Thursday, January 15, 2009

Beheading a wiseman and other Christmas tales

Adam showed his love this Christmas by beheading both a shepherd and a wiseman from his ceramic nativity set (nothing that a little superglue couldn't repair) and by chucking Baby Jesus under the couch. I had to retrieve Jesus at least a dozen times. **Sorry about that, Baby Jesus!

One of Adam’s Christmas gifts this year was a broom and dustpan from Santa. The idea came after watching him lug our regular-sized broom around, which always ended with him losing control of the broom, the broom falling over, Adam falling over, then Adam getting frustrated and yelling “NO!” at the broom. He now has full control of his broom. Any time I get out my broom, he heads off in search of his. I even taught him how to sweep the crumbs under the rug right before company comes over.

Even though he doesn't really "get" Christmas just yet, that didn't stop his godparents — Uncle Shawn and Auntie Trish—and both sets of grandparents from spoiling him. He also received clothes, toys, and books from his aunts, uncles, and cousins on Aaron’s side, two of his great-aunties, his great-grandparents, and even a few of our close friends (which was definitely a surprise).
Besides the broom, he REALLY likes the Leap Frog Fridge Farm refrigerator magnets he received from my parents. Adam and I dance in the kitchen to the banjo tune of “We’ll be comin’ ‘round the mountain” every day, and I’m pretty sure I’ve gone to bed with this song stuck in my head: “You put the duck in front, you put the cow behind, put them together, and what do you find? A duck-cow, that’s silly!”

My 25-year-old baby brother Nick’s Christmas gift to Adam was a bright orange rubber ball, complete with crazy rubber spikes sticking out everywhere. It looks like a big orange porcupine. Nick watched with eager anticipation as Adam opened it, hoping for a positive reaction. His reaction was a look of terror and scooting away from the ball as fast as he could, chanting “no-no-no-no-no” as he hid behind Aaron. Nick felt bad that Adam didn’t like his gift, so kept showing him the ball as the night went on, hoping he’d come around to it. He didn’t. We finally had to hide the ball on Nick so Adam could relax. (Even after we hid it, Adam looked around the room and asked timidly, “Ball?” like it was going to attack him from its hiding spot.)
Since then, he has worked up the courage to touch the ball, but he definitely isn’t ready to play with it. When you ask him what he got from Uncle Nick for Christmas, he answers with wide-eyed seriousness, “Ball.”
I’m going to re-gift it when Nick has kids of his own some day.

Right after the holidays Adam started saying the name Nick whether actually referring to Nick (and the ball), my older brother Shawn, Jeremy, Russ, my dad, Aaron’s dad, Aaron’s brother Josh, any of our guy friends, some of our girl friends, and just about anyone else.
When Aaron and Adam were grocery shopping, Adam shouted “Hi Nick!” to a 50-something man as he walked past their cart.
The man stopped, looked incredulously at Adam, then asked Aaron, “Did he just say ‘Hi Nick’?”
Aaron was about to explain that it was Adam’s favorite name of the moment, when the guy exclaimed, “MY NAME IS NICK! That boy is a genius!”
Well, we can’t argue with that now, can we?

Adam and I were snuggling this morning when he sat up, stared intently at my face, then leaned over and gave me a big kiss on the lips. Because it wasn’t the usual “on demand” kiss, it was extra sweet. I wish I could bottle these moments up and take them out years later as a reminder of the “good old days” … I’m thinking it would come in handy when he’s a smelly 15-year-old teenager who’s too lazy to take out the garbage.

Statistically he’s 21 pounds and 31.5 inches long, which puts him in the FIFTH percentile for weight (meaning out of 100 kids his age, only FIVE are smaller than him!) and 30th for height. The doc isn’t concerned about his weight so I’m not worried. I just think it’s funny that he was in the 90th percentile for weight when he was a month or two old, and I was worried that I was going to be raising a sumo wrestler. I don’t think he’s going to be sumo wrestling anymore.

He calls grapes “balls.” “Mo balls, plea?” Actually, he’s OBSESSED with balls. (Just not his own … yet.)

Bikes are “vroom, vrooms” (complete with a motorcycle wrist-twist.) We take regular field trips down to the basement to check out the vroom vrooms. Every time we go down there, Adam whispers in hushed amazement "WOW!"

When he wants you to follow him, he’ll motion with his hand and say “C’mon.”

He’ll say my name over and over if he wants to get my attention. “Mom-mom-mom-mom-MOM!”

He’s a little performer and makes us laugh every day. He even has a “silly face” where he closes his eyes and scrunches up his nose.

He’s very verbal and talk, talk, talking from sun up to sun down. Sometimes we don’t understand a word of it, other times we catch a word or two, and sometimes he speaks as clear as could be. (Like pointing at Aaron’s beer and saying, “WANT THAT.”) He still loves it when we read to him and is regularly dragging his books around, chanting, “BOO-k, BOO-k” like he has some sort of foreign accent.

