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Two and One-Third Years Old
(October 15, 2008)

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It'll be mid-October by the time we get this entry up; it's been a busy month. Since the last entry:

  1. My younger brother got married,
  2. I've had major dental work*,
  3. I've been sick twice, and
  4. Theron has continued teething, and has probably been sick as well.

I mention this mostly as background; we'll explore it in more detail as we go along.

So, mid-October: that puts Theron at two and one-third years old: two years and four months. He's grown again; he's now the same size as the rest of the children in the Moms' Group** (most of whom are about six months older than he is). The top of his head is about level with my belly button. Which, given that he's only been on the planet for a bit over two years, is frankly unbelievable. ("They grow up so fast! ")

This is actually something of a relief. It means that all those times when I looked over at him and thought, "Ye gods, he's grown visibly since {he went to bed last night/I left for work this morning}" ...I wasn't actually hallucinating.

He's talking even more. In the last entry, I offered a list of examples - specific ways that he was using his words. Since then, he's also taken to... "burbling", I guess would be the word for it. He's starting to talk constantly, regardless of whether he needs or wants anything in particular. It's just... practice. Some of these are very long monologues; we think -- but we're not sure -- that he's reciting episodes of Elmo or other TV shows.

Bringing a Two-Year-Old to a Wedding
My brother and his wife, very sensibly, decided to do their wedding in two parts. The first would be the actual wedding, which would take place on the anniversary of the day they started dating; this happened to be a Wednesday. The second was the reception, a much larger event which would take place on the following Saturday.

We attended both events, of course. The wedding took place in the Japanese Gardens, a section of the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens. It was beautiful, scenic, and -- on a Wednesday afternoon -- relatively quiet. They had chosen a sort of gazebo overlooking one of the koi ponds for their location.

The schedule had been worked out carefully. My wife and I dropped our son off at his Mother's Day Out program -- daycare, basically -- and then the Beautiful Woman went off to drive the Bride-To-Be to the event. I played video games until my brother (the soon-to-be-Groom) picked me up; then we swung over to the daycare, and very nearly failed to retrieve my son.

This was because when I'd dropped the child off that morning, I was in shorts and a T-shirt, with a scraggly full beard. When I returned to pick him up, I was in a suit and tie and had shaved off most of the beard, leaving a neatly-trimmed goatee in its wake. So, naturally, nobody recognized me except Theron -- and even he looked a little uncertain until I spoke.

He burbled happily for the entire trip to the gardens, while my brother and I talked.*** Once we were there, the Groom-To-Be headed off to make sure everyone knew where to go. I occupied the gazebo, got Theron into his wedding suit, and bought some food to feed the fish. Theron thought this was great, and I don't blame him; some of those fish were as big as he is. He also had a good time running around on the paths, and generally dodging my attempts to change his clothes. Finally, though, I had him ready -- by which point just about everyone was there.

The ceremony, as I've already said, was lovely. The priest was an older man, fairly distinguished, and seemed mainly worried that one of the wedding rings might get dropped into the water. The bride and groom looked spectacular, and spectacularly happy, and everything went off without a hitch. Theron's contribution was to run up and down one side of the gazebo, burbling happily to himself and occasionally peering over the edge to look at the fish. He wasn't quiet, but his noises were happy noises, and nobody seemed to mind.

Afterwards, we took a quick round of pictures; and I, of course, couldn't resist the chance to press my luck a bit:

Food good
Dinner followed immediately, at a restaurant called Piranha Killer Sushi, and it was amazing. I'm not much of a sushi fan, generally, but this was really good.

Theron thought so, too. He ate everything. Seriously, I think he ate about half the table. He had two bowls of the little appetizer-noodles, a bowl of miso soup (much of which ended up on his shirt), about half of his mother's teriyaki chicken, a significant fraction of my father's breaded chicken, bits of my Korean-style beef, and I think some ice cream as well. There might have been some Sushi in there, too. We just kept setting things in front of him, and he kept eating them.

After that, I went back to work and life went back to normal... for about two days.

...And then there was the reception
On Friday, a significant fraction of the extended family descended on my parents' house. This was fun, but busy; and, after a full day at work, a bit tiring. Theron had a good time running around, and occupied himself with the sandbox, various puzzles, and his cousin Duncan. We begged off a bit early -- Bed Time waits for no man -- and went home.

On Saturday we dressed everybody up again, and went down to one of our favorite little Italian restaurants for the reception. There were, at a guess, about one hundred people present, kith and kin both. Like the wedding, the reception went off splendidly.

Several little things made parenting easier. Someone had cleverly engaged a nanny, to keep the children occupied while their parents socialized; she was extremely good with children, and had brought along a great walloping bundle of supplies with which to distract them. The restaurant, in an amazing display of good sense and professionalism, brought the kids' plates out first.**** In addition, all of the Podling's favorite people were there, and several were making an active effort to keep him entertained. Unfortunately, none of that was sufficient; he went into a full-on meltdown, and spent most of his time in the back room.

