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The Unexpected Dangers of Being A Parent

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Theron 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 "Doggy."

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." ("Door.")

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 movement.

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.

Nickname News
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 fall.

Parenting is a lot more dangerous than it seems
My son is a menace. Sweet, lovable, and friendly, but a menace.

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, um, production.

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 determined.

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 perpetually half-sick.

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 sooner.

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 home...
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 intended.

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