are female- but by this stage E. would have a problem with them too, as he doesn’t like vehicles with faces on them. He has a dumptruck with a face, and he complains about it, pointing out that it’s supposed to have lights. He’s happiest playing with the trains on the carpet without the constraints of the tracks (again, very glad we didn’t get one of those massive train tables), and will make up all sorts of adventures for them. One day recently the train was loading up crackers and bananas before it drove to the store made up Duplo to drop them off.
On his shelves this month:
In the living room: Duplo, his basket of small vehicles, his Megabloks, his wooden farm, his train set, and his Bruder garbage truck have been out all month. I’ve been rotating the Schleich animals, musical instruments, wooden blocks, his Haba block set with dowels, his wooden car that can be assembled several different ways, and his balls. He always has a few medium sized vehicles out (the Playmobil airport bus was a huge hit when it reemerged) and a puzzle. He still doesn’t spend much time in his bedroom, but he’s played with the M&D vehicle sound blocks as well as a set of little construction vehicles when he’s been up there.
What he’s reading:
E. isn’t as interested in sitting still for stories these days, except pre-nap and at bedtime. My mother found a book of trucks with flaps on each page that she gave to him at Thanksgiving. He’s been obsessed with it ever since, demanding it every night. Q. and I would dearly love for it to disappear. He also insists on reading I am a train and Counting with Miffy at bedtime, which are two more strong contenders for the title of “most obnoxious book he owns”. He loves being silly with Counting with Miffy and will insist that there are two or three of something on every page, except for the page where two (or three) would be the right answer, at which point he yells out another number. Llama Llama Misses Mama played a huge role in helping him adjust to nursery school. Cars and Trucks and Things that Go was probably the best book purchase I’ve made to date as he STILL loves it and gets it out a few times a week. Some days he will listen to a very long story (like Scrambled Eggs Super or Blueberries for Sal or The Library Lion) while on others he prefers That’s Not My Bunny and other such narrative giants.
What he’s saying:
Absolutely everything. This child never stops talking! We were watching videos from last Christmas the other day and I had forgotten all the little sounds he used to make, and how good he was at communicating with us when he didn’t really have any words at all. He is experimenting a lot with verb tenses and having trouble with irregular verbs (as you would expect). We hear a lot of “I broked the garbage truck”.
He’s picked up a few of my verbal habits. He’ll say, “Don’t worry! Don’t worry!” if he’s starting to get worked up about something, and he’ll often tell me that “We’re making progress!” on something. He also says “Oh my goodness!” exactly like my little sister does, which is hilarious.
He’s finally started saying “Yeah” for yes, rather than “Hmmm”. We have my Dad to thank for that one, as he spent a lot of time trying to encourage E. to say ‘yes’ when he was staying with us for a few days.
When he’s really upset and recognizes he’s lost control of his emotions, he’ll come over and say, “I need a cuddle!”, which is entirely because of Q. working so hard with him this summer on ways to calm down when he becomes overwrought. It is so helpful that he now recognizes when this is happening, and will seek out the comfort he needs to allow him to process his feelings.
In general E.’s speech is very clear and he has very few adorable toddler mispronunciations. He correctly says ‘animal’, which amazes Q. and I given we both said ‘aminal’ until we were four. His little voice is so sweet, especially when it is singing. It’s less sweet when he’s getting a bit overwrought and about to become whiny as it goes up in both volume and pitch.
What made me laugh the other day was when he was playing with his garbage truck, and he told me it was going to visit his wooden farm to “collect the poo”. He drove the truck up, parked it, and then said, “Someone needs to climb the ladder.” He went over to his basket where his cars are stored, pulled out one of the little construction figures he has, and then made him climb the ladder to the loft to “get all the poo”.
What I’ve noticed:
I realized this month that running errands with him is now actually fun. I’ve spent two and a half years trying to avoid shopping with him in tow, but this month we’ve gone in search of new mittens, bought bulbs, and searched out presents for new babies. He regularly does the grocery shop on Friday afternoons with Q. after nursery school is over. He walks to the grocery store, sits in the cart and holds the shopping list, and then carries some of the groceries home. If the store we need to visit is far enough away that we have to take the subway or a streetcar (or both!) to get there, than the journey really does become the highlight of the trip. Yesterday I braved going downtown to get him a pair of mittens from a particular store that I knew would fit and last and which I couldn’t buy online because they wanted too high a minimum purchase to get free shipping. It takes an hour to get there when you walk at toddler speed, and requires a streetcar, a subway and another streetcar. E. had an absolute blast.
The other thing that’s stood out this month is how good his memory is. I’ve lost count of how many nursery rhymes and classic children’s songs he has memorized. Ever since we came back to Canada Q. has sung “Morningtown Ride” to E. every night before he goes to sleep. At lunch last week E. spontaneously started singing it to us and did both verses and the chorus, letter-perfect, with only the tiniest of help from his father when he got a bit stuck on one line. Q. then went and looked up the song and realized he’d been singing a few lines incorrectly. He tried to switch, but E. just fell about laughing every time Q. changed a word, so I guess we’re now stuck with Q.’s version!
I bought him a new puzzle this week because I’ve suspected for a while he’s really bored with the ones that have the pegs and the allotted spaces for the shapes. It was twelve pieces. We did it together once, and then he did it all by himself another four times that day. Whoops. Guess I’d better go and find some larger ones!
He is very sensitive to other people’s emotions, and often comes home from nursery school with stories of why one of the other children ended up crying. If we’re out and we hear a baby crying he’ll comment on it and then speculate as to why the baby might be crying. He usually guesses that the baby is hungry or the baby doesn’t want to be in the stroller/on the streetcar. Going through the separation anxiety with nursery school has meant that he has the vocabulary to talk about his own feelings, so I’m often told that “it’s hard to say goodbye” to something, whether that be Mummy, the park, the pancake at breakfast, or his garbage truck when it’s time to go to nursery school.