This was probably brought on by a combination of things. He's still teething; he has a couple of molars coming in. Between that and the general busy-ness of the week, his sleep schedule was a bit off. And, frankly, it was a very large crowd; he may just have been overwhelmed. Finally, of course, there's the simple fact that he's a two-year-old, and if there's one thing two-year-olds are famous for, it's temper tantrums.

Acting His Age
Theron is a pretty sweet kid, in his own little distant and preoccupied way. His take on the Terrible Twos has been pretty mild, so far. It's not that he hasn't thrown tantrums -- he has, and some of them have been pretty impressive -- but they've generally been fairly mild, and fairly infrequent.

Recently, though -- and possibly owing to the factors I outlined above -- they've become more frequent, louder, and more determined. That is, if he gets started on one, it's much harder to distract him or jolly him out of it than it used to be. Needless to say, I am not encouraged by this.

Also... and I'm a bit loathe to admit this... they're kind of cute. As he gets more determined about being angry, he also gets more theatrical about expressing his displeasure. So, for example, a couple of weeks ago he was annoyed about something; to show how he felt, he took a pair of clean socks out of my hand, so he'd have something to throw angrily to the floor. Another time he led me into his room, so I could watch while he threw himself onto the air filter and howled in angry misery. Like I said, theatrical; dramatic.

I don't know where he gets it, really.

A warning to the well-intentioned
Last week, as part of our Thursday Night Dinner With The Parents, my wife came by work to pick me up. She's very good about this -- she comes in just a few minutes before five. It's early enough that my co-workers (You Know Who You Are) get a chance to see the Podling, but not so early that she's interrupting any real work.

Anyway, as we were standing around in the hallway, one of them engaged Theron in a game. This game involved turning off the light switch, whereupon she would pretend to go to sleep; then, when he turned it back on, she'd pretend to startle into wakefulness. Theron loved it... which was precisely the problem.

He didn't want to stop. He would have kept us -- all of us -- there for hours, playing this game. We moved him further down the hall, and he ran back to the light switch, then turned and demanded to be picked up. He grumped about it when we left; it wasn't until we reached the parking lot that he decided there might be other objects of interest in the world.

So, a quick word of warning about dealing with small children: never start any game that you wouldn't be willing to play with them for, approximately, all eternity.

Slouching Towards Bethlehem
Hallowe'en is almost upon us. Theron and I already have our costumes picked out; he's going as Elmo, while I'm going as Connor McLeod. I don't know what the Beautiful Woman plans to wear, but she usually manages to surprise me. After that we'll have Thanksgiving, which will involve a trip to a dude ranch with my wife's side of the family; and eventually Christmas, when we'll find out whether Theron still views Santa as an object of blood-chilling horror. I have my costumes picked out for those holidays, as well.

And now, more pictures
They should bring my word count up considerably.

Ice Cream at the Plano Balloon Festival

With his Nana, at the reception
...right before the meltdown

After a messy and tiring afternoon
in the back yard

 

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

Playing with a toy train

Playing the Hammered Dulcimer In the Bounce House
at a local carnival

* ...Because a big chunk of one of my teeth just randomly broke off while I was in Chicago for a conference. Plus, it was a big enough piece that the whole tooth -- and the one beside it -- needed to be capped. So, not only did I have to wait until I could get back to Dallas to have it fixed, it had to be fixed in two stages: one where the dentist sets up the foundation and orders the caps; then, a few weeks later, another visit where we take the temporaries off, make sure the caps fit, and glue them in place. The dentist was very good, but yeesh. Getting old suc... is no fun at all.

** I haven't written much about the Moms' Group. This is mainly because I'm not, y'know, a Mom. The Beautiful Woman has a lot more contact with them than I do. That said...

It's basically began as a group of moms who all had their first children around the same time, in the same hospital. They managed to keep in touch afterwards, and now they have weekly outings (with the kids) and monthly dinners (where the kids stay home with the dads).

We were not originally part of the group, and only found them by accident. I met a couple of the moms at a storytime program at our local library, and they later invited my wife and son to attend some events and eventually join the group. (Actually, that makes it sound like there's some sort of formal membership process, which really isn't the case. They're very friendly, and what organization they have is built around making sure that someone is planning the weekly activities.)

This has been an incredible boon to Theron, since it gives him a peer group of bright, active children. It's also been a huge help to my wife, by way of offering her a chance to get out of the house and speak to other adults. There were times in our child-raising when that was absolutely critical to her continued sanity.

*** About video games, mostly. C'mon, we're guys. Why would we be discussing the wedding?

**** This is the sort of simple, obvious, and extremely helpful strategy that is easy to dismiss as common sense -- until you realize just how many places don't operate this way.