This Sunday we will officially have a two-year-old kid.
I have so much still to do: make the party favor CDs, find him a Mylar balloon (he fell in love with one at someone’s house last year, so I’ve had it in mind all this time to give him one for his second birthday), put together the used Learning Tower we got for a great deal, wrap the toddler-sized tennis racquet we got him and the Dragon tail his grandmom sent, finish choosing photos for his first-two-years album, finish the quilt I started for him this weekend (more on that soon).
But what feels most important is to make a record of what this gregarious, joyful, kind ball of constant energy is like at two, so I’m taking a few minutes away from work and all of this (above) to do that today. Please forgive the bragginess that is a post like this. In fact, unless you’re family (in any of its forms) and are, therefore, required to adore our child, you may just want to sit this one out. ;)
I have another post coming about what it is to be a mama two years in, so I’ll try to get to that too. And I’ll try to get my wife to write a pomo-at-two-years post. I would like to read that. But for now, here is our Bramble Bug after two whole worlded years:
- Bram is super verbal, and his memory is astonishing. He gets quiet around others sometimes, but when he’s home he’s speaking in adorable (and near-constant) sentences now. Sometimes his sentences make sense: Mama, Bram have nother crayon pyease OR Bram sitting in driveway OR BIG dinosaur in that room! OR See Bubbie today OR Hear firetruck, pomo, helpers. Other times they come out of left field. Mama, Dan Amy have two kayaks. (They don’t.) He can hear a simple song once or twice and have half of it memorized already. He knows the authors of practically all of his books (and will tell you them when you sit down to read), and he can recite about half of the words from each book, even if it’s been months since we read them. I’m pretty sure he knows the names of more animals than I did before he was born. And we’ll say something when he’s in the backseat or playing in the other room and hours or even days later he’ll ask about it. It seems important to him, this kind of mastery, as he asks for the same books, and songs, and phrases to be read, and sung, and repeated over and over again. Sometimes he’ll ask that the same page of a book be read a dozen or so times in a row. Then he’ll move on, having (apparently) absorbed it to his satisfaction. It can get mundane, the repetition, but I’m so proud of his focus that it’s rarely hard to motivate myself to read or sing and say something one more time, mama. Yittle bit more, pyease. Again.
- He still loves to nurse, and he’s even recently taken up comfort nursing with me again, though I think that’s mostly in response to a (pregnancy-related) decrease in J’s milk. Most days, he only nurses in the morning when he comes into our bed, but some days, he wants more. Pomo milkies. Yittle bit milkies, pyease pomo? It is sweet. I’m so proud of the nursing relationship that J and B share. More on this in my mama update.
- He is exuberant, and how. He is all in at life. He can be cautious in busy situations, but even that he does with a fierce alertness. This part of him is both amazing and incredibly exhausting. He’s not hyper by any stretch, or rarely so, but he is almost constantly deeply engaged. As his primary caregiver, this means that I am almost constantly deeply engaged too, and wow: that is no joke. His focus in intense, though, and that’s helpful. If he’s stacking boxes, everything else around him ceases to exist. He’ll talk out loud. Puzzle it out. Almost never get frustrated, which is amazing because: he’s two. But then, the second he’s accomplished whatever he’s set out to do, he’s ready for something new to hurl himself into. I’m learning to take the focused bits for myself, but it’s hard not to just watch him in those spaces.
- He is laid back in some ways: he’s not possessive of his toys when friends come over to play, he’s rarely frazzled when they take his things from him or invade his projects, he’s super happy to either stay home or go out as our schedules allow, and he’s gotten positively mellow on car trips. But he has strong (and not at all easy-going) opinions about other things. When he wants us to sing a specific song, no other song will do. And he’ll let you know along the way if he wants it faster or slow slow or softer or youder. If he decides to carry his own snack to his table, he’s willing to reassure you that he’ll use both hands, but even one step towards the table with the snack in YOUR hands is a horrible oversight. He wants narratives to change per his specifications: he may decide that a book about dragons should be about fairies for awhile, or that a protagonist’s name should be changed for a particular reading. And if you mess it up even once (which you will), he will correct you. He is very bossy with Iris: mama, stop her if she’s making any noise that does not involve him. Iris come here. And (from a page he loves in Good Night, Good Night Construction Site): Hey, Iris: Pipe Down (and then laughter). And lordy: if he decides he has dirt in toes, be prepared to pick imaginary sock lint off for a good number of minutes if he’s to be satisfied that they’re sufficiently dirt-free. These things are easy to accommodate, so there’s rarely strife. And when there is, Bram never stays unhappy for long. He’s remarkable unpouty and the sentence, “Bram, can you listen so you can hear your options?” almost always works, as does “look at my eyes with your eyes so we can talk.”
