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 "Theron is a little boy"

March 24, 2009: Theron has (I swear to g-d) both grown noticeably and started speaking more clearly... sometime last night. Samples of dialogue: "Uh-oh, Daddy. What going to happen? What going to happen? Alien Spaceship, Mommy." (This while watching Jimmy Neutron.) Also, while watching the same movie: "Oh, Carl is-is riding a buttefly." And "Oh, theys are t(h)rough the rock."*

When I came into the kitchen tonight: "I eat cake, Daddy, I eat cake." This was followed shortly by: "Daddy, wash hands."

Later, in the living room:
Theron: "Look what I found, Daddy."
Me: "Is it a tube?"
Theron: "Yes. Is a tube."

Or, when he's feeling put upon, he'll lay down on the ground and say, "Go seep. Go seep right now." (This is, basically, pouting/tantrum by threatening to go to sleep on the spot. It would be more annoying if it wasn't so cute.)

It still helps to know what he's talking about, but he's a lot more clear than he used to be - and he's expressing more complex thoughts and longer sentences.

April 7, 2009: Last night I went into Theron's bedroom to find that he had removed his pajamas and was sitting on the bed in only a diaper. (This is not the first time he has done this.) I asked him if he wanted me to help him put his pajamas back on. He said, "No, Daddy. Want shirt." So I grabbed a t-shirt out of the closet and put that on him. Five minutes later he was asleep under the covers.

April 8, 2009: And, following up on that, last night while I was waiting for him to fall asleep, I heard this: "Hello? Anybody home? We have a door here..." It's a quote from Monsters Inc. So, yeah: he's making more complex sentences, but he can also get through much longer sequences without stumbling over his pronunciation. His pronunciation is getting a lot better, too. It probably helps that we talk to him in Big-People sentences.

I should add, for the record, that I put him down to bed in just a shirt and a diaper. Given the choice between that and pajamas, that was what he wanted.

April 9, 2009 - One more note on almost-three-year-old dialogue: Theron and his mother came by work today to pick me up. (It's Thursday, and we usually go have dinner with my parents on Thursdays.) As we're going down the hall, one of my co-workers looks at Theron and says, "Well, hi. Who are you?"

Theron thinks about this for a moment. Then he replies, "Theron." And, in case more explanation is needed, he adds: "Theron is a little boy."

This Month's Entry
This isn't really a lot of material, but I think this is going to be a brief entry anyway. I'm nearing the peak of my busy season, my allergies are trying to kill me, and I just don't have a lot of time to write. I'm actually collecting samples of Theron's nearly-three-year-old dialogue for use in a future writing project; more about that some other time.

We'll probably be a bit sparse on pictures, too - the screen on the digital camera got broken - but I'll throw in what I can. (Update: No, apparently I've plenty of photos for this month.)

Being the Sole Caregiver
(April 12, 2009) The Beautiful Woman went out of town for her aunt's birthday this weekend. The timing on this was a little off, as it's Easter weekend and we'd already made plans with my parents. So, as a compromise, my wife went off to Houston for the party, while Theron and I stayed here for Easter.

This required some interesting planning, as she left early Friday afternoon while I was still at work. Theron stayed with some friends of ours, whose little boy is a year younger than ours, and I went over to pick him up after work. This was the first time we've really done anything like this, which caused my wife a little stress; but in the event, it worked beautifully. Theron didn't mind being left, he was well behaved for our friends, and nothing Went Horribly Wrong. In fact, his first real complaint occurred after we'd finished eating, when I told him it was time to leave.

(These same friends called later to warn us that their son had developed an unexpected fever, but when they took him in to the doctor the next morning, it turned out that the boy was merely teething. It was just a temporary temperature, and not contagious.)

I took Theron to the park to run around a little, then took him home and put him to bed. He accepted this with good grace, and slept until five in the morning. I took him into the living room and gave him some food, and he let me drowse on the couch while he watched Robot Dog. When the movie ended, he tried to climb up on the couch and go to sleep on top of me, so I moved us into the bedroom and he slept 'til about ten a.m.

We went out for breakfast - he ate two pieces of French toast (with whipped cream on top) and two slices of bacon - and then ran some errands. After that we went back home, where I tried to clean the house a little while he played with his trains. Somewhere in the middle of this, he comes wandering up to me and says, "Daddy. Go to book store, buy just one book."

