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In which Theron becomes a Puppy Dog
September, 2009

Theron has been a puppy dog for about the last two weeks. He runs around on all fours, he barks, he pants, and he lets us scratch him behind the ears. This could be really annoying, except he isn't using it that way. He nods and barks to mean "yes", or shakes his head and barks to mean "no". He still eats his food with a fork.* He's generally well behaved, it's just that he's a well-behaved puppy dog.

This is, I think, the logical progression of Learning To Pretend. Back in June, Theron started speaking for two of his stuffed animals. By July, all the stuffed animals (and most of his toys) were talking, and Theron had taken to insisting that he was a Wingy Monster. By the middle of August, he was having conversations between his fork and his juice cup. Around the beginning of September, he became a puppy dog - but unlike his earlier career as a Wingy Monster, he now actually behaves like a puppy dog. More recently, he's added "frog" and "cat" to his repertoire.

Plus, he's started to tell stories.

Get that song out of my brain
His current viewing obsession is the Mickey Mouse Club (the newest version, done in middlin'-decent computer animation). The music is completely different from what I remember from my youth, and there are no live human beings anywhere on the show, but overall I have to say that it's pretty good. Theron loves it, and is busily trying to memorize as many episodes as he can manage. As a result, I find myself humming the "Hot Dog" song at some very odd moments.**

He also makes us dance to the opening and closing songs, but perhaps it's best if we just ignore that and move along, yes?

Anyway, this has led to yet another round of "Guess What Theron's Referring To Now". Not only is he trying to memorize the entire show, he's incorporating bits of it into other things. On the way home from church with his grandparents last Sunday, he sang "Look At Donald And His Ducks"***. A few days ago in our living room, he picked up a rubber ball and pressed a block against the bottom of it: "Look! Is a Glove Balloon!" Last night, he was playing with the rubber ducks in the bathtub, and had one of them sit in a plastic cup and ride up to the telescope - and explained to us what the ducks were doing.

All of this is directly attributable to the Mickey Mouse Club, but it's the last bit that really interests me. He's pulling a scenario from one source, inserting his own characters, and running with it. (In the show, they looked at various towers through the telescope, until they found the Halloween Tower. In the bathtub, they just looked at the Candy Tower.) This is, I think, the starting point for telling his own stories. ("The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources." ~Albert Einstein****)

Playing with Daddy's Toys
Shortly after I posted the last entry, my father - Theron's grandfather - went up into his attic and brought down a box of toys which had been... hibernating... up there. There were something like twenty-eight Star Wars figures, along with one G.I. Joe, a couple of Transformers, a dozen random other figures, and a small pile of broken toy-bits. Among the random others were some old Dungeons and Dragons figures - more like molded plastic statues than action figures - which we took outside for Theron to play with in the dirt.

Theron thought this was great. "Look! The Elf has a sword!" was followed by "Look! The Lizard Monster has a sword and a axe!" and similar exclamations. He now uses the creatures to cut sand and talk to each other. We expect adventures to follow shortly.

Making his opinion known, Part One
Theron is now attending his Mother's Day Out program four days a week. This is good for two things: his socialization, and my wife's sanity. He's moved up to the next class, and seems to be okay with that. All is well on that front, with one small exception...

There's a girl in his class who doesn't really want to be there. Apparently she cries pretty much from the time she's dropped off until the time she leaves. And the other day, Theron walked up to her while they were playing outside and said: "Stop crying!"

Theron's teacher related this to my wife and the teacher confessed that she felt like cheering, having wanted to tell the little girl the same thing. I have no idea whether this had any effect on the girl, but it's funny to me that he'd do that. For the most part, Theron is only distantly aware that other children even exist.

Making his opinion known, Part Two
A couple of weeks ago we were at the Bounce House Place. We, in this case, consisted of myself and Theron; I was giving the Beautiful Woman a little time off. This is generally a good arrangement, since Theron can exercise and I can play on my laptop.

Theron has, incidentally, added a new element to his bounce house activities. This time, when he reached the bottom of the big slide, he practiced crashing... dramatically:


(Video)

We'd been there, I think, about three hours. It was now time to go. So I shut everything down and went to collect Theron. He was less than enthusiastic about this, and asked for "one more slide". So I said, "Sure, why not?" and turned him loose. He immediately went to the bouncy slide in the far corner of the building and disappeared into the back of it. It has these high walls around the back, and little tunnels to get in. Theron went in... and didn't come out, and didn't come out, and didn't come out.

I eventually located him, by holding the digital camera above the back wall and watching the viewscreen. (In the process, I got a very odd little video of a girl - maybe eight years old - coming up to him, inspecting his hand, then kissing one finger and walking off.) Finally, Theron scooted back out the entrance tunnel, and tried to go back in the other tunnel. I caught his ankle and dragged him out.
Me: "Time to go home."
Theron: "No! Time to stay here!"

One more piece of news
The Beautiful Woman is pregnant again. It's a little too early to say that we're going to have another kid, since any number of things could go wrong between now and then. But, my wife is pregnant, and according to the sonogram there is a detectable heartbeat and the embryo has implanted in the right place. Also, her THC (or HGH, or HCG, or whatever that hormone is actually called), her hormone levels are doubling the way they're supposed to. After the last attempt - the one that miscarried - this is something of a relief.

Like I said, this isn't full-grown News. But what news there is, is good.

And now, more pictures and videos
I decided to make up for the last entry by including a whole bunch of things. It's funny to me how many of the really fun elements of parenting don't fit into any particular narrative structure. Enjoy!


Monster Ball in Jar and Bag-Cape...
(Picture)

...so we got out a real cape...
(Picture)

...and later, he added Bunny Ears.
(Picture)

Not afraid of heights
(Picture)

Black Toes (from crafts)
(Picture)

Part-time Leprechaun
(Picture)

The Cave of Pillows
(Picture)

Beach Vacation
(Picture)

No more monkeys...
(Video)

Putting the Monster Ball in the Jar
(Video)

The Lobster attacks Daddy
(Video)

Making a Headstand
(Video)

Rocking in the Rocking Chair
(Video)

Making Breakfast
(Video)

Under The Pillows
(Video)

* Yes, apparently he's a puppy dog with opposable thumbs.

** In the shower was fairly understandable, but while playing HALO? This made a lot more sense after we realized that They Might Be Giants was responsible for the music. They Might Be Giants, for those who don't recognize the name, is a band. I shan't try to describe them, as I don't think I can do them justice; look around on i-Tunes or Youtube, and you'll see what I mean.

*** To the tune of "Old MacDonald Had A Farm", but with slightly different lyrics.

**** At least according to a Google search. I first encountered it in a roleplaying game.