Now We Are Three
(June 26, 2009)
has just had his third birthday. Actually, that was a couple of weeks ago. I'm
What surprises me most about this age is that he's still developing in sudden
bursts. I'll look up, and he'll have started a new behavior, or he'll suddenly
understand something that used to be invisible to him. His growth is following
the same pattern: a few weeks of no visible change, and then he wakes up one
morning and he's taller.
He has also, for the last two weeks, had a particularly nasty head cold
(triply nasty, because his mother and I have been sharing it with him). He's
getting better - finally - and can actually breathe through his nose again, but
he's still... not 'tired', exactly. He's got most of his energy back. It's just
that when he runs out of energy, he's out. He goes from Happy
Running Bouncing Boy straight to Inconsolable Meltdown Boy with only a moment's
This is a difficulty for us.
Added to that, for the past two nights he's woken up at about three in the
morning. I have no idea if this is because he's stuffy, or hungry, or lonely.
I'm not generally at my best when awakened unexpectedly, and right now I'm still
trying to finish recovering myself: I need more sleep, not less. My wife is in
much the same boat, except that - generally speaking - she has more trouble
going back to sleep than I do. But he's awake, and we have to deal with it.
There's a surprising amount of crossover between trying to resolve these
sorts of things, and troubleshooting computers. You use a lot of the same
techniques; a lot of the same rules apply. For example, probably the most
important question in troubleshooting is this: "What was the last thing you
changed?" But sometimes, with either computers or small boys, there isn't an
obvious answer. And sometimes, like now, you just end up trying things and
noting the results... Until either you see a pattern, or something happens to
About three weeks ago, Theron's language abilities made another big leap.
Until now, his sentences have been pretty basic. (I have some samples in one of
the earlier chapters.) He'd ask questions, and he'd use possessives, but the
structure was still pretty simple: subject-verb-object, mostly. Nouns only
received one adjective: "Is a red truck." Verbs were always in the
present tense. Oh, and everything was in the third person: "Daddy's controller."
"Theron's controller." "Daddy falls down." "Kitty Cat is
Theron talking about colors
About three weeks ago, he started using first person and second person
pronouns. He will now, for example, identify "my controller" and "your
controller" instead of "Theron's controller" and "Daddy's Controller". (He has
also recently protested that a particular box was his, when in
fact it was his mother's and she was trying to put it away. I think that has
more to do with testing boundaries than learning grammar, though.)
Multiple adjectives have also made an appearance: "Is a tiny, red truck." "Is
a big yellow digger." His sentences are getting more complex: "I think I can do
that." "Daddy wants to sleep in Theron's bed.*"
And, finally, he's using more plurals: "Those are friendly Dark Elfs."
(Daddy's response: "Yes, they are friendly. That means we can't bonk them."
Theron: "Is a Wingy Monster. We bonk Wingy Monster? No! Black Monster wants to
bonk the Wingy Monster**.")
Oh, and he can spell his name. I'm pretty sure we can attribute that to his
Mother's Day Out program. It wouldn't even have occurred to me to start him on
Beating us at our Own Game
I mentioned in a previous entry that it's sometimes difficult to tell whether
Theron knows particular words and/or how to use them correctly. Generally, we
just ask him questions (or ask him to do things) and if he answers (or does
them) correctly, then obviously he understands. Another trick we've used is to
offer an obviously wrong answer, and see if he corrects us. "Theron, is that a
blue firetruck?" If he corrects us ("Nooooo. Is a red
firetruck.") then he already understood. If he doesn't, then we correct
ourselves and/or explain the difference to him.
Recently, though - I'd say within the last week - Theron has turned our
cunning plan against us. A sample of dialogue:
Daddy (pointing to a picture of a boat): "Theron, what is that?"
Theron (studying the book judiciously): "Is a bulldozer."
Daddy: "What?" (points again) "You think that is a bulldozer?
That's a sailboat."
