We’ve Broken The Little One

Teddy isn’t Charlie. Not by a long shot.

Firstly, he’s second. Secondly, he’s last. Which is to say, he’s the baby. Charlie is a training model. We love him fiercely, but there’s no denying that his very station means he’s the one we make all the mistakes with. He is then tasked with training us on how it all should look. He teaches us that all these transitions, the ones he’s made at least, are not to be so fretted over. We stress with him because he is at the tip of the spear for us. His firsts are our firsts. While we are going through them we can see all the ways we’ve made it hard on ourselves and even hard on Charlie. Fortunately we also see how resilient Charlie is and we learn that our screw ups didn’t actually screw him up. Just screwed us up, really.

imageTeddy’s the baby. It’s different. We can feel wistfulness because we now know how fast it all goes. With the first you learn how long a day is, with the last you learn how short the years are. How much it’s all slipping away. How much we aren’t ready even if he is. I would never say we sabotage, but more often with Teddy our screw ups are acts of commission. We don’t ever sabotage, but we deliberately do some real real stupid s#it.

So now, for the past month, and for as long as I can see into the future, we’re going to pay the penance for our misdeeds. My penance takes place on the floor of the boys bedroom between roughly 8 o’clock each night and 11. We’ve broken our boy.

It started innocently enough. I’d hold him in the glider each night, he’d slowly drift off in my arms. It was really quite beautiful. Last words always the same.

‘Open your butt.’

I know. Seemed needlessly assaultive to me as well. Turned out it wasn’t what he meant. I don’t really know how he came to this phrasing. I mean he seems to know what a butt is. But he was really just asking me to arch my back for a second so he could slide his inside arm around me as he snuggled in.

But now it’s been weeks since I’ve heard those three, magic, disturbing words that always meant rest was just around the corner for everyone. Not anymore. The little monster, and this does coincide with him discovering his voice (which in many cases could be classified as a hate crime if toddlers were prosecutable and adults were an oppressed class) just lays there, eyes wide staring at the ceiling. For hours. I frankly don’t know how he does it. I mean, he’s exhausted. At least he should be

This is not going to happen tear free. Nope. I’ve begun to redraw lines and enforce borders to try to break him. Which in this case means I draw the line at holding him in the stupid hope that he’ll relearn to fall asleep in my arms for no more than an hour. Hour and a half tops. But that’s it! Then, off to bed for you mister!

Will I lie next to you and hold your hand? Of course, buddy. I’m not a monster. What? That keeps you awake too. Sheesh. Well, let me just get a pillow and puffy blanky and make it comfy. We both know I”m gonna be down here for a while. But last night it was 10:12! 10:12 and he was asleep. I could leave! Until I stood up to do so. Then he whimpered. Then he whined. Before I knew it he was standing, crying and through tears and heavy breath he said, ‘hug me up, daddy!’

So of course I hugged him up. I mean seriously, he was sitting there, all cheeks, tears, crankiness and lovely. What was I to do? Say no? That’s some first kid nonsense. Charlie could confirm this if he weren’t feet away sleeping through the whole thing. Besides upon ‘hugging him up’ he fell asleep almost instantly. And we get to add, ‘Hug me up’, to the book of standard toddler phrases! But still, 3 hours nightly is a lot.

IMG_0076If you’d given me infinite monkeys on infinite keyboards they would never have banged out the phrase. One I never could have conceived of. One once conceived I would never have thought I’d so long to hear. But for all that is right and decent, Teddy, will you please go back to falling gently to sleep in my arms and uttering with eyes half shut.. ‘Daddy. Open your butt.’

5 Lessons Learned While Hiding in the Other Room

Home Day Fun..
Home Day Fun..

Have you ever taken a step back and tried to understand your toddlers understanding of the world? If not take a minute sometime to just observe. You might be surprised by what you find.

From time to time I am home alone with the boys for an hour or two on the weekends. It’s not often, but it happens and when it does I do my best to hide from them observe them from afar to see what I can learn about what they know. Here are a few of my conclusions.

  1. You don’t at all have to teach a child to hate – To the contrary. They come to it quite organically. That said, they have nary a care to your race, creed, sexual orientation or income bracket. Their sole determining factor between love and hate is whether or not you are giving them what they want when they want it. Furthermore, as toddlers, this may still result in them hating you. Granted, they have only the most vague sense of ‘hate’ and likely mean something more like, ‘I’m mad at you’, but still they are perhaps the demographic least afraid to hate. Granted, it’s usually balanced with cuddles but still.
  2. They are intuitively aware that posession is 9/10ths of the law – At least when they posess a thing.  When someone else is in possession of something, and really it can be anything, that to falls under the category of things that are rightfully theres because at one point they were holding it. Our four year old likes to say it was his ‘from when I was a baby.’
  3. Sharing is not a virtue, it’s a liability – This is mostly in regard to toys. My son told me yesterday that he wanted to play a game in which the only rules he could articulate were that ‘..all the toys in the world are mine.’ I’m not paraphrasing. He was so proud of himself for inventing this game. He thought he’d cracked a code or something.
  4. They have a sense of natural law – You use what you got. In our case we have two boys, 4 and 2. The big one is huge and he uses his hugeness to approprate property of the younger one, be it land or durable goods. The little one, he’s crazy. It’s like he’s in prison and he knows he has to act insane from time to time to keep the bigger one a little off balance and afraid to come after him. Its an intricate dance, but one that’s mostly entertaining and remarkably effective.
  5. They are aware of how adorable they are – Seriously, they know. They know that eventually we’ll break, whether its a laugh or a cuddle or all out crying, they on some level know that we are powerless over them in the end. Thankfully they tend to go about their days happy and grant us the illusion that we are in charge. I think they pity us.

Their is a good deal more to learn, but for now, I’m just going to hide in watch from the other room and hope they don’t hear me. Besides if they see me gorging on these Skittles I’ll have to share.