The intellectual equivalent of a ham sandwich.

It’s New Year’s Eve, and I’m thinking back on the past month. The trouble with all of this is exactly what the age old line indicates – things change so fast. It’s usually halfway through the month or more before I think, oh hmmm, what’s new this month? And by then I’m not quite sure. Although I’m saying all that and this feels like a month where not as much changed. And I’m saying that and here we’re probably about to have a novella post. Who knows, eh? Let’s dive in.

With the 16th month including Christmas I’d be remiss in not mentioning the hysterical but very sad picture from daycare when Santa came and visited (yes, they had a Santa and photo setup). When my wife went to pick up the kiddo they gave a picture of the sweet little boy mid wail, tears on his face, sitting on a smiling Santa’s lap. Classic! For my family we have a Christmas Eve get together with my mom’s side of the family and Santa shows up (who sounds shockingly like my dad …) and again, the kiddo was not having it. To be fair to Santa, the kiddo is VERY into mom and dad and pretty much no one else so Santa is just part of the greater ‘other.’

Speaking of that, the kiddo has been on a tear of a dad mode streak. It was very sad for my wife because he’d sometimes be upset if I just left the room, or handed him over to her, or anything where it was not he and I together. This is a natural thing, but it had been going on for a good stretch and was starting to tax my wife’s heart … Don’t you know I gave BIRTH to you, child!? You know, all that. But thankfully he started coming out of it just at her breaking point. The tiny tyrant strikes again.

The kiddo actually has one more person in his repertoire of acceptable people – the person I hand him off to at daycare. For the first while he did not like being handed off at all … no sir. But then we hit a golden stretch where he would actually open up his arms and go for a hug-like handoff. He was happy and excited to see her and oh, dear future self, you know how much better that made the start of my workday than handing off a crying little sweetheart. But lately, the last few weeks or so, he wasn’t crying but he wasn’t interested in being handed off either … I attributed it to the strong dad-mode phase of just wanting to be with me. And now, when daycare starts back up after the New Year (I’m writing this on New Year’s Eve) he’ll be in a new room and that means a new handoff routine and new people. In the previous room his favorite person would literally let me hand him off to her and he’d be held by her for who knows how long (could’ve been just till I got to my car, who knows). This was great because he’s a cuddly little fella and that helps ease the transition I imagine. At the new room do I just set him down? Or what? He’s also the only non-walking kiddo in that room which probably doesn’t matter to him one bit but I kind of hope he’ll have some sense of peer pressure and decide, ‘aw heck, guess I’ll try that walking thing.’

Anywho, big changes afoot there that I am dreading. Hopefully it’ll be a quicker transition than I am anticipating.

Speaking of the morning routine, part of that now includes the kiddo saying some new words. Usually I walk into the kitchen holding the kiddo and say, ‘want to have breakfast?’ to which he responds ‘breakfast’ and then I’ll say, ‘what do we need first?’ and he’ll say ‘a bowl.’ (In a book I read I recommended not using articles … I see why now. He thinks bowl is a-bowl, and he thinks door is, a-door … Close enough, eh?) And then I say, ‘what do we need next?’ and he says, ‘a bowl’ … even though we already have bowls and I’m holding a spoon in my hand. So, we’ll get that next step sometime.

The kiddo has also improved his fine motor skills a great deal. We had a short stretch where he was interested in using the spoon and feeding himself … but that waned. BUT, he figured out how to cross his fingers and that thrills him. It’s his pointer and middle finger and he’ll sit and just stare at his hand and do that. If you then hold your hand up for him to see and cross your fingers he looks at you with this pleased as can be grin. Like, YEAH! ISN’T THAT AWESOME!?

I was also surprised and delighted one day when I noticed him trying to snap. We were visiting my family for Christmas and standing in line for an aquarium (which he LOVED) and I was snapping along with music and then would watch his hands. Sure enough, he’s staring and pinching his tiny little thumb and middle finger together and sort of slowly rubbing them together. The kid’s got talent! (I have no idea if other kids already know this by age or if that’s typical or what … but it delights me.)

