His favourite things (31/32 months)

What he’s doing:

Bossing us around. Negotiating on everything he possibly can. Talking a mile a minute  non-stop. Asking us to tell him a story and then telling us exactly how he wants the story to go. Then memorizing the story the first time and freaking out if we change anything (because we can’t remember it) when he inevitably wants to hear it again. Demanding to play hide-and-seek- he’s mastered 80% of the game but hasn’t yet realized that a) you shouldn’t hide in plain sight (like lying on the carpet in the middle of the hallway) and b) you shouldn’t yell out where you are when someone asks, “Where’s E.?” (“You behind the door!”). Wanting to join in “family cuddles” where we all lie on the couch together. This used to be restful before he was born. Now it resembles being on a couch with a small octopus as he wriggles and jumps and climbs and asks over and over again for “Daddy to tickle you with his feet!” Hiding under the blanket with me in the late afternoons- we lie on the couch together and I pull the big afghan my grandmother made for me over us both. Dressing himself- he’s fine with pants provided they don’t have buttons or zippers, and he can manage a shirt if I help him figure out which way is the front (with pants he tells himself “the tag goes at the back”). He gets worried with shirts because a lot of them are tight over his (larger than average) head, even the polos and others with a more open neck than t-shirts.

Also? NOT napping. He was really really sick in early December and right after that I realized he was starting to skip naps on days where he wasn’t at nursery school (he’s only ever napped once at nursery school, but we’d been in a good pattern all fall of him napping the other four days when he was at home). Then he started going five, six, eight days in a row before he’d nap. And although he was tired and harder to deal with at the end of the day, he wasn’t a wreck. We were away for a week between Christmas and New Year’s, and he napped twice. I think he’s only napped once since we’ve returned home- it took him over two hours to fall asleep, he fell asleep with toys and books in his crib and with the overhead light on, and taking that nap completely ruined his mood for the whole rest of the afternoon. Luckily he seems to be happy to play in his crib quietly for ninety minutes or two hours and accepts this as “quiet time” so my work schedule hasn’t been completely scuttled. But I’m not going to lie- on days where he didn’t quite get enough sleep the previous night, he is BRUTAL to deal with by about 4:30 p.m. or so.

What he’s playing with:

If I had to sum up E.’s thirty-first month in one word it would be: PUZZLES. Right at the start of the month I bought him (on a whim) a twelve piece puzzle only to discover that he could do it without help the second time through.  I then went out and bought him more (hurrah for Winners and their outrageously discounted pricing). It was a real eye opener as to just how badly I had been underestimating his ability. We went from twelve pieces, to twenty-four, to forty-eight within a couple of weeks. I ended up having to return two puzzles I’d bought him for Christmas because they would have been too easy by the time we gave them to him! The puzzle mania eased off a little bit in the thirty-second month, mainly because he mastered every puzzle we owned. He was given a bunch of new ones for Christmas, so that will keep him busy for a while (and allow me to rotate them around a bit more).

On his shelves this month:

3 January. New things on his shelves post- Christmas.

The top left space has three big floor puzzles: an alphabet train from M&D, a farm, and a dump truck, as well as eeboo’s Life on Earth matching game. He’s a bit young for the matching game right now, but he’ll grow into it. The middle space is his basket of small cars and trucks. The top right is the bunny house my mother made for him:

31 December. E's Bunny House, made by his Grannie.

31 December.

The bottom left has his alphabet blocks (Uncle Goose) which have become very popular at the moment. Bottom middle is his Plan Toys pirate ship, and bottom right is his Duplo. The shelves have pretty much stayed the same since we got back home from visiting after Christmas. In his cubby under the stairs his Bruder garbage truck and his wooden double decker bus have been joined by the Bruder dump truck/digger combo Santa brought at Christmas. I’d say he spends 60% of his time right now playing “construction” of some sort, 20% playing some version of “house”, 10% puzzles, and 10% other things.

What he’s reading:

Thirty-one months was all about Lost and Found and The Water Hole. We found them both at the library and I ended up buying him The Water Hole for Christmas because he loved it so much, and I loved it too (I adored Animalia as a child). He also really got into our Christmas books, especially The Poky Little Puppy’s First Christmas and A Porcupine in a Pine Tree (A Canadian Twelve Days of Christmas), although that one caused a huge emotional crisis. Then he made this huge leap and suddenly only wanted to read the longest books we had in the house (like Blueberries for Sal). We came back from visiting at Christmas with a bunch of Robert Munsch and some Berenstain Bears (all left over from when I was a kid) and he is obsessed with the Berenstain Bears. I read those books all day every day right now, and he keeps telling us how he’s going to move to a treehouse just like they do, and how he’ll go on a picnic and they’ll be there and they’ll all have lemonade together.

What he’s saying:

Mid- November:
E.: “You want to decorate the Christmas tree.”
Me: “No, E., we’re not going to do that. Christmas is too far away still. We’ll decorate when it’s December.”
E. continues asking, becoming progressively more and more agitated. Tantrum approaching, it’s late on a Saturday afternoon and Q. and I just want a bit of peace and quiet.
Me: “E., we’re not going to decorate the Christmas tree. Do you want to watch a garbage truck video instead?”
E.: “Yeah!”
The next day
E.: “Want to decorate the Christmas tree!”
Me: “We’re not doing that today, little love. I’m sorry.”
E.: “Watch a garbage truck video instead? Maybe just one teeny tiny video?”
Parents stunned into silence, realizing their toddler makes connections faster than they do.

Me: “Be careful, E. I think the grilled cheese could still be hot.”
E.: “NO! It not hot! Not hot!”
Me: “Well, E., it just came out of the oven, so it could be. Just check and blow on it if you need to.”
Me: “Ok, E., fine. It’s not hot. I’m not going to argue with you.”
E.: “You want Mummy to argue with you. You want to keep arguing.”
My life has turned into a Monty Python sketch.

