T has entered a period of incredibly rapid development. Obviously during the first few years every stage is one of rapid development, but this current phase seems even more accelerated because his comprehension of language along with his fine and gross motor skills are growing by leaps and bounds simultaneously. My little baby, who I swear five minutes ago couldn’t even hold up his own head, is understanding and responding to us, he is taking a few steps, he is doing some talking-it is unbelievably exciting. And frustrating. For all of us. His mind is racing ahead of what his body can achieve. So the tantrums and testing have begun.
He understands that he isn’t supposed to do certain things. Of course that means he loves to do them. He particularly loves to make sure we are watching as he does them. He knows he shouldn’t touch the cord to daddy’s computer? As he approaches said cord he pauses and turns to make sure he has our full attention; only then does he grab it. He understands cause and effect, but he can’t understand why it doesn’t always work for him. His toy truck gets stuck under the sofa and he can’t wrench it out even though he understands the movement he is making is the same one I will eventually make to free it? His meltdown is so epic you’d think he had suffered a grave injury.
The flip side is I have never experienced anything as cool as when he makes one of these complex developmental leaps. If you quack at him he says duck. If his electronic toy drum stops playing music he will causally reach over and hit it so the song starts over and then return to play with whatever is in his hand. If he hears a dog barking outside he’ll look at us and say “Dog”. He wants to press the button to turn off his white noise machine after naps. He shakes his head “No” when he doesn’t want something. When you start singing Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes to him he grabs his head. He has figured out how to get past the safety lock on the bathroom cupboard. OK, that one isn’t cool, but it is rather impressive.
I could go on and on about the new things he is doing, but frankly I know it is pretty mind numbing if you aren’t his parent. The previous paragraph would have bored the shit out of me a very short time ago. If I’m honest it would bore the shit out of me now if it was about any kid but my own. Part of the reason you can’t understand the wonder of parenthood until you experience it is because it is fucking annoying unless it is happening to you.
When I was an early teen I remember listening to Ride the Lightening on my walkman at full volume. And I remember thinking how people said you grew out of that kind of music, but I swore it would never ever happen to me. Um, yes. Yes it did. Over and over again in many situations it did. Yet every time someone older and wiser told me how I would feel at a later point in my life I would dismiss them. Probably because it is was hard to accept I am predictable rather than a fascinating enigma to others, but there you have it.
During my pregnancy I was worried about what others would think of me swearing around my child to be. Z and I love to swear. It is very juvenile, and rather lazy in terms of descriptive use of language, but we pepper our conversation (or blog posts) with all the cursing standards. I was sure T’s first word would be fuck. Actually it was duck, so I was pretty close. I worried what other people would think about the fact that Z and I didn’t curb our language around our son, but I didn’t give a crap that he would be hearing the language himself.
Then a couple of weeks ago I really started to notice when Z swore in front of T. And I really started to dislike it. It was like a switch went off inside me and I suddenly couldn’t bear the idea of T thinking that swearing was normal and OK for him as a child. And I started to nag Z about it. He pointed out that I wasn’t modifying my language around T. And it was true. Somehow it was OK if I swore, but if Z did I would jump all over him. So I’ve been making a huge effort to cut it out. Z is making less of an effort, but I’m working on him.
The timing of my inevitable, but still surprising to me, change of heart makes sense. He is starting to mimic what we say. Suddenly the idea of a toddler saying fuck, which was so very humorous to me in the recent past, seems awful. The bad news is I’m learning for the hundredth time that I’ve become exactly what people have said I would. The good news is what I’ve become is a little bit less of an asshole.
He's holding a bee from his mobile and saying "Bzzzz"