The Unexpected Dangers of Being A Parent
is now... Let's see, he'll be twenty-one months old on
March 7. He's thirty-two inches tall, and weighs enough
to put a serious strain on my spine.
The last six weeks have seen some radical new
developments. Theron is now using words, regularly, and
practicing new words. He still doesn't have a really
consistent vocabulary, but he can say things that are
perfectly comprehensible to any passing stranger.
"Apple" is a perennial favorite, and one of the more
distinctive. "More" is still basically "Mo", and he
sometimes crosses the pronunciations of "Daddy" and
In the last two weeks, he's started trying to combine
words, too. "Da-da 'od tea," while pointing at my giant
tea mug, for example. He's also experimenting with some
conceptual things that adults take for granted; this
morning, he hauled his chair over to the wall, climbed
carefully up on top of it, and knocked on the wall a
couple of times. (To make sure it really was solid all
the way up, I guess?) Then he looked at us and said, "Doh."
Plus, he hops.
On level ground, he will gather both feet and hop. It's
a slow, awkward way to move, but he loves it. He
particularly loves it when someone will hop with him.
I'm not sure where this falls on the developmental
scale, but I'm pretty sure he isn't supposed to be doing
it yet. It's a surprisingly coordinated full-body
Even more impressive, at least to me, is his willingness
to jump off of things. While he gets a lot of things
from his mother's side of the family -- his charming
smile, for example -- I'm pretty sure that this one
comes from his father's side.
He has, four months before his second birthday,
demonstrated an absolute willingness to climb onto the
hearth at his grandparents' house and jump off -- over,
and over, and over again. Right now, I'd say that four
times out of five he lands just fine: that is, he's
either still, or he's moving forward without stumbling.
About one time in five, he stumbles when he lands. It
doesn't seem to bother him, and the carpet is actually
pretty good padding, so I don't worry about it.
More recently, he has started jumping off things at the
playground. Apparently, he jumped off the top of the the
grapefruit in the play area at the mall. (The play area
is completely padded, and done in a sort of breakfast
motif; there are pictures of it earlier in the journal.)
Now, this is certainly not hard ground; on the other
hand, that grapefruit is at least two feet high, maybe
closer to three.
Theron mostly gets called by his actual name, but we
have plenty of other names for him. My wife commonly
refers to him as "pumpkin" (possibly because of a
Halloween costume). "Boobelly" remains in common use by
both of us. "Juggernaut" comes up occasionally, usually
when he's earned it. I, however, have recently found
myself referring to him as "Snorkleberry."
"What," you may ask, "is a
snorkleberry?" I'm happy to explain, really.
Snorkleberries (unsurprisingly) grow on Snorkletrees,
which grow mostly in northern Africa and are best known
for their twisty, hollow branches. Early Mediterranean
people (late Minoan era) cut branches from the
snorkletrees to produce the first snorkels.
Snorkleberries are large and pink, and ripen in the late
Parenting is a lot more dangerous than it seems
My son is a menace. Sweet, lovable, and friendly, but a
A week or two back, we were getting him ready for bed.
He is doing his best to prolong the process: taking
extra time to pick a book, pausing between stages to
distract us with cuteness, etc. One of the things he
does is pick up a small stuffed bear with his teeth,
then shake it back and forth. (I suspect he learned this
from his grandmother's dogs.) It was, of course,
extremely cute in a "Look, honey, he's breaking its
little spine" sort of way.
Then, not two minutes later, he flops down on top of me
and tries the same thing on my leg. CHOMP! Caught me
just at the top of my calf, right below the knee. I
said, "Yeargh!" or something similar. One of my first
reflexes, in a situation like that, is to strike
whatever it is that's hurting me. It turns out that I
also have another reflex that prevents me from hitting
toddlers. For a long, painful moment, I could actually
feel them dueling for control of my arm. (Fortunately,
"Do Not Strike The Baby" won out.)