Theron: (A brief pause, then) "Is not a sailboat. Is an
Names for this age
We have passed the Terrible Twos (at least in theory - it's not like they start
at two and end on the third birthday; also, for boys the threes can apparently
bring more arguing, tantrums, and misbehavior than the twos ever did). Being an
English major, I am now looking for an appropriate title for this next stage of
So far, I'm inclined to use "The Age of Bargaining." Theron's reasoning and
language abilities have reached a point where we can talk to him, explain
things, and even postpone things. (Me: "No, that was the last book. We can read
more books in the morning." Theron: "Otay.") However, this is also the age of
Tricycling, and the Age of the Swim Ring.
Both the tricycle and the swim ring were actually introduced last year.
Neither was terribly well received at the time. Theron's legs weren't quite long
enough to really make the tricycle go, though he was certainly game to try. He
hated the swim ring, and wanted our arms instead, which kind of limited his
activities in the pool.
That was last year. This year, he's grown into both of them. He can zoom the
tricycle around with skill and aplomb (and the occasional crash), and has
actually developed races and chasing games with his grandfather (who uses an
electric wheelchair for these activities). The swim ring finally fits him, and
he'll float around in it when we're in the pool. This is a great relief to his
father, who likes to have his arms free. He's even learning to move himself
around by kicking his legs; I'm looking forward to watching his progress over
In the Swim Ring
Just a few days ago, Theron started speaking for some his toys. He doesn't do it
for all of them, just E.R. The Doggy (a gift from one of our trips to the
emergency room), and a small stuffed
Cthulhu whom the Podling
refers to as "Octopus
Monster." As it happens, E. R. The Doggy and Octopus Monster are great
friends, and spend most of their time together. Sometimes they even read books
to each other.
Interestingly, he usually speaks for one of them himself, and hands the other
over to either me or my wife. (I get E. R. The Doggy, while the Beautiful
Woman*** gets Octopus Monster.) His scenarios aren't terribly sophisticated; as
an example, Octopus Monster likes to tell E. R. The Doggy about how he can fly,
because he has wings, so I have E. R. The Doggy tell Octopus Monster about how
he can run very fast because he has four legs and paws. But, it's good to see
the imagination at play. I suspect we'll get to see a lot more of this kind of
storytelling-play as time goes on.
Understanding the World - and Making Jokes About It
Theron has also come to understand the concept of stoplights. He knows that red
means stop, and green means go, and yellow means careful. For a week or so, we
couldn't drive anywhere without hearing him editorialize from the back seat: "Is
a red light. Red light means stop."
A week ago, while riding in his Nana's car, the Beautiful Woman asked Theron
if he had a poopy diaper. Theron said, "No." Then he said, "Red poopy means
stop," and he grinned. My wife asked, "Really? What does green
And Theron sagely replied: "Green poopy means stop."
...Which, if you think about it, it probably does. I'm going to end this month's
entry with Theron's poopy joke, and go on to the usual assortment of pictures
Napping Bear helps him sleep
at his grandparents' house
He finished his nap in time
for his birthday party
Blowing out the candles
Theron and his buddy play in
the alligator pool
(Best $20 I ever spent!)
Floating in the pool...
Walking in Daddy's Shoes
Bouncy slide at the music
Our boy's first tattoo
also at the music festival
On a ride at Six Flags
(no idea who the girl is)
Playing with the front-loader
in the sandbox
A sandbox and a bubble
machine - does life get any
better than this?
* Daddy does not want to sleep in Theron's bed. Daddy wants
Theron to sleep in his own bed, alone, for the entire [expletive deleted] night.
However, Theron wants Daddy to sleep in his bed, and hasn't quite figured out
how to phrase that as a question or a command, yet. So he makes it a statement
and hopes for the best.
** Loosely translated, this means that in Daddy's Game (Morrowind), the boy has
spotted the kind of monster known as a
Twilight. He now wants daddy to conjure another kind of monster, called a
Black Monster, in Theronese) so that the Dremora can bonk the Winged Twilight.
That's not to say that my character has no role in the battle; I pretty much
stand there and let the Winged Twilight attack me while the Dremora pounds it
into the ground. Fortunately, my character heals almost as fast as he's
*** My wife and the boy's mother, who prefers not to use her real name online.
Or at least she didn't, until she succumbed to the lure of Facebook...