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Quiet, too Quiet

Thankfully, LTD enjoys playing in his room by himself for decent chunks of time. Long enough for me to take care of some business around the house here and there. However, no matter how focused I am on getting things done I always monitor him with my ears. As a toddler he makes a fair amount of noise even when alone. Of course when he does play in his room for a long stretch the situation eventually evolves into one where I utter the age old statement, ‘it’s quiet, too quiet.’ After the phrase is said out loud I am forced to go past his room to check it out. About one percent of the time he has fallen asleep on the floor, the other 99 percent of the time he is sitting in the corner reading books.

I assure you that there is no better feeling than to spy on your quiet kid and find him reading books instead of trying to figure out how to climb on top of the clothes bureau. Of course by reading I mean he is just looking at the pictures in the books but I’ll take it any way I can get it. In fact there are times when he is looking at books for upward of 20 minutes and you can’t beat that for getting stuff done around the house. Lately, he has started to talk to himself during book time so my best guess is that he is acting out the stories which changes quiet time to from being helpful into downright cute.

The Penalty Box

During our 18 month check up, the doctor asked if I had any questions. I basically had only one, do you have any advice on discipline? He gave a slight chuckle and basically shared a few pieces of advice that he has learned over the years. The plan when dealing with a crazy toddler was pretty simple in theory if not in practice. It is all about distraction, distraction, and distraction. He suggested using the loud sharp, No, only for real scary situations such as when he is about to stick a fork in an electrical outlet. If he is just being mischievous use different warnings because after awhile the No would just become white noise. And if all this should fail to calm the beast? The so-called Time Out works with toddlers in the sense that it takes them out of the action. Of course it is also pretty much a Time Out for you, as you have to make sure they stay in one place. I have found the playpen makes a pretty nice temporary baby jail as most people don’t have access to Alcatraz.

However, the doctor’s most important advice came when we hit upon the subject of the dreaded temper tantrum, the kind that are sprinkled with a mix of kicking and screaming on top. The best tactic is to lose the battle but win the war. The toddler can scream and flip out longer than you can, in other words, you can’t match him at his level. You have to go on defense by excusing yourself to another location and calming yourself down or in his words doing a primal scream into a pillow. Once refreshed and hydrated you are ready to deal with the little guy for round two. So in the end like everything else in life it is important to just breathe.

One Year Plus One Half

Last week LTD reached the milestone of 18 months or a year and half to people who don’t recognize time as ticked off in months. I could go on and on about all the changes and development that has happened to the little guy in a year and half, but what really amazes me is that it has only been a year and half. I can’t remember what I did for the other 34 years of my life because it feels like I have been taking care of this kid for all of them. I feel like a year and half isn’t really that much. If you were planning a trip to Australia and it was year and half away you could deal view as not being a big deal. However, this past year and half has been filled with the longest days of my life. It just seems crazy to feel this way and we haven’t even hit the number two mark. Not to mention how many years it still is until we even hit kindergarten. I guess in the end the only thing to do is see how many shots the little guy will get at his 18 month doctors appointment and start measuring time differently.

Buckle Me In

When LTD sets his young mind to something it can be exhausting. His steely determination should be something I’m proud of, instead it is breaking me. The little guy is now obsessed with buckles. The kind that snap on a backpack, stroller, car seat, shopping cart or highchair. I know what you’re thinking, what’s the big deal, just let him play with them. Well, the big deal is that he can’t unbuckle them he can only buckle them so he shoves one in my face and screams until I unclick it so he can click it back in. I’m thankfully he can’t unbuckle them so he doesn’t escape the high chair or car seat, but his obsession is tearing me apart. He truly never gets tired of it. Also, it’s not something that takes time to do on his own before he comes to me. I unclick it and he clicks it right back in, repeat. He enforces his new favorite thing through the click it or ticket law. Expect in his case the ticket is actually him yelling. Buckle up for safety. The safety of my ears.

On…Off…On…Off

And then he created light. No, LTD hasn’t been playing god, he just has discovered that if you flip a light a switch you get light. He first screams and begs to be placed near the switch. Next, he uses his tiny finger and all his might to flip it. Then as the warm light hits the back of his neck he turns to look at the source. Finally, he flips the switch again and as the light vanishes he looks at the light. Much like our distant cousins the Neanderthal, LTD has discovered cause and effect. Despite how much he screams until I let him flip the switch it is pretty heart warming seeing his little brain come alive. We shall see how long that feeling lasts and we shall also count down the days until I tell him to shut of the light in his room when he leaves for the first time.