Also fortunately, he let go pretty quickly - probably as
soon as my strangled gasp alerted him to the fact that I
wasn't enjoying the experience. He is, basically, a good
kid, even if he is a menace. And it was obviously play;
he wasn't trying to hurt me. Succeeding, yes -
brilliantly. But not trying.
So, to recap:
Biting stuffed toy and shaking it around = cute.
Biting daddy = not cute.
Weaning is hard to do
Our approach to weaning Theron may have been a little
misguided. I might even go so far as to admit that we
made a few mistakes.
The recommended method for weaning is to gradually
decrease the number of feedings. This gives the child a
chance to adjust to less milk intake and more solid
food. It also give the mother a chance to adjust her,
Theron, unfortunately, is not really on a regular
feeding schedule. That's the first problem. The second
is that he's big enough to ask for what he wants; and,
worse, he's big enough to go after it. And
he's really, really determined. Really, really
So, when a good opportunity for weaning came along, we
decided it was time to take advantage of it.
And then there were two
I work full time, and bring in most of the money for our
household. My wife works part time, and brings in some
much-needed extra. However, because my job is more
crucial to our ongoing financial stability, the
Beautiful Woman usually takes care of the Podling when
wakes up in the night. However, following our most
recent bout of illness (in January; see the
last journal entry), that
arrangement quit working so well. It was now effectively
preventing my wife from fully recovering, keeping her
So, two weeks ago, I kicked her out of the house. As
I've mentioned before, her parents live within a few
blocks of us. The Beautiful Woman stayed with them,
while I stayed home and took care of Theron. My wife,
being the practical woman she is, decided that this was
the best opportunity for weaning that we were ever going
to have, and told Theron that he was cut off. ("Sorry,
little guy. Doctor said they don't work anymore.")
Theron was a little whiney about this, but he adapted
pretty well. I kept to his regular night-time routine,
and he went to sleep easily. He woke up during the
night, but I gave him water and threw a blanket over his
legs, and he went back to sleep. The second night was
like the first, but he went back to sleep a little
The Beautiful Woman, meanwhile, had two full nights of
glorious, unbroken sleep. It would be difficult to
overstate just how much good this did for her.
Theron has now gone two full weeks without the bosoms.
I'm counting this as a win, even though, well...
Okay, it's the same thing that happens every time we
seem to be making progress: we got really, really sick.
Just when you thought it was safe to come back
Two days after my wife returned home -- four days into
weaning -- Theron came down with a really, really nasty
stomach virus. He promptly passed it on to both me and
my father-in-law. (My mother-in-law concluded, on that
basis, that it was clearly a "boy disease.")
Since we might conceivably have some emetophobes reading
this, I'll spare you all the grisly (very, very
grisly) details. Suffice to say that I was out of work
for three and half days, Theron had to make two trips to
the doctor, and our beautifully orchestrated attempt to
let the Beautiful Woman return to sleeping in our bed is
now a smoldering ruin of shattered plans, charred hopes,
and foul-smelling stains.
It even interrupted the writing of this journal entry;
it will be posted a full week later than I'd originally
Nasty, nasty virus.
Yes, he takes after me... but only when he's good.
Theron's a climber. I know, I know, I already posted the
video clip of him pulling the chair over to the sink.
This is better. Follow the link, and remember: when this
was taken, he was twenty months old. That's 1.6~ years,
or four months before his second birthday.
If you watch real closely, you can see the exact moment
where I lost my nerve.
So, that's pretty much it. Placing things up high won't
keep him out of them. The only way to keep things safe
is to lock them away in some fashion. And even that may
not work for long.
More images of Theron doing things
As usual, click for larger images and/or video.:
Theron loves slides
Theron sliding (video)
Theron, feeling puny.
I think he was watching Sesame Street.
Theron playing on the bed
Theron carries cat food.
It's an eight pound sack, or
about 1/4 of his body weight.
Theron runs in circles
around the kitchen