Maybe all 17-month-olds love to jam, but I like to think that Adam inherited some sort of dancing gene. I’ve never met a dance floor I didn’t like (even when slipping on someone’s spilled drink), Aaron is a great dancer (to all the men who say they “don’t dance,” I say: BORING!), my brother Shawn used to dance once a week at the Gold Rush Nightclub (and is still an awesome dancer), my brother Nick has some “mad moves,” and now Adam is proving that he can shake it with the best of us. He dances to the radio, his Leap Frog Fridge Farm, his Raffi CD, my Prince CD, to the church band at St. Mark’s, and to musical Christmas ornaments (particularly a rapping Santa at our house, a saxophone-playing snowman at Grandma Patti’s, and a singing snowman and his dog over at my parents’ house). Adam has even danced to cell phone ring tones. He has danced while sitting down and while standing up. He has danced his way down hallways and across living room floors and in kitchens and in the car. In the wise words of Lee Ann Womack, when he has the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope he dances.

Adam goes CRAZY when he sees a dog on TV or outside. He can’t get enough of my brother’s dog, Bella (referred to simply as “Woof woof”), and chased after my aunt and cousins’ Chihuahuas (four of them total) for hours on Christmas Day. I wish we could buy a dog, but it wouldn’t be fair to leave a pooch in our house from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday - Friday, our house isn’t really big enough (it feels cramped with just the three of us living there), and we’re gone about one weekend every month, which would leave us with the predicament of finding a dog sitter. Maybe someday, when we get different jobs and move to a bigger house, we’ll buy Adam a dog.

He has a tiny bit of a temper. When he tripped over one of his toys the other day, he promptly got up, walked over to the toy, yelled “NO!” and slapped it. (There. You take THAT, you inanimate object!)

He has sampled my parents’ cat’s food THREE different times now. The last time I busted him, it went down like this:
“Adam, no-no. Put that kitty food back.”
He quickly shoves a few pieces into his mouth.
“Adam, no. You don’t eat kitty food!”
Chew, chew, chew. Look of disgust. Then spit, spit, spit. Frantically scrapes his tongue with his little fingers. More spitting.
I truly hope he learned his lesson that last time.

He is a Master Sorter. He takes things out, transfers them, then returns them. He’s done this with a basket of plastic Easter eggs, Tupperware containers, a fake vegetable garden in the Children's Museum Hmong exhibit, small toys, blocks, and crayons. All efforts to get him interested in coloring have failed. He’s only interested in sorting the crayons. His very favorite things to sort, though, are my tampons. He sorts them, carries them around, and then puts them back into the box, one-by-one. He could be learning his colors this way (green, yellow, blue) or his shapes (big, medium, small). It’s educational! One morning, while I was doing my hair, I looked over and he was sitting in the hallway, wearing a cardboard applicator on his finger like a finger puppet, with the string and tampon hanging off to the side. I thought it was hilarious, Adam thought he invented a new toy, shouting “Mama! Mama! Look!” as he dangled it around, and Aaron was totally NOT amused.

In the past few weeks, our usually good eater has been on a Vegetable Strike. He won’t eat peas or carrots or broccoli or green beans or squash unless we find creative ways to hide them in his food. Our doctor told us that he’s never seen a parent win a food battle with a toddler. Very encouraging. He told us to do the best we can.
Our daycare provider, Mary, thought she had figured out a way to fool him into eating his veggies.
“I put the ketchup on his plate, and he dipped each green bean in the ketchup before gobbling them up! I thought, ‘This is great! I’ll serve ketchup all the time!’”
When she took him out of his high chair, she said it was like an “avalanche” of green beans fell off his lap.
He had LICKED the ketchup off each bean before hiding the evidence under the tray on his lap. Based on the amount of beans that fell on the floor, she said it looked like he hadn’t swallowed a single one.

The wall across from his high chair has now been attacked by flying hamburger, spaghetti, fish sticks, tater tots, rice, pasta, chicken, squash, corn, French fries, chicken noodle soup, crackers, meatballs, hot dish, waffles, toast, eggs, bacon, and pancakes. We have tried over and over to sternly tell him NOT TO THROW HIS FOOD, but it doesn’t seem to sink in. (It’s usually how he signals to us that he’s done eating, as annoying as that can be.) He’s also a very messy eater, smearing sauce all over his face, splattering food on his sleeves, and wiping his hands in his hair a minimum of three times throughout the meal, but I can’t get mad about that. Have you ever seen me eat?

I always think it’s sort of goofy when people say they can’t remember what life was like before their kids arrived. Really? You can’t remember the 20-or-30-some years that preceded their arrival? So much for those memories.
I remember what my life was like before Adam, but now that he's here, I don’t ever want to think about being without him. I like the New Normal. It's a pretty amazing place.