This is the difference between a baby and a toddler. When you have a baby, and the baby falls a few inches off the couch, you have a panic attack, call your husband in tears, and write a blog about it. When you have a toddler and the toddler smacks his head into a cinder block, or falls face-first down four cement stairs, you don’t even mention it. You just happen to post photos of your bruised and battered child, like this or this, that cause your sister to ask, “Um. What happened to David’s face?”
David became a toddler, that’s what happened to his face.
The two other Davids in my family, my brother David and my Uncle David, spent most of their childhoods in the emergency room getting stitches and their arms put in casts and their concussions checked. Maybe that’s something to take into consideration when choosing a namesake.
We spent most of this month sick. David got sick, then I got sick, then Tom got sick and still recovered before me. I spent most of a week on the couch trying to convince David to watch some TV already. He never really watched TV, instead he played quietly while I coughed on the couch, or stacked books on me while I lay beside him on the floor.
David has also fallen into a great schedule. He wakes up somewhere between 6 a.m., and 7:30 a.m., and the two or three blissful times he’s slept until 7:30 a.m., Tom and I are convinced he’s going to do it every morning…but he never does.
I recently discovered that if I put him down for his afternoon nap at 1 p.m. instead of 12:30, he’ll sleep for at least two hours, instead of an hour and a half. Add that to the list of unsolved baby mysteries. I don’t understand it, but I’ll do it.
I was obviously getting a little too comfortable with that schedule, because last week David decided he wasn’t going to nap. He hasn’t skipped a nap in a very long time, so long that I didn’t even know what to do. No one ever fully understands the horror of a skipped nap until they have kids. Skipped naps are not annoying, they are tragedies.
Imagine you have to work long hours, including nights and weekends. It’s a bummer, but you’ve made peace with your job’s demands, you’re dealing with it. Then out of no where you find out you have to have to work on Christmas day, a day you had been looking forward to for a whole year! You were planning to spend Christmas with loved ones opening presents and drinking egg nog!
That’s what skipped naps are. Skipped naps = Christmas is cancelled.
Oh, and while you’re working on Christmas day, your boss is going to sit beside you and scream.
David is talking more and more, and my favorite thing about this milestone is that it helps me understand the psyche of a toddler. If what is coming out of David’s mouth has been going on in his head, I understand his tantrums a little better.
When David sees a ball, he doesn’t say, “Oh, look at that ball. I’d like to play with it.”
Instead, he starts saying BALL! at a rate of 90 times a minute with no breaks for breathing or logic.
I spend a large portion of each day on some sort of ball rescue mission. We have over a hundred balls in our house – that number is not an exaggeration – and no matter how hard I try to hide, put away or otherwise contain them, they end up behind chairs, bookshelves, dressers, and under the couch.
David now takes his naps with at least four balls. I’m sure he’d like more, but that would just be ridiculous.
I started counting his words, and he says about 30 words (including animal sounds) and will repeat nearly anything I say. He has some work to do in pronunciation, though, because “chair” sounds an awful lot like “juice.”
This is a funny age because kids this age don’t talk much, and it’s hard to tell what they understand. But one thing’s for sure: they’re watching everything you do.
The other day while I was getting dressed I gave David a basket of things to dig through — like my hair dryer, curling iron, and other things I haven’t used in over a year.
David picked up the curling iron and looked at the cord, then looked back at me, then looked back at the cord. Then he ran into the living room and unplugged a lamp and tried to plug in the curling iron.
How is David supposed to understand the sentence, “You are not allowed to burn the house down!” when it doesn’t contain the word “ball” even once?
Last night we gave David cooked carrots. Instead of eating them, he put them on his fork, raised it to his mouth, opened it, and then put his fork behind his head as if he’d eaten it. He finished the charade by smiling proudly and then DOING IT AGAIN.
Who is teaching my kid this stuff? IS IT YOU?????
It’s funny, with all these changes, some things are still the same. The most obvious is David’s ongoing love for balls, but he also still loves attention from strangers, is still head strong, easily frustrated, can’t get enough of his daddy, and is obsessed with our cat.
As much fun as it is to watch changes, it’s just as fun to watch what stays the same. It’s all part of knowing my little guy, who so quickly grew from a baby to a toddler, and who will one day be a little boy, and eventually a young man.
Sometimes I’ll mention something innocuous about Tom around his mom, like something about how he loves strawberries, and she’ll smile and say, “You know, he loved strawberries when he was a little boy. He used to say he imagined heaven would be a place where he’d sit on a mountain of strawberries and eat them all day.”
It’s one of the many blessings of being a parent, getting to know a person as they grow; it’s a privilege to watch all the changing and staying the same.
One of my favorite things about staying at home with you is that we get to be slow in the mornings. Sure, you start each day at 60mph. As soon as we take you out of your crib you start running around the house looking for balls and body slamming the cat, but besides that we get to stay in our pajamas, leave the breakfast dishes in the sink, and snack on Cheerios for as long as we want.
That sort of pace works well for me, especially with you. If we have an errand, we put it off until you get antsy, and we always come home in time for lunch. Sometimes we make play dates and sometimes we don’t go anywhere at all. On those days we just make messes all over the house and when Daddy gets home we just shrug our shoulders and say, “Don’t worry about the mess, Daddy, we had fun today.”
And yes, this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Yes, it would be nice to sleep in, and yes, mopping the floor after every meal does get old. But the day you decided to not nap — I want to write this here so I don’t forget it — I was holding you while you screamed through your exhaustion and I sang to you and rubbed your back to help you calm down. After a few long minutes you did calm down, and you took your sweet little hand and you rubbed my back. You’ve never done that before, and that small gesture changed the moment from frustrating to wonderful, a wonderful I never experienced until you.
If it wasn’t for you I would have never known life could be so good.