This month Thomas got a new nickname. We’re calling him Screamy. And it’s not an affectionate nickname or a clever nickname, it is a very literal nickname given by two parents who are exhausted by a sweet little imp named Screamy.
Thomas has hit his stride as a toddler. He’s realized that though he is small, he has to power to completely change and direct our entire family. He can climb, he can destroy, he can throw himself at my feet and scream, and if all else fails he can just keep me awake all night. Lots of options.
Thomas is sort of like the bully of our family. The adorable, cuddly, loves to play peek-a-boo bully. He toddles into the room, surveys the area like, “Looks like everyone is happy in here. Let’s see how I can shake this up.”
He uncovers Mary Virginia’s sleeping dolls, he slaps David’s cars off their tracks, and he empties out my cabinets. He can reach the counters, climb on the couch, and turn on the TV. The first time he climbed onto the dining room table I didn’t even know until he started crying because stood up and hit his head on the chandelier.
Yesterday I was trying to make dinner and he pushed open our mudroom door to get to the cat food. I pulled him away and said to him, “CAN YOU JUST DO SOMETHING BENIGN?”
I think that’s how you know the toddler has won. When you suggest that they do something benign.
Thomas’s favorite toy is my phone. His distant-second favorite is Tom’s phone. Third favorite is our Apple TV remote.
He’s starting to play with toys like a big kid, though. I’m amazed at how much he mirrors his brother and sister. He drives cars on the ground or holds airplanes in the air making zooming noises.
He holds crayons and markers and tries to draw just like they do, he tries to sit on the balance bike, and when they’re reading books he crawls between them and sits on the book just to be included.
He even holds a cup up to the automatic ice dispenser on our refrigerator because he sees David do it. Next time he wakes up I might walk him into his siblings’ room and show him how they sleep through the night. If there’s anything to emulate, that’s it.
Thomas can’t think of one reason he can’t climb to the top of every piece of playground equipment, or take a solo stroll around our neighborhood pond. He just wants to be included, to be a big kid.
This month has been hard on Thomas. He’s partially cut two molars, and has started the process of giving up his morning nap. Neither of those things are easy for little ones, but he has taken it like a champ.
On the days Thomas only takes one nap, he generally only naps 45 minutes. But, true to my laid back third baby, he rarely complains. As long as he has a Paw Patrol game to destroy or a chair to climb on, he barely even notices his molars.
Occasionally David wrestles with Thomas, and those are his happiest moments. Even when it gets too rough, even when Thomas bonks his head, he is thrilled.
Thomas is beginning to be more verbal, but mostly he’s just showing more understanding of what we’re saying. He says bits of words, but rarely on command. But when I tell him to find David or get his ball — he knows exactly what to do.
He loves when I hold him upside down, which he signals me to do by saying GO! GO! And he walks around saying, UH OH! Usually after, say, dumping the cat food bowl over his head. “Uh oh,” in Thomas’s economy, covers a multitude of sins.
Thomas loves to play. He loves balls, he loves cars, he loves trains, he thinks peek-a-boo is a miracle. When I play peek-a-boo, he cannot believe it; that he was born into a family with a mother who is so magical.
When he wakes up from his nap every day we stay in his room for a while — just the two of us — and play with baby toys we keep there.
Yesterday we were playing with his stacker, and I was marveling at his patience as he figured out how to get the rings on. He tried several times and instead of getting frustrated he kept at it, moving the ring until he figured it out. (I distinctly remember his brother doing the same thing with a very different result.)
Once he got it, I clapped and celebrated, and he lifted the ring and hit me in the forehead with it. When I said “OW!” his face changed, and he softly placed his hand on my head where he’d hit me.
The days full of mischief and wile are normal toddler stuff. A hundred moms will tell you that their kid scales the stairs and empties cabinets.
Thomas’s wildness directs my day, but the moments of sweetness that are unique to him; they’re the little moments that are big, and show me the kind of kid Thomas is growing to be.
You’re exhausting me. All day, all night, you’re on the go, up the stairs, in this, in that, and I cannot keep up. I just can’t. I’ve stopped trying. Now I just weigh whether what you’re doing is worth it so I can have a moment, just a moment.
Yesterday I made spaghetti, a simple meal that I make without a recipe and barely any ingredients, yet with you at my feet I felt like a finalist in Hell’s Kitchen. You kept throwing balls onto the stove, which is annoying at best, dangerous at worst. I’ve never seen a kid do that, so you’re ingenious, I’ll give you that.
Every morning, your daddy gets you out of your crib while I’m still in bed. You push open our bedroom door and the first thing I see every morning is the top of your head, bobbing up and down as you circumnavigate the bed. You babble, “Mama?Mama?Mama?Mama?” Until you see me, and even though it happens every morning, you act like I’m the greatest surprise, “MAMA!MAMA!”
And we hug and reunite after the painful hour or so that we were separated since the last time you woke up.
That’s how my days starts. And it’s the best way.