Earth Day is Everyday

LTD the human tornado has firmly put one object in his sights, the recycle bin. The little guy is obsessed with both the paper bin and the plastic/metal bin. On the one hand I let him have at it because it occupies his attention for longer than most things and isn’t really dangerous. However, if you talk about one hand you have to talk about the other. He makes a wicked bad mess. The plastic isn’t so bad, I just pick it all up and put in back in the bin and besides he keeps me honest because now I make sure to thoroughly wash everything. The paper is a different story. You see, LTD takes his career as the human tornado very seriously and while on the job he makes sure to not only pull all the paper goods out of the bin but also to rip them apart into tiny little pieces. It would appear the terms of his tornado contract specifically state that he does not have to clean up after shredding. I hope the collectors appreciate that he is doing their job for them.

Oh, Great, We Get to do it Again

LTD and I have a pretty tight daily routine. However, the routine can be a cruel goddess, she gives with one hand and takes with the other. The benefits of our routine keep us from going into the tall grass. Kids need structure and I need a schedule to follow when I’m too tired to think straight. Also, it’s important to note that the routine doesn’t destroy creativity or spontaneity, rather it allows the little guy to take a nap and eat meals without getting hungry enough to have a level five meltdown. The routine is great if someone else has to take care of LTD, he hardly notices we’ve gone.

The flip side to the positive aspects of the daily routine lie in the brutal soul stripping sameness of every day activities. In and out of the car, putting the shoes and socks back on, and my personal demon the highchair tray. It seems as if I am always washing it. And let’s not forget the diapers or telling him to stop sticking his finger in the dog’s eye. One simple ritual from our daily routine somehow manages to make everything else worth doing every day. LTD will wander behind the couch and then pop out, open is mouth into a huge gaping grin and say, ‘ahhhhh.’

Yeah, Are You Gonna Finish That?

Normally, I have to inhale my lunch over the sink while LTD takes his nap. I never know how long he will be asleep for and have to plan accordingly. However, occasionally, I will eat in front of him. When that happens all hell breaks loose. When eating in front of friends, co- workers or family; you may say, this is good, try a taste or they may say, that looks yummy can I have a bite? Well, LTD has no use for such polite manners. He demands a bite. He lets his desire for your food be known through physical and verbal actions. He points and waves his hand in the direction of the delicious pizza you are about to eat. He screams ‘uh’ over and over and over again until you simply break. Don’t even get me started on what happens if you try and eat Dairy Queen in front of him. The whole scene turns into Lord of the Flies and I get to be that Piggy kid with the glasses. Time for me to go back to eating quickly over the sink.

Hulk Smash

Another day another baby milestone. Unfortunately, LTD’s new favorite thing to do is loud, destructive and annoying. That’s right, folks, the little guy has taken to banging things on the coffee table. It was bad enough when he tries to eat the coffee table, but now he is really testing the structural integrity of both the table and my ears. However, I can’t help but feel this is karmic pay back from my Hulk phase when I was a lad. I don’t want you to think he is obsessed with just the table; he also bangs things on the floor, the cabinets and my head.

The amazing thing about the little caveman’s smashing fetish is that he hasn’t actually smashed anything. I chalk this up to the toys being well made and the surprising strength of the varnish on the coffee table. Sadly, I fear the first thing to go will be my head. The bright side to all this banging that I assume as he grows this behavior will stop. I mean how long can a little boy really enjoy smashing and hitting things?

Sweat Lodge

Any one living on the east coast knows that it seems like this summer has been one long heat wave. Beyond the Car Seat doesn’t want to have a debate about global climate change except to say this: Last week our central air conked out. The inside thermostat was in the 90’s and the whole family was in a foul mood for a few days. Thankfully, our electrician/plumber Joe was able to fix it and now life is back to normal. The internal heat wave caused us all to sweat profusely and things quickly devolved into mild unpleasantness as our society began to break down. The baby sweat caused LTD’s hair to become matted down and he looked like a hobo. It didn’t help that he spent most of the time without a shirt on. There is something a little pathetic about seeing a kid that sweaty, I think because he doesn’t know to clean himself up and make himself presentable. He brought new meaning to the word disheveled. Now that the house is cool and the heat wave finally over I appreciate life more and express joy that my kid’s appearance no longer attracts harsh stares directed at me by society’s judges.