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Our little chubby-cheeked Wolverine

 Theron is a few days away from being sixteen months old. (Actually, by the time I publish this, he probably will be sixteen months old.) For the unenlightened, that is one year and four months, or 1 and 1/3 years. That also means that I'm not too far from being able to give his age in years, a milestone which I eagerly await. (Math is not really my friend.)

The main development of the last few weeks is that Theron is trying to talk. He only has a few words, they aren't enunciated terribly well, and he hasn't started stringing them into sentences, but they're definitely words: he points at specific items and uses specific words for them. ("'Ight" = light, for example.) He will also repeat words back to us; "baby" is a perennial favorite. He's still using sign language (well, a dozen or so signs) to supplement his communications, though.

His first actual phrase (i.e. more than one word) was hot tea ("'od-tee"). He points at my mug (a big ceramic thing that came from a renfaire) and says it. One night I left a used tea bag where he could find it, and he spent the next morning running around with the bag in one hand and the little paper tag in the other. ("'Od-tee! 'Od-tee!") Eventually, his mother put him up on the bed with me. ("'Od-tee!") Once there, he tore the tea bag open and scattered tea leaves all over the comforter ("'Od-tee!") and giggled.

There are better ways to wake up.

Theron, can you say, "baby"?

Theron as Wolverine
(original pic)

"He's like Wolverine, but with chubby cheeks and a better haircut."
Theron's running and climbing skills have improved, though it's an incremental process. His manual dexterity has definitely improved; he can manipulate buttons, open lids, and disassemble things that were previously immune to his destructive powers. Then, once he's disassembled them, he likes to throw them in the bathtub. Or the toilet. My alarm clock is a favorite target, and I guard it carefully. (Perhaps not carefully enough, though - he managed to pull the battery out and throw that in the bathtub last week, which was a bit of a surprise; I found it by sitting on it, in the water, while I was getting ready to bathe him.)

My wife, in one of her Eeyore moments, comments: "There's nothing I can have. Nothing I can keep. Everything I value must be destroyed." This was mainly prompted by the breaking of a cute little reading light, but she does have a point. Sooner or later, Theron will attempt to touch (then grab, then manipulate) anything he can reach. Since he has no idea what to do with the things he grabs, a surprisingly high percentage of those items end up broken. Cute as he is, his one real skill is destruction.

This prompted his father (me) to compare him to the X-Men character Wolverine. Short and stocky? Check. Rapid healing? Check. Indestructible bones? Close enough. Half-feral, and prone to berserker rages? Ohhh, yes. So, Theron: very much like Wolverine, but with chubby cheeks and a better haircut.

Theron practices his table manners.
The illusion of control
In a pathetic bid to keep up with him, we have acquired and installed a new baby gate. This one is taller than the wooden gate we were using -- the one he knocked down -- and much more solid. It's really a gate, too - you can lift the latch (actually squeeze a sort of handle near the top) and swing it open, allowing the adults to walk through. When it's latched, it's a very effective barrier.

Theron's response was to claim the gate for his very own. He swings it open and shut, and throws a major fit if we actually latch it. He moves stuffed animals and then closes them behind the gate. He sticks things through the bars. Sometimes, if I ask him nicely, he'll swing it open for me and let me in. Other times, he sees me coming and closes the gate before I can get there. It is, he seems to feel, his gate. We, his parents, should never question his right to do with it as he pleases.

This is problematic, since the whole point of having the gate where it is (between the living room and the kitchen) was to confine his destruction to a smaller area of the house... at least some of the time. On the plus side, if he's occupied with the gate then he isn't off breaking anything else -- and the gate seems to be solid enough to take the abuse. So it works, sort of, after a fashion, maybe.

Toys are overrated, part II
My parents have created a playhouse for Theron. It has two doors (front and back), two rooms, two windows, and a sort of skylight which allows the Podling to look out from under the edge of the roof. I have no idea what the retail price of something like this would be, but I imagine it would be quite expensive. Come to think of it, a store-bought playhouse would probably be made of molded plastic, and weigh half a ton.

This one, on the other hand, was made from a large cardboard box, and cost essentially nothing. (The box came from a water heater.) It weighs very little, and when the Podling isn't using it, it can be moved up onto the glider to get it out of the way. If Theron breaks it, it can be repaired with white glue and a bit of extra cardboard. When he (inevitably) outgrows it, we can get rid of it quickly and easily and totally without guilt: it's recyclable.

Plus, it's really cute.

(Click for larger images)