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In Which Theron Becomes A Wingy Monster

So, once again, I'm a bit late with the month's entry. (Well, okay, they're not actually monthly so much as whenever-I-really-feel-like-it-y, but I seem to average around one a month.) I like to think that this is simply one of the hazards of ongoing projects; because otherwise it might reflect badly on my ability to meet deadlines.

...Wait a minute. I have a three year old. That means I can't meet deadlines.

Okay, now that we've cleared that up... It's nearing the end of July. Theron's birthday was back in the first week of June, so we're about two months past his third birthday.

He's gotten taller again - overnight, I think, about a week ago. His sentences are growing gradually more complex, though he still hasn't figured out how to link two thoughts: he still uses "Daddy wants to sit on the couch" instead of "I want Daddy to sit on the couch." Or possibly that's a conceptual issue; it could be that since he wants it, obviously I must want it, too.

Last week he asked to play with his friend Christopher. This is, as far as I know, a first. He enjoys playing with Christopher, but up 'til now the parents have been making all the arrangements. It is, of course, gratifying that he likes Christopher enough to want to play with him, but it's also neat to see him think of the idea on his own.

He's still swimming, with both sets of grandparents. He enjoys the swim ring, and is extremely comfortable in the water. I am also happy to see that he's extremely cautious about the water if he doesn't have the swim ring on. His ability to move himself around by kicking his legs is getting better, and he's learned how to splash people - what he lacks in aim, he makes up in enthusiasm.

New imagination
In the last entry, I noted that Theron was now composing conversations between two of his stuffed animals. Since then, all the animals (and several other toys) have started talking. The Beautiful Woman and I have pretty much given up on trying to have a different voice for each animal. It seemed like a good idea when it was just Octopus Monster and E.R. the Doggy, but now there's just too many of them.

Theron's developing a whole little repertoire of conversations and scenarios. Pretty soon he won't need us to play any of the animals. I'm kind of looking forward to that... but I might miss flying the Octopus Monster around.

Speaking of Stuffed Animals
Last Thursday, Theron's Mother's Day Out program had Australia Day. Apparently they've spent their summer session looking at a different country each day, and this time the subject was Australia.

Theron has actually been to Australia, though he was still inside his mother at the time. As a result of that trip, his room originally had something of an Australian theme. So, when Australia Day came 'round, my wife volunteered to send some visual aids for the occasion. Since she was out of town, I took Theron to school... along with three koalas, two wombats, a platypus, and three-foot-tall kangaroo, complete with a joey in her pouch. All stuffed animals, of course. Also, there was an Aboriginal snake totem - basically a stick carved to look like a snake.

The animals were apparently a pretty big hit, and I was careful to retrieve them and bring them home with us when the day was over. Later that night, after I put Theron to bed, I heard him crying in his room. When I went to check on him, he tearfully informed me that the animals wanted to get in his bed.

The kangaroo won't fit, of course. That's okay, because she has a place in a corner of the room. (I think she's guarding the closet.) But Theron is now, in addition to the usual menagerie, sleeping with three koalas, two wombats, and a platypus.

Theron and his menagerie
(Click for larger image)

Travel by Scooter
Theron's grandfather - my father - is a veteran garage sale explorer. He's also good at fixing things, but it's surprising how often that isn't necessary. People get rid of all sorts of things, often in surprisingly good condition.

His latest acquisition is a scooter - and it's Theron-sized. It's basically just a little platform, with two wheels at the back and one at the front. A pair of handlebars allow you to steer (by turning the front wheel). You basically just stand on the platform with one foot, and push with the other.

Theron thought this was brilliant. He had a little trouble figuring out which leg he preferred to stand on, but he had very little trouble with the basic concept - and he mastered the basics almost immediately. Here's a video of his first attempt:

Basic Politeness
Theron says, "Thank you," and "You're welcome." This isn't entirely new - he picked up the basic pattern in conjunction with "bless you" and sneezing. But at this point, any time someone says, "Thank you," he says, "You're welcome." Sometimes he even says, "Thank you," without prompting.

He's also working on compliments. This evening he did something - I don't remember what, exactly - and his mother said, "You're very clever, Theron." He looked at her and said, "You're very clever, Mommy."

Sole caregiver
The Beautiful Woman went out of town for a couple of days last week. She left on Thursday morning (early), and came back early Saturday evening. She was visiting a friend in Louisiana, and she left me in charge of Theron. Muwahahahahaha... ahem. Pardon that.

