Thursday, January 8, 2009

almost eighteen

Wow, so we've finally reached the elusive "18 month" mark. Almost. Technically the big day is Saturday, but by then we will be en route to Eldo, and I tend to get a little laz----er, ahem, busy when I am out of town and blogging slows down. And this is such a big one that I can't let it go unposted. I feel like I've been anticipating (dreading...?) this milestone because for some reason, in my mind, this age marks the beginning of "kidhood", the point where babies are no longer babies, where toddler-like behavior takes over completely and babiness is left behind, a distant memory only to be relived through pictures and blogposts. Nevermind that Alex pretty much left babyhood behind months ago. But now it's official.

As you may or may not have read in my last post, we finally had another well child visit to confirm what we suspected about Alex - that he is a happy, healthy, growing boy. He is constantly outgrowing his clothes and shoes, and while I hate to have to pack my faves away in the "little brother* hand-me-down" box, that just means that I get to...have to go out and buy him new ones. And that means that my toddler gets to stay on top of the trends, while I'm spending hours picking pills off of my three-seasons-ago Old Navy sweaters. Is this what they mean by "sacrificing" for your children?

Recently - the last couple of weeks in particular - we have seen a marked difference in Alex's vocabulary. We ran by the church to drop off his tuition, and while we were in the office writing the check, Alex was holding a conversation with the secretary, her daughter, and the head of Mother's Day Out who said, "My, Alex, is it just me or are you talking up a storm compared to last week?"

Thing is, it's not necessarily a huge increase in the number of words he can say, but how he says them. I'm not sure how to describe the difference, really, but I guess it's like he's starting to "get it", like a little light has gone on in the grammar-building part of his brain. Now don't get me wrong, by no means is the kid composing sonnets or reciting portions of Paradise Lost in German while rubbing cheese into his hair. But it is clear by the way he talks that he understands the concept of sentences, that you say a few words and then wait for someone to reply. And if no one replies, it is perfectly acceptable to answer your own questions. Now, his jabbering includes inflections and pauses, as if he's imitating our patterns of speech. In fact, his ability and/or willingness to imitate improved greatly this month, whether it be gestures or words or sounds. Sometimes he will start doing something new, and I'll wonder where the heck did he learn that? just as I look down to find that I'm doing that very thing myself.

This month, he debuted several new words including "moon", "box", "shoes", and his new favorite, "book". He occasionally shouts, "I did it!" when he accomplishes something, or at least something that sounds exactly like it. He can tell you that a sheep says "baaa", and if you ask him where something is, like on the page of a book, he will point and say "right d'ere!" He says "hi d'ere" and "bye d'ere" to everyone he sees, and has recently perfected his "big boy wrist wave", as opposed to the "one hand clapping" method he was using before. After a little encouragement, he has finally learned to say "no" when he means no and "yes"...well, "yeth", when he means yes, which is the most effective set of words he's learned since "this" and "that". We've attempted to curb his habit of whining for what he wants by training him to say "help" when he needs it, and when combined with "yes", "no", "more" and "all done", that pretty much covers the basics.

He is obsessed with books and would prefer to have someone read to him every minute of every day. He is starting to point at letters and tries to make letter sounds, and he loves to sit on our laps while we draw words and pictures on paper so he can talk about them. When he's not "reading", he is climbing, pulling things off of shelves, sticking things in holes (got his fingers stuck in the VCR twice), raiding the pantry for snacks, throwing toys around his playroom, smacking things with other things, and maybe, just maybe, he sits still long enough to watch the occasional educational film or television program. Like Ratatouille. Which is educational if you want your kid to become a chef or a foodie, which I am so all about. We run errands or play at the park whenever possible, which helps us from going stir-crazy/fat, although the shopping cart has become the bain of his existence, and thus, grocery shopping with Alex has become the bain of mine.

He has boundless energy, and while I appreciate his eagerness and curious nature and love to spend time with him, I am more than ready for his nap time each day, and even more so for his bedtime at night. I am realizing that I just can't meet his energy level at this age such that I can keep him entertained all day, every day. Which is why the Mother's Day Out program has been such a blessing, where other kids run him ragged and some other lady changes his poopy diapers while I get a few hours to rest and recoup. And while those hours were not very restful after the first couple of times I left him in hysterics, he quickly adjusted to his new routine. After three days, he decided school was okay and walked right into his class without so much as a tear in his eye, nevermind a kiss goodbye or an "I'll miss you dearly, Mom". When I pick him up each afternoon, his teacher tells me how sweet and happy he is, and how he has made so many friends.

Btw, have I ever mentioned how funny this kid is? I know that most kids are funny, but I just like to point out that mine is no exception. Of course, what he thinks is funny these days usually involves punching or kicking or violence of any kind. For example, his father loves to say, "knockout punch!" and pretend to punch him in the face, making the appropriate corresponding boy noise, of course, so now Alex will walk around the house, punching himself in the face and saying "ptttcchhh-pttccchhh!" I'm pretty sure we're gonna get a call from DHFS one of these days, or more likely from one of his teachers who has "concerns" about our child's "behavior". And when they do, what I will tell them is, "Talk to his father".

The older he gets, the more I seem to love him, and while that would not have seemed possible a month ago, it has proven to be true. I am often overwhelmed with frustration that I just can't squeeze him hard enough or smooch him often enough or let him know how loved he really is. But somehow, I kind of think he knows. At least, I hope so.

*Please do not mistake this reference to mean that there is a "little brother" in the works. Maybe, someday, if a little bro comes along, he will be wearing Alex's old clothes. And if not, we will have some very stylish little nephews...


leah said...

Who did you get to pose in these pictures in place of Alex?? Cause I KNOW my nephew doesnt look that old!! What in the world?!?! Is he 18 months or 18 years???

sarah rose said...

Those pictures are great! I can't believe how old Alex is! Seeing the adventures of Alex makes me so excited for the adventures of JJ. :)

Amy said...

Those picture of him hamming it up in the tub are awesome!!! It's amazing how much a change in hairdo changes his look! They are all sooo great! I HAVE to have the one of him painting our art in my studio!!!
Oh- I hate that we are missing a single day of him (and you) growing up. (And it's snowing here again). Do you have room for a gardner's shed out back? You'll never even notice I'm there.....