Thirty months. Two and a half. Somehow the latter seems more impressive. You’re in your late 2s. Three is just around the corner, and before we know it you’ll be challenging me at Scrabble and talking fluent Spanish. And maybe, finally, out of diapers.
Your energy levels have spiked, just as the days have gotten colder and shorter. A bad combination. Mama struggles to give you enough activities each day to sufficiently wear you out before naps. When not done properly, the energy translates into overturned tables and tipped-over little sisters. Not that you’re being intentionally mean — even when you admit you’re “being a jerk!” — you just need to express your inner Hulk. I get it. This is why we’re enrolling you in UFC For Tots.
Actually, our savior is that little white strider tricyle. You continue to ride it up and down the hall, and around the block, to the park, the “backsetball core” and the supermarket (“and farmer’s market”). Sometimes we throw it in the car with us so you can explore other parts of the city. A few weeks back we took you and it to watch a cyclocross race at Montrose Harbor. You fit right into the scene, earning the admiration of the latex-clad pros who’d pass by. I had to keep you on a tight leash, lest you merge into race traffic and find yourself trampled by a pack of angry, muddied cyclists.
In other news, we’ve finally, happily lured you away from the crib. My memory is that we did this with promising you stickers for good behavior. This somehow worked. And even though we stopped the whole sticker gambit weeks ago, you still don’t think about jumping in. Which means you and Zella are back in one room, mostly sleeping. Occasionally one of you will implore the other to talk and play, and naps will just refuse to happen.
When you wake up (or, stay awake at naptime), you immediately alert us, “I want to play!” Your talent at puzzles, both jigsaw and more abstract, like the puzzle of how to make train tracks form a loop or go up a hill, is awe-inspiring. You will obsessively work on a certain toy or game, solving its intricacies, and then lay it aside for a few weeks to let your insights percolate. When you return to it, as you have this month with train tracks in a big way, you have always jumped a level in your abilities. The other day you stayed by yourself in the living room for twenty minutes, and when you were done, you had constructed a train track that went up hill and continued, with carefully laid supports, to run above ground for several feet. “Thomas got a branch line!" you cheerfully announced.
Your vocabulary and handle on grammar grows, though your counting skills have stalled. Currently, when we ask what comes past then, we’re told it’s “eleven”, then “fourteenteenteen”, and then “eleventeenteen”. You still love to count objects, if not exactly correctly. The answer is always something like “one two three six nine ten!”, no matter how many there really are. You’ve picked up a sizeable piece of the alphabet song, from where we’re not sure. We haven’t sung it in months. Maybe it just took some time to ripen.
The most amusing new speech development is the variety of your methods of rejection. We offer you something you don’t want? “Don’t like it!” Propose a new activity you reject? “Don’t want to.” Ask you to do something you’re against? “Can’t!” It’d be frustrating except your mood will turn on a dime the moment we hit the one thing you do want. “Listen to the dinosaur song?” Frown turns upside down, eyes sparkles with delight, and you emit a pronounced “zzzzzzYES!”
Finally — and I hesitate to even bring this up because it was a one-afternoon phenomenon, but it’s seminal — you finally picked up on the word “fuck”. We’ve been loose with it around you, because you never seemed to repeat it. Then one day I said it, casually, and you repeated it. That shocked Mom and I into silence and wide-eyed shock. You said it again. Eyes widened even more. We resisted reaction, knowing the wrong move could seal the word’s taboo-ness, and its appeal, forever. You said it again. And again and again, rattling it off a dozen times in a row. Finally I lost it, falling to the floor in laughter. I was so proud, yet so embarrassed, in anticipation of the days to come.
That was a week ago, and you haven’t said it since. I am counting my fucking stars.