- He is super imaginative, and not a small amount empathic. There are certain books – especially Hug by Jez Alborough – that we’ve all but stopped reading because Bram will actually start crying for poor Bobo, who can’t find his mommy to hug. Seriously: the horror of having no one to hug seems to hit Bram in waves with each page. He is rocked to the soul just imagining it. Real tears, quivering lip. It is both lovely and horrid to watch. He has also already entertained a number of alter egos. For awhile, after falling in love with the gorgeous Dragon Machine by Helen Ward and Wayne Anderson, he would only answer to “George.” Bram [is] George he would say, first every time we read the book, and later every time we said his name at all. Then he was Evan. Now he’s alternately Joshua Bell and Isaac. Evan and Isaac are two of his beloved Boysies, though he’s never even met Isaac (and only Skyped with him once). I’m still not sure what it is that makes Bram identify with/as someone else. He’s resolute about it, though, which is adorable. Joshua Bell hiding. Find Joshua Bell, he’ll say from the same hiding spot he always chooses (a spot in which the real Joshua Bell could not, incidentally, fit). And in unrelated but SO cute news: he’s started playing the finder, asking us to hide and – though he knows right where we are – walking around the living room saying, outside? nooooo. upstairs? nooooo. kitchen? nooooo. RIGHT THERE! FOUND YOU!
- He’s great at counting (to fourteen, though twelve is a trickster for him), and he can sing the alphabet song all by himself (though he won’t do it on request; it seems to need to come from the heart), but he’s not great yet at recognizing letters. He’s got all of the colors down, and he recently announced that his favorite is pink, which is sweet if odd given the almost absolute lack of pink in our house. He knows all of our full names, all of “I’ve been Working on the Railroad” (though he still needs a few prompts to stay on track), all of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” almost all of the old folk song, “The Fox,” and most of a few others. And he’s IN LOVE with any music that has either a horn or a string instrument. He can identify (by sight and sometimes by sound) the tuba, the trumpet, the slide trombone, the upright bass, and (his absolute favorite) the violin (thus his alter ego, Joshua Bell).
- His favorite songs to request of me right now are Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” (which I wish you could hear him say), Josh Ritter’s “Girl in the War,” (which he calls Paul and Peter) and “Amazing Grace,” the combination of which demonstrates that most of his early knowledge of religion comes through music. He’ll ask that these songs be repeated three or four times each, to varying tempos and volumes.
- His favorite foods right now are brown rice, broccoli, carrots, corn grits, anything curry, anything with lentils, most soups, tortilla chips, allergen-free pancakes, grapes, avocados (and guacamole), french fries (a big splurge when we’re out), eggs, and the god-awful rice milk cheese that no one who has every had real dairy could abide. He’s still never had much sugar (and no real sweets save the maple syrup ice I made with fresh snow during our last blizzard), so subtle sweetness (like coconut milk yogurt) thrills him. And he loves a hot steamer: steamed unsweetened almond milk, which he drinks in a small espresso cup using both hands.
- He’s never really had screen time, though he does see photos of his beloveds on our computer, and videos too: of friends and of musicians sometimes. He has also seen about a half dozen five- to ten-minute clips of Mister Rogers Neighborhood, mostly when he’s sick. There’s one where Fred visits a brass quartet. Bram has seen the clip twice. It rocks his world.
- He is a bull in a china shop. I was at a friend’s house recently, and her toddler’s grace put Bram’s messy, imprecise physicality into stark relief. He is of his body in a way that is full of joy, but definitely lacking caution or care. Living with him is a little like living with one of his beloved trains: loud, messy, bigger than he seems in rare moments of stillness. Though he adores running around after tennis balls at our gym (so I know it is the right gift), I’m a little terrified to give him his tennis racquet. Especially when I think about poor Iris.
- At the moment (I know better to talk more broadly than this) Bram is sleeping pretty well. Bedtime is sweet sweet sweet, and he’s usually out between 8 and 9. We try for earlier, but it’s hard to get through the evenings that fast, and it’s nice for J to have time with him. He usually (but not always) wakes up once in the night, but he’s willing to be comforted back down in his own bed. He comes to us between 4 and 6 each morning and nurses, sometimes falling back asleep, and sometimes not. Some nights are much, much, much worse than this, but many go about this way, which suits all of us just fine.
- He is big with the Dragon-love. If you ask, he’ll tell you what Dragon’s name is probably going to be. He invented a game wherein he takes wooden food from his kitchen and brings it to J’s belly to feed Dragon. When she tried to do it too, he told her: No, pomo. Only Bram. He also holds up pictures to show the baby. Holds them tight against J’s body. And last week, he told me (out of the blue and with great reverence): Mama, Bram have brother.
- Also, he is the sweetest combination of handsome and absolutely, profoundly GOOFY. You’ll see what I mean in the photos below.