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More talking, more temper
(August 13, 2008)

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A few nights ago I had another of those funny moments where I looked at Theron and thought, "I'm married to the Beautiful Woman and we have a little boy. How is that even possible?" I note this because it doesn't happen very often; I've pretty much gotten used to being the luckiest guy in the entire history of the whole world. That odd sense of unreality, of Am I dreaming this?, only comes out when I'm especially tired. (And, to be fair, when I'm really tired reality always gets a little frayed around the edges. The Podling just offers a convenient focus for it.)

(Come to think of it, being married seems a little unlikely at times, too. The Beautiful Woman and I knew each other back in college, and if you'd told us then that we'd end up married -- let alone raising a small child -- we'd have laughed you out of the room. It's hard to believe that there's that much irony galloping around loose in the world.)

Theron is now firmly in the "Terrible Twos", but so far they haven't been all that terrible. Yes, he's very excitable; and yes, if he get frustrated, he's likely to jump straight into a full-blown tantrum. Fortunately, he can communicate pretty well. His vocabulary is increasing, along with his ability to enunciate, and if all else fails he can fall back on his baby signs. He's got a pretty good life, and he doesn't get frustrated all that often. We've also made a point of telling him that we can't understand what he says when he starts screaming. So far, it seems to be working.

Of course, now that I've said that, the screaming will begin.

He is also using "Yes" with much more regularity. A few weeks ago, "Yes" meant "Absolutely, definitely, that is the very thing I want." Now it just means, "Yes." He's still having trouble with the "Y" sound, though, so he compensates by adding another syllable: "ee-Yes." Or, when he's feeling very definite about something, "eeeee-Yes!"

Turtle Worship
On Sundays, the Podling goes to visit my parents. This has broadened his horizons considerably, and he loves it. One of this summer's new activities is Feeding The Turtle.

Turtle has a long history with our family. He's one of two turtles who came to our back yard in my youth, so he's been there something like twenty years now. (Turtles in general can live quite a long time; a North American box turtle has a potential lifespan of a century or more. This concludes the educational portion of our show.) He isn't a pet, precisely -- my parents have made no effort to domesticate him, and he lives in the back yard year-round -- but he's been there so long that he recognizes the sound of our voices and often comes to see if we have any interesting offerings for him.

"Interesting," in Turtle terms, generally means "edible." This includes dead bugs from the pool's catch-basket, worms and grubs from gardening, and (on one memorable occasion) a quart bag of june bugs, which Turtle treated like popcorn.

Theron found Turtle fascinating. He's a cautious boy, though, so what he'd do is grab one of our hands, and use that to touch the turtle. Recently (and after repeated exposure to Turtle), he's become willing to actually touch Turtle. And, at my father's prompting, he has now learned how to take a worm, brush the dirt off it, and feed it to the turtle himself.

Turtle is not likely to starve to death any time soon.

Tall Things
As his coordination and balance improve, Theron shows a distinct liking for heights. He watches TV while sitting on the back of the couch; he climbs ladders* on the playground. He likes being up high.

...And then he jumps. He jumps off the couch. He jumps off chairs. He jumps off platforms at the playground. Last week, I watched him jump off a platform that was taller than he is -- a full three feet at least. (He was landing on soft playground wood-chips, though.) He seems to have a good eye for what is and isn't a safe jump, at least; I've watched him look at a jump, think about it, and decide not to do it. Usually that means that he just tries another, similar jump that he can manage, but what the hey.

A surprising amount of the time, he jumps onto Daddy. I'm going to have to put a stop to this before he gets large enough to damage my spine. Stretching out on the floor in front of the couch is a dangerous occupation, these days.

Before he goes to bed, he climbs up on the little step-stool in his room and jumps onto the gymnastics mat a few times. This habit is particularly interesting to me, because it's a two-stage process. He climbs up the steps while holding something (usually a piece of paper or a washcloth). Once he's standing at the top, he throws the item up in the air and watches it fall (or drift) to the floor. Then he jumps onto the crash pad. He'll repeat this process for as long as we let him. Seriously, take a look:

These activities have also led to an increased awareness of heights. I habitually put Theron up on my shoulders, usually when I want to make sure that he can't easily get away from me (crossing a parking lot, for instance). This has never bothered him. Recently, though, for about a week, he suddenly became very nervous about it. "Nervous", in this case, means "panicked into sinking his fingers into the soft parts of Daddy's face in order to make sure he has a solid grip". There was no obvious reason for the dramatic shift in attitude -- it took me completely by surprise. I think he just suddenly realized that he was up high.

Fortunately, he seems to be settling back down again. He's wary about riding on my shoulders, but not eye-gougingly panicky. And my face is still mostly intact.


My New Mug
So, the Beautiful Woman took our son to one of those glaze-it-yourself activity centers. The idea, basically, is that the store will provide you with a selection of ceramic items and a variety of colored glazes. You pick an item, paint it with the glazes, and the store fires it. When you pick it up a few days later, it's a properly glazed piece of ceramic.

Now, I have a weakness for large ceramic mugs. An ordinary tea cup is only good for about four swallows; I need a cup that will last through the morning and into the afternoon. A proper mug should not only double as a soup bowl; you should actually be able to do laundry in it, or row it home during a flood. Mugs of this size are, as you might suspect, somewhat hard to find.

Well, the Beautiful Woman found one, and Theron glazed it, and the store fired it. So now I have a brand new mug, which has become my permanent at-work mug. In addition to being the perfect size, it's highly distinctive; nobody is ever going to mistake it for their own coffee cup. It's a wonder of Expressionist artwork.

Don't believe me? Okay, take a look:

Sleeping in the Big Boy Bed (with Tent!)
Theron loves the Big Boy Bed. He loves it so much that we usually have a very easy time getting him down to sleep in it. If doesn't lay down when it's time to sleep, then we threaten to put him back in his crib. Usually the threat is sufficient by itself, which is good because any time we actually do put him in the crib he goes into a complete meltdown. (The end result is the same, but it's very hard on the ears.)

A while back, Theron's aunt and uncle (my wife's sister and her husband) sent Theron a bed-tent. This is, basically, a small tent that's sized to fit over a double bed. When we seriously started trying to make the transition from crib to bed, I broke out the tent and set it up. Theron loves it; he thinks it's just about the coolest thing ever. It firmly cemented his desire to sleep in the Big Boy Bed.

We like it, too; but then, that can be said of just about anything that encourages the boy to sleep through the night.

Other Uses for Beds
Theron is also quite fond of our bed. He likes to climb on it. He likes to jump on it. He likes to jump off it. He likes to get buried under the covers and then erupt back into view. He likes to lie down, put his head on the pillow, and pull the covers up ("just like the adults do").

He also likes to:

  • spill popcorn on our bed
  • rub orange slices or pieces of cheese on our bed
  • hide leftover pieces of waffle under the covers

Being a parent is all about happiness, love, joy, sweetness, and being unexpectedly grossed out. Changing the sheets figures prominently into the experience, too.

And now, more pictures and video.



Stretched out on the mat

As usual, click
for larger images
or video

The Bed Tent

  Theron loves his tent

Everything below is a link to a video. Most of them make noise, so if you're at work, be warned!

Counting in the bathtub

Climbing onto a platform Climbing a ladder

"More Elmo Weather?"

"Daddy, more slide?" Under the Covers

* Full-on vertical ladders, not that weird set of yellow steps from the video in the last entry.