After buying a red potty like he asked for:
E.: *carrying the red potty around the room* “It’s an airplane!”
Me: “Do you want to sit on the airplane, E.?”
E.: *looking at me with deep suspicion. “When you older. Right now you want to wear diapers.”

Watching one of the cats investigating his snack:
E.: “Yiyi eating your snack! She should be eating her own snack!”

In the bath:
E.: “Want to tell Mummy a story. Once upon there were two bunnies. They were in the garden eating grass. They were eating flowers too. Outside Bunny was eating flowers and Biccie Bunny was eating grass. And they were eating waffles on plates with peanut butter for a special treat.”

At breakfast, perfectly cheerful:
E.: “I’m planning on having a horrible day at nursery school.”

Discussing travel arrangements for Boxing Day:
E.: “You want Mummy to sit next to you in the car… You a little bit worried about being alone.”
We agree that we should bring Caramel the cougar and she can sit next to him the whole time.
E.: “We can’t forget Canamel. We’d have to drive back home and then drive back to get her!”
More discussion about who would be in the car.
E.: “When I get a bit bigger I can drive. Then Mummy and Daddy can sit in the backseat!”

Opening a present from his Granny on Skype on Christmas Eve:
Me: “What do you think it is, E.?”
E.: “Duplo. Because of the sound it made.”
He was right.

Christmas Eve:
E.: “Have to have a really good sleep because Santa is coming!”
Then slept through until 8 a.m.!

Christmas Day, after playing with Santa present for about five minutes:
E.: “Want to see if there is something for Mummy and Daddy too.”
Cue hearts melting.

Christmas Day, post (very short) nap:
Q.: “Should we go for a walk?”
E.: “NO! Don’t want to go outside because it is very snowy.”
E.: “Don’t like the forecast.”

On being asked if he’d like to go out to dinner:
E.: *runs to window* “Are we sure I can go outside? It’s very dark out.”

While watching me get dressed:
E.: “Mummy wearing underwear? It hides Mummy’s bum!”

While helping me cut loose threads off the couches:
E.: “Mummy tells the cats to stop scratching. Mummy says, ‘Hey you, stop doing that!’ But the cats really don’t.”

When my sister had been looking after him so I could go to the clinic:
Me: “E., do you want to draw a nice picture to say thank you to Auntie C.?”
E.: “Yeah!” *runs and gets a piece of paper, chooses a peach marker, uncaps it, and makes one small vertical line in the centre of the (very large) sheet. Takes it to his auntie.* “There you go.”
C.: “Thank you, E.! What is it?”
Given he’s been into minimalist art lately we were both expecting him to tell us it was a truck or a boat or something similar.
E.: “It’s a piece of paper.”

When playing with his Plan Toys pirate ship:
E.: “This one is wearing an eye patch.”
Me: “That’s right. He’s lost an eye.”
E.: *thoughtful* “Maybe he’s playing hide and seek with it.”

What I’ve noticed:

Two and a half is exhilarating and exhausting in equal measures. The hard physical exhaustion of child rearing is behind us and we’re all getting enough sleep, but he is just so intense, almost all the time. He NEVER stops talking. He catches on to things far faster than we expect. He is an emotional whirlwind after being even tempered for so long. I’m not going to say we’re in the terrible twos, because when he’s on an even keel he is so much fun, but the meltdowns are much more frequent and much more intense than they used to be. He gets on recurrent feedback loops (about stories, about food, about the games we play) and it’s harder and harder to distract him and break the loop.

He’s becoming ever more introverted. He had a really hard time with extended family while we were away visiting over the holidays. The grandparents were all fine, as was my sister, but any extra family caused him to clam right up and seek solace in another (quieter) room. He tells me all the time that something is “too yowd” and he doesn’t “yike” it. The other day he tried to convince Q. he was sick so he couldn’t go to nursery school, then had the biggest meltdown Q.’s ever had to deal with. Q. asked him at one point why he didn’t want to go, and E. thought for a while before saying that nursery school was “too yowd” (I spend a morning there every week- it’s really not an overly loud environment). E. has even refused to allow me to read a particular book because the front cover shows a house with lots of people in it and he feels it will be “too yowd” as well.

He is SO sensitive and self-aware. He’s also really anxious. Q. had the bright idea of turning his crib around so we could lower the drop side during the IVF tww- if E. stood on a chair he could then step into the crib. We managed to get him to do it (and now he loves it and won’t let either of us lift him in or out), but the first time he was literally shaking with terror and crying, “I’m scared!”.

The other interesting thing is he’s stopped sucking his thumb. He was never very reliant on it except for when he was going to sleep. Q. and I realized that when he got up in the morning and was still sleepy and fuzzy, although he’d still rub his bunny around his face, he was no longer putting his thumb in his mouth. While away over the holidays he was sleeping at my Dad’s house on a mattress on the floor, so one of us would lie down with him, and we both noticed he wasn’t using his thumb at all. So we checked his hand, and the callus is gone. Both Q. and I needed parental intervention (at a much older age) to stop finger/thumb sucking, so we’re thrilled he’s done it all on his own.

His imaginative play is fantastic. He self-narrates, and we love listening to him talk to himself while we’re finishing dinner. The other day he got out one of the laundry baskets, told us it was a pirate ship, and then sat on Q.’s backpack, told us it was a rowboat, and then “rowed” himself out to the pirate ship.

He is a LOT of work right now, but it is so worth it. His language use and speech just blow my mind. We have lengthy, thoughtful conversations now. I love it, and the exciting part is I know it’s just going to keep getting better.

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Filed under E.- the third year, Letters to E.

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