Also over Christmas he finally figured out his ears! We had been doing the ‘where’s your nose?!’ and ‘where’s your belly?’ which he had no problem, but ears, eyes and mouth had continued to elude him. Sometime while visiting family it clicked and where’s your mouth, and where are your ears registered delightful responses. I especially like the ears question because he grabs both and kinda plays with them. He’s been on a quest since a few months old to rip my ears off so hopefully he’ll redirect some of that loving attention to his own ears.

Ok last Christmas time story. For the trip we stayed about half the nights at my parent’s house, and half at my sister’s. Well, sorta. The first night at my sister’s the kiddo went down too late (we had gone out to dinner) and crashed right away. We didn’t end up talking about how to handle if he wakes up crying because he had been sleeping great at my parent’s. Mistake. My sister has two kids and my wife and I assumed we’d want to take care of the little fella pronto if he woke up crying. A bit after midnight he wakes up crying and we spring to action pretty quickly, one of us going in to say nice things and rub his back. … No dice. We take turns doing that one or two times (?) and then decide to bring him into bed with us. … Also no dice, but a much more time consuming version of no dice. He just squirms and wiggles and moves around and is most definitely not sleeping but wants to be sleeping. We decide to take him back into his bed and he is quiet for a bit before the crying starts again. I go in and decide to spend a longer chunk of time in there with my hand on his back to let him drift off while being comforted. I grab a pacifier he had thrown out of the crib (he likes to do that when frustrated with sleep) and put it next to him in the crib. He responds by taking the pacifier out of his mouth, reaching his hands between the crib slats and dropping it on the ground. He then grabs the pacifier that I had just placed in there, reaches his hands out between the crib slats and drops it on the ground. Ok then. Message received. My wife heads to the couch in the family room, and I go lay down in bed with him and he is AWAKE. He says something to me happily, sits up and then body slams my chest (he likes to do this sometimes). I try for a while then head out to my wife to discuss (at this point it’s a bit after 2 am which means we’ve been trying to get him back to sleep for two stinking hours). We were afraid to put him back in his crib to let him cry it out because of the noise so … we hop in the car and drive 45 minutes to my parent’s house (with our happy little very awake child sitting in the back babbling and making raspberry noises occasionally). I imagine my sister and brother-in-law were quite confused when they woke up to us having disappeared in the middle of the night. My sister said it was like a bad breakup where someone just bolts. My family will have a fun time bringing up our middle of the night fleeing for a while I imagine.

Ok, last five things. Quick hits!

1 – The kiddo is, I think, very aware of other people’s opinions on him. He will wave and smile and shrink away with shyness at TONS of strangers (he loves airports for this reason). But a new thing is that when mom or dad laugh while talking with other people, he’ll grin and laugh too. It’s very funny to me.

2 – A very strange, magical, and adorable thing is my son’s relationship with our handvac. Yeah, you read that right. It is hanging in the laundry room and he will point to it very deliberately while being held. So you walk over to it, points, walk closer, points … and then you eventually get to the point (3 feet away or so) where he gives out a quiet little whimper of fear, clutches you and looks away. You step away and boom, he’s back to pointing at it. He has this love/fear thing going. But we’ve accommodated this and he has slowly gotten closer and closer before being afraid to the point that now he will touch the handvac for a few seconds before the whimper arrives. Strange kid.

3 – Often after work I will hold the kiddo, pull out my cell phone and ask, ‘want to have a dance party?’ And then I’ll put on some music. This is to the point that if I am holding him and pull out my cell phone he says something and immediately begins dancing (which is a sort of one-armed aggressive up-down movement).

4 – My wife’s maiden name is one-syllable, and more often than not I use her maiden name instead of her first name. (To the point that when we’re visiting family she finds it strange for me to use her first name.) Our son heard me say ‘hey <last name>’ so much that he has picked up on saying this same phrase. I don’t think he knows <last name> is my wife, he’ll just randomly say it. It’s pretty fun.

5 – The walking front. Oh, the walking front. It feels like so long ago that we had the disappointing 15 month appointment and were so worried about his walking status. Well, he’s still not walking but somehow the fear has dissipated. My wife called the early intervention folks who advised we call back later because he was too young, and given that he’s premature, for him to qualify for that help. But in a few weeks we may well be making that call. In the meantime he has improved his semi-walking game because he can now turn his little zebra walker when he walks around with it, and he’s doing more brief .5 second stands on occasion. Fingers crossed, eh future self?

Til next time, DWEEBS.

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