So I figured, Why not? I took him over to Half Price Books, where he picked out a Bob The Builder Activity Book. Then I took him over to Boomerangs, which is a kind of indoor playground filled with inflatable slides, bounce houses, and suchlike. He bounced, ran, slid, climbed, and jumped with great abandon, for about two hours. When he finally wound down, I took him home for dinner. After dinner, we went out to the park and did more running, jumping, climbing, and sliding.

Despite all that, he woke up crying at about eleven o'clock. I'm not sure what caused it. He was really stuffy; that might just have been from crying, but I gave him a little medicine for it anyway. Then I gave him a couple of meat sticks, and after that he seemed to settle in. So possibly he was hungry, or he'd just had a bad dream. It's also possible that he was missing his mommy. I really don't know; I couldn't get him to tell me what was going on. He was only half-awake; I swear he was trying to sleep and cry at the same time. (I haven't seen him do that since he was six months old, and even then it didn't work very well.)

Anyway, I got him back to sleep, and he slept until about nine o'clock this morning. He was still a bit stuffy when he woke up, but otherwise he was bright and chipper. So I got him dressed and ran him down to meet his grandparents at church - an arrangement which gave me a couple of hours of blessed solitude to eat breakfast and work on the house.

I don't know how single parents do it.

I caught back up with my parents at their house for an Easter meal. They told me that Theron had tried to load his Easter eggs into another child's basket. (Apparently she needed more eggs.) Theron then demonstrated his prowess with the glue stick:

My wife returned just as we were sitting down for the meal, and all was once again right with the world.

Why I am the Luckiest Man on Earth**
A little background: Theron's bedtime routine, at present, begins with a little bit of wind-down time in the living room. This usually involves some combination of playing with toys, doing puzzles, and watching television. We have, through heroic efforts, managed to find quite a number of shows and movies that Theron will watch; we offer him choices based on how much time we have before he needs to go in the bathtub.

(After the unwinding-time, he gets a bath, then we take him into the bedroom and put him in his bedclothes. Up until recently, we used pajamas; now he just wants a shirt and a diaper. Once he's dressed, he gets a vitamin. Then we try to read him books while he jumps up and down on my head and/or tickles us. After that, we brush his teeth. Then I carry him around to turn on the "moons and stars and planets" night light, and turn off the overhead light. Then I put him in bed, and he either goes right to sleep or putters around the room for a couple of hours.)

Lately, Theron has been rejecting our movie/TV show suggestions. He wants to watch something else. He wants... Daddy's Game.

The game in question is called Morrowind. It's a fantasy adventure - a long, complex, extremely detailed adventure. There's an enormous number of things to see and do, and Theron can name most of them. ("Daddy crash in water." "Daddy make rat fall down." "Door!" "Go back in cave!" "Talk to Friendly Monster." "Is an Alligator Monster." "Look at all the Dark Elfs." "Find skeleton." "Is an octopus.")

This is why I am the luckiest man on the face of the planet: I play video games in the evening at my three-year-old son's request.

The Downside of Luck
We have a wireless controller for the X-box. It doesn't work very well, so I seldom use it myself. Lately, however, I've turned it over to Theron, so he sits there and fiddles with it while he watches the game. This may not have been as good an idea as it seemed at the time: last night he handed me the wireless controller ("Hold this please.") then picked up my controller ("Thank you."), and sat down in my lap. His first action, now that he had control of the game, was to walk my character off a cliff and into the ocean.

Fortunately, I've done a lot to improve the me-character in this game. He can breathe water, he heals quickly, and he has good armor. Basically, there's very little that Theron can do to get him killed. So the character was just treading water while a pair of slaughterfish tried to eat him. Theron, despite his inability to do anything but fumble with the controller, was thrilled to be in charge.

This will either be a tremendous bonding experience, or the end of life as I know it.

Possibly both.


Theron climbing a wall
(Photo***)

Theron reaches the top...
(Photo***)

Side View
(Photo***)
     

Riding the frog
(Photo)

Climbing on a boat
(Photo)

On board a ship
at the Dallas Arboretum
(Photo)

* At on one point in the movie, the kids build spaceships out of carnival rides. Carl's ride is a pink butterfly. Later, two of the other kids use their spaceship to drill through a meteor.

** Okay, actually, there are quite a number of reasons for this. The fact that I'm married to the most wonderful woman in the world is one; the fact that we have a bright, funny, active Podling is another.

*** All images marked with the MJR logo are copyright Michael Raiford, and are used here by permission.