I like being the sort of family where we can do something like that and it's no big deal. Theron missed her, but not to the point of being inconsolable or even noticeably upset. (He'd point out her car every time we entered the garage, and kept telling me that Mommy was at work.) His usual schedule was still in place, so he had Mother's Day Out on Thursday, and Gymnastics on Friday morning. I also had plenty of help from both sets of grandparents; my folks fed me on Thursday night, and my wife's folks fed me on Friday.

Again, I like being part of a family where I can have dinner with my in-laws, without my wife, and there's nothing awkward or weird or strained about it. I don't know where this sit-com cliche of Horrible In-Laws comes from, but if that's a common experience then there must be a lot of people out there doing something wrong.

So we made it through Thursday and Friday without any sort of crisis, and on Saturday we went and picked the Beautiful Woman up at the airport. Theron gave her a classic movie-reunion greeting: he ran up to her, grinning hugely, with his arms outspread. Then he gave her a great big hug.

And then we went to eat Mediterranean food.

Daddy's other games
I've mentioned before that Theron loves watching me play my video game. He actually asks me to play (usually at bedtime, sometimes first thing in the morning). As with so many other things about raising a child, this is wonderful and horrible in equal measures.

I can't play Morrowind any more.

Don't get me wrong: Theron still loves it. He has now reached the stage where he wants to be a Wingy Monster. (Mommy is an Icy Monster, and Daddy is - usually - a Scamp. Nana is a Golden Monster.) For a preference, he wants to be a Wingy Monster with a Big Spear. He wants to fall in the mucky water, and bonk Monster Fish wherever he finds them.

No, the problem is that I'm completely burnt out on the game. I didn't think that was possible, but apparently it is.

In an effort to satisfy the boy without completely sacrificing my own sanity, I've started hunting around for other games we might use. The first attempt was Kya: Dark Legacy. This was actually pretty successful. Kya is this girl who gets sucked into another world, where she spends her time bonking Wolfy Monsters and then turning them back into Friendly Monsters. She also does a lot of flying (or falling) through the air; these trips end (if I'm lucky) with a safe landing on a giant, inflatable mushroom. There's a certain amount of... I'm not sure whether to describe it as surfing or snowboarding, but it's something along those lines - except with obstacles. Theron found all this extremely exciting; he now likes to be dropped onto his gymnastic mat, which he describes as a mushroom.

By far his favorite part, though, was the introduction of the Riding Lizard. A Riding Lizard is about the size of a horse, but looks like a small tyrannosaurus rex. Now, whenever we get in the pool, I have to be the Riding Lizard, and Theron zooms around on my back.

Having finished Kya, we then moved on to Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly. This is basically a game about a small purple dragon, on a quest to retrieve the stolen dragonflies (and the gems from the Dragon Treasury). Spyro flies, swims, and bonks things, so Theron is pretty happy with this, too. Also, it was written as a kids' game, so - in addition to being brightly colored, cute, and funny - it's fairly easy to play. This is a great relief to me.

The Bonking Stick
A couple of weeks ago, Theron took some of the attachments off the vacuum cleaner to make a tube about two feet long. He decided that this was his spear, and ran around bonking things with it (gently).

Unfortunately, we can't really spare the parts from the vacuum. So, the Beautiful Woman gave him a thin wooden wand: the Bonking Stick. It was originally part of a cat toy, sort of like a fishing rod with a fluffy thing that dangled from one end for the cats to chase.

They then took turns bonking each other (gently), and falling down dramatically. This was, of course, hysterically funny.

Unfortunately, the first time I tried it, Theron swept the stick around at just the wrong moment. I landed on the stick and broke it in half. I wasn't too heartbroken about that, because I wasn't entirely comfortable with Theron swishing that particular stick around.

So, on Friday after gymnastics, we stopped by a hardware store and bought a few items: pvc pipe, foam padding, and duct tape. When we got home, I built Theron a pair of new Bonking Sticks. I'm much happier with these, because they're padded. He could still knock things over with them, but he's much less likely to, say, scratch up the TV screen. And, since we now have two of them, Theron and I can each have our own Bonking Stick when we bonk each other.

And now, more pictures and video:

The Bonking Stick

Swim Ring & Dinosaur

Jumping on the Bed

Theron on his Scooter

Theron on a table

Theron tries the
bicycle trailer