Thomas is 14 months old.
By the time his siblings were 14 months old, I was already pregnant, and so they both remember month 14 as “the month Mommy fell asleep.”
But this time I’m not pregnant, and I’m still exhausted. Which makes me wonder, was I exhausted the past two times because of pregnancy? Or because having a 14-month-old is just plain exhausting.
Thomas is happy and curious and determined. He walks around smiling and destroying things at a rate of twice as fast as I can clean up.
Thomas takes his role as a toddler very seriously. We went to visit a friend and as soon as I set him down he went for the dog bowl, then the trash, then the diaper genie. As we scrambled to grab his hand before he stuck it in the toilet, she asked, “Why does he go for all the gross stuff?”
My best guess is because he’s a toddler. That’s what toddlers do.
He’s hardwired right now to grow, move, and discover. I try to remind myself of that when he screams when I try to dress him, or when I have to pull him off the stairs again.
Thomas spends a lot of time climbing onto things and then calling for me to get him down — the couch, our console table, the art table. He knows when I’m distracted, and heads straight for the stairs, the trash can, the cat food — each of which has been baby proofed. But it has not been wrecking ball-proofed. Nothing is ever completely wrecking ball-proofed.
This month Thomas has started walking. He’s pretty steady on his feet and walks with an adorable bow-legged, jerky-kneed stride. He often walks into rooms, stomps both feet sumo-wrestler style, flings his hands behind his back and starts laughing and smiling.
It’s the best entrance I’ve ever seen.
Thomas has started talking, he says just a few words, but he never says them, because why talk when you can SHOUT? When I say, “Say Ma-Ma” He shouts back at me, “MAMA! MAMA!” It sounds the way I would imagine a goat would, if it was learning to say “mama.”
He shout-says everything with a southern accent, stretching one-syllable words into three or four syllables. I say “ball” and he says, “bah-w-u-l.”
He says uh-oh, and when Tom bye as he leaves for work, Thomas replies “Byedada!” Any other time he says “dada” it sounds like, “MAMAMAMA…dada?…MAMAMA!”
Thomas has atrocious table manners. He’s flippant and moody about food, and when he decides he doesn’t want something, he starts flinging it off his tray. He does it frantically and aggressively, as if the Feds are coming in and he has to destroy evidence.
Scrambled eggs? Who? Me? I wasn’t eating scrambled eggs, as you can see from my clean tray and the scrambled eggs on the wall to my left.
When he starts throwing food, we tell him no and try to take away the food before he can hurl it into the living room.
When I tell him no, I say NO! NO! NO! NO! Over and over, shouting with force and authority and it’s like he can’t even hear me.
When Tom says no? He says it one time, and Thomas melts. He starts screaming, insulted and devastated. If you could only hear the interchange and not see it, you would think that Tom said “no” and then also started pulling off Thomas’s toenails.
I’ve tried lowering my voice, but it hasn’t worked. Instead I think I’m going to record Tom saying it. And one day, when Thomas recounts to his therapist that his mother used to haunt him with the sound of his father’s “no,” I’m going to throw an egg directly on his living room floor. Then he’ll understand.
Thomas cut two teeth this month, which made everything else a little more complicated. Is he fussy, not sleeping, throwing himself on the floor, all because his teeth are hurting? Or is it because he has an ear infection, because he’s bored, or because I’m a terrible mother? Or is it because he’s dissatisfied by his options for our next president? I’m blaming a lot of his mood swings on these campaigns.
Usually when Thomas is fussy, it’s just because he wants to play. He fusses when I’m making my coffee because he wants me to hold him. He fusses when his siblings are coloring because he wants to be included. He fusses at his ball when it’s under the couch. But when I’m focused on him, and playing something he enjoys, well then he’s perfectly happy. He’s the third kid, so that sort of individual attention doesn’t happen very much. This month I’ve spent a lot of time reminding myself that it’s not Thomas’s fault for requesting it.
This afternoon I was unloading the dishwasher, and I walked away for a moment because your siblings were screaming at each other. When I came back, you’d finished the job. You were surrounded by plates and measuring cups and spoons.
I wanted to be mad, but I reminded myself that it was my fault — I’d left the dishwasher open and unattended. You are 14 months old. You can’t be trusted to make good decisions. I quickly gathered everything, then sat down with you to pick up the silverware and I noticed how you hitting a spoon on the floor. So I sat down with you, and tapped two spoons together. You reached for them and copied me, then handed them back.
We sat there playing for a few moments, and then Mary Virginia came over and picked up two spoons, and David did the same. The four of us sat together and clinked spoons together and laughed. It was simple, sweet, unexpected, and delightful.
I’m writing about it because you won’t remember it otherwise.
And because I want you to know how much energy, brightness, and fun you bring to every day.