Wednesday, December 18, 2013

23 Months (and 2 weeks...)

I meant to post this awhile ago, but I am too easily distracted.

Benjamin has been 23 months old for almost two weeks old. This is the last age I will count in months. On January 5th he turns 2 years old!!

Once again, the leap in his speech/ability to communicate has changed and developed so much its hard to even describe. One month ago on Nov 11th I was impressed with a several part exchange involving city buses. Now, such complex exchanges are par for the course and so common place I hardly think about them as new, even though he has only been doing it for about a month.

He has a whole imaginary world going on all the time, and he is constantly talking about it, or about the factual things going on around him. Today at daycare, some high school girls who come in to help out (and get credit for it), gave them all presents. He got a pillow pal dog. When I picked him up he heard me and the daycare worker discussing this and of course that rapidly became the topic of conversation. His monologue goes something like this. (with me interjecting things like proper grammar and suggestions of what he is trying to say when he stutters) -  "I open present. I got dog. Soft dog. Little dog pillow. (again in a cute voice) Little dog pillow. Dog got two eyes. Ben got two eyes.  both Two eyes. Two eyes. (I am meanwhile putting on his jacket etc). I wear shoes. No boots. Nice jacket. Dad got two eyes. I wear puppy gloves. Mom got two eyes. Grandpa got two eyes. Grandpa Y got two eyes. Grandma got two eyes. Grandma Y got two eyes. (By this time we are outside). That's momma's car (pointing). I ride momma's car. We go home. Ben go home, play. Me eat." .... and that's pretty much what its like when he is awake. LOL.

He also knows many songs now and likes to sing. His favorite seems to be Baa Baa black sheep. He also likes Farmer in the Dell. And of course, Wheels on the Bus. Lots and lots of things on the bus. We told him the radiator bench in our living room is a bus, and he ran with it. He puts everything on that bus, drives that bus, talks about buses.

It has taken some time for him to adjust to the idea of Christmas. I feel like Halloween was the first holiday he really fully understood and appreciated, so he thinks all good things are Halloween. He thought our Christmas tree was a Halloween tree. When we ask him what he wants from Santa, he replies Halloween, or Halloween Candy. He sometimes says just candy now, but that is after lots of practice. He does like Christmas music. His favorite is Jingle Bells I think, but he also likes Frosty the Snowmen, and Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer. At Bedtime he has taken to requesting Oh Christmas Tree and Up on the House Top as lullabies (yes, he requests lullabies).

His most requested none Christmas lullabies are "Castle on Cloud" (as he says it, from Les Mis), and "The fish song" which is a diddy I made up about his ceiling fish. Its melody changes, its words basically go - Sleep little fish, close your eyes, sleep little fish, all through the night. Sleep little fish, all night long, go to sleep little fish while I sing you thing song". 

He loves to read. He will sit and look at books on his own, or ask us to read them to him, or sometimes he will want to read "with" us - in which case he hands us a book to read, he picks up a book to read, and we each look at the books, occasionally pointing out what is in our book or asking what is in his.

Its sooo cute when he gets excited these days! He just shrieks and yells and tells us what is happening. For example, we have been letting him watch a little more video/tv. He LOVES to watch Thomas Videos, or Mickey Mouse videos, on Netflix. When he asks us if he can and we actually say yes (which is a minority of the time given the frequency of his asking), he just shrieks and runs over to his spot by the stairs and yells "me watch train video! hahaha" and laughs and giggles and shrieks.

He has opened the Christmas presents from my family, and loves them. We haven't even gotten around to setting them all up yet because there are a lot of them and they are awesome and we have been busy with other activities. But thanks to everyone!

What activities, you might ask. Last night we went to Bentleyville - the large light display here in Duluth. I love Bentleyville. It is the best of the Christmas spirit. It is free, the entire purpose is to make people happy and help those in need. And I don't mean "free, except if you want to see Santa" or "free, except your kids will want food". The food is free (cookies? hot chocolate? roast a marshmallow over an open fire?). Santa is not only free, but GIVES you a hat if you come see him. Mrs Claus is there too, also free. They collect donations for the food shelf and the toy drive, but everything is free. They want everyone to come and see it and enjoy themselves and be happy.  Benjamin loved it. He didn't want to leave. I think his favorite display was a reindeer driving a car. He also liked the mini Aerial lift bridge and its boat and elfs riding jet skis.

Lets see... I have talked a lot about what Benjamin likes to do and his speech/communication. What haven't I covered? We just moved him to size 6.5 shoes. It was quiet the ordeal. He didn't want to get new shoes, and its not until he calmed down and figured out the new ones light up that he even considered it. Once he put the new ones on, he totally forgot about the old and ran off in the new ones.

He still isn't really jumping, but he hangs on things a bit and climbs a bit more. He runs and crawls and plays ring around the rosie and pretends to be a dog or a bunny or a cat or a frog.

He is a picky eater, like most toddlers you dont know on any given day what he might be willing to eat. Sometimes he eats enough for an adult, other days he hardly touches his food. No rhyme or reason.

Bedtime has gotten easier again, and he has not had any nightmares recently or shown signs of being afraid of the dark. DH and I each do bedtime a bit differently. When I do it, I read him a couple of books, then I turn him around and look him in the eye and tell him what we are going to do. ("Benjamin, its time for bed. We are going to turn off the light, then I will rock you and sing a couple songs, then I am putting you in your crib and turning on the fish and you can watch them and go to sleep"). He likes when I do this, when I explain it, even though its the same every time.

Basically, we probably spoil him rotten. Not in the "never set boundaries" sort of way, but in the "only child and we love him to all ends and give him all our attention sort of way". I think we probably give him a lot more decision making power then most toddlers get. We will frequently use him as a tie breaker when we don't agree on something (like where to eat or what to do next).

Both of us are amazed at how its been almost two years and he is getting so big. He's the best. :)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Best Advice for New (and Not-So-New) Moms

Dear New Mom,

You are probably getting advice from all sides - maybe to much. You have seen the lists online of what you should know, you're friends are all chiming in, and of course there are the baby books. You probably don't want one more message, but I can't help myself, because I think it's an important one.

My advice for new moms:

Don't take it personally.

That's it. Simple, right? You are probably wondering what on earth I mean. I mean that your baby's (or toddler's) habits are not a reflection on your parenting. I am sure there is some age when this begins to change, but I think it is always true to some extent.

Your baby may be a poor sleeper, or have separation anxiety, or refuse to take a bottle, or be grumpy, or have a health problem. Your toddler might be a picky eater, or throw tantrums, or get ear infections, or bite his classmates, or need speech therapy, or be slow to walk.

 If they do, it's not your fault.  You did not do this to them (and no, they are not trying to punish you). There isn't a magic thing you should have done or a parenting technique you could have used. Don't beat yourself up if your kid isn't perfect. No adult is perfect, so why do we count it as personal parenting failures when a baby or toddler isn't?

Being a good parent doesn't mean having a perfect child, it means loving your child and helping them to get through whatever challenges they face (whatever challenges they drag you through). Don't add a degree of difficulty by believing those challenges are your fault.