filling space

I fell asleep on the couch Sunday afternoon after struggling with more GI bug issues. Apparently it’s a county-wide issue. I was blessed with it not once, but twice. Awesome.

Anyway, I fell asleep on the couch Sunday.

I always lie on my side with my legs bent at the knee.

Tucked in that space that my bent legs make, Eddie snuggles himself in and under my blanket to watch a movie quietly.

That is where he always fits, into the space I leave open.

If I am in the chair, he somehow finds his way up there too, even though he has long outgrown being two in that chair. But I can’t kick him out. This chair is where “we” began.

And so he fills any space that is left. His long legs sprawled over my lap, his head finding my shoulder.

When I put him to bed, we read a chapter book–right now it’s Winnie the Pooh. A chapter a night. Sometimes two if he asks really nice because I can’t say no to just one more chapter.

Once the light goes off, and our chatting stops, his breath becomes heavy and regular and he rolls into me, again filling the space.

When I am sitting on the couch, so is he…up against me so close there is no room for space. It’s instinctive to him to fill up any space between us.

When he was an infant, there was a lot of space between us, so much so that I sought help.

That was four years ago.

He was almost a year old.

I spent his whole first year putting distance between us because I was sick. But I didn’t have GI issues. Nope, I had brain issues.

Medication and therapy helped but it was a long road.

Now each time I noticed him right by my side, I smile because he doesn’t remember. He has no recollection of our hard start. What he knows is that his mom is his safe place–his protection from bears in his nightmares, as he says.

What he also doesn’t know is that he is my safe place too.

Every time I look at him I think of how far I have come and how I am so SO lucky to have him as my boy.

A Hairy Timeline

Cortney has been telling me for about a year that Charlie needed a haircut. I brushed it off until he made me a deal that he wouldn’t insist on a haircut if I agree that one will need to happen around Charlie’s second birthday (Eddie’s haircut was when he was two. Granted he was bald until he was almost one, but still).

Yesterday (Monday) was haircut day.

I have been thinking about it way WAY more than I should.

It’s just hair after all, right?

Before I was a mom I just didn’t get what the fuss was about baby’s first haircut. It’s JUST HAIR.

I regretfully take back all my know-it-all-ness.

And give you Charlie’s Hairy Timeline….

Charlie was born with what appeared to be pre-styled senator hair. Dapper little Bird.

Charlie was born with what appeared to be pre-styled senator hair. Dapper little Bird. My nephew said it was as soft as feathers.

By a month, the brown feathers have started to thin.

By a month, the brown feathers have started to thin.

 

Around six months he was back the style. My mom swore I was cutting it to the perfect style on the sly. I was not.

Around six months he was back the style. My mom swore I was cutting it to the perfect style on the sly. I was not.

By age one we were saying the first hints of "shaggy hair"

By age one we were saying the first hints of “shaggy hair”

 

Around 15 months we started realizing he also had the curl gene just like Eddie and Cortney.

Around 15 months we started realizing he also had the curl gene just like Eddie and Cortney.

Only six months ago I had to start trimming his bangs to keep them out of his eyes.

Only six months ago I had to start trimming his bangs to keep them out of his eyes.

 

Just before Christmas people started to comment that it was getting a bit long. So naturally I fell in love with it.

Just before Christmas people started to comment that it was getting a bit long. So naturally I fell in love with it.

Just a month ago.

Just a month ago.

 

Last week Thursday.

Last week Thursday.

waiting for cousin Rachel to finish cutting Eddie's hair so he can go next.

waiting for cousin Rachel to finish cutting Eddie’s hair so he can go next.

 

The last shot of the curls before they are cut off.

The last shot of the curls before they are cut off.

He did so well, though he seemed concerned the entire time.

He did so well, though he seemed concerned the entire time.

 

Haircuts = no smiles. It's serious  business.

Haircuts = no smiles. It’s serious business.

Hey ladies, I've got my first haircut. How you like me now?

Hey ladies, I’ve got my first haircut. How you like me now?

 

The curls are gone.

The curls are gone.

I am…not Ok yet.

But I will be.

For whatever reason the first haircut is the hardest.

I already told Cortney if there is a hint of curl after we wash it, you know I won’t be getting it cut for another six months…at least. Because I already miss burying my nose in those soft curls.

Especially because his hair smelled like cheese tonight after dinner.

Goodnight, Bird

“Charlie, are you ready for bed? Go night night?”

“noooo!” he tells me in his tiny voice, shaking his head so that his too-long hair flops around his face. “NO nigh nigh!” He furrows his brow at me.

“Charlie…do you want to rock-a-bye?  With Momma and Woof Woof and Blankie? Come rock with Momma?”

“Ah nigh nigh. Ah rock bye.” And he gathers up his puppy and blankie, tucking them snugly under each arm, and trots off to his room.

“Nigh nigh, Dad-do! Nigh nigh Ah-dee!” He calls as he waves.  Sometimes he stops for hugs and kisses. When he does decide to give kisses and hugs, he is very aggressive about it. If Eddie tries to get away without meeting Charlie’s demands for goodnight kisses and hugs, feet begin to stamp and a very small voice gets very, very big. “AH DEE! AH DEE NIGH NIGH!”

As I begin walking down the hallway towards his room, I can hear his little feet trucking after me.

He closes the door himself and finds me waiting for him in the glider. I pick him up and tuck him into the empty spaces against me. If I am not quick enough, he will look up at me and demand, “boat, ma ma. boat.”

And so I start singing Row, Row, Row Your Boat while he pushes his little fingers through the crochet of his blankie.

In the breath after I sing, he quickly mutters, “song,” from behind his Pipey.

This is my cue to begin singing You Are My Sunshine.

Sometimes he gazes up at me while I sing, but mostly he just rests his head in the spot on my chest that has pillowed his head since his first day.

Sometimes he pulls Woof Woof to his face, but mostly he lets his fingers weave in and out of his blankie.

After two songs we rock silently until he sits up and looks at me.

“Do you want to lay in your bed with Glowie?” I ask him.

He nods and mutters, “Yup”.

I scoop him up and hold him close, sniffing his hair and smootching that squishy cheek. I wish I fit in the crib with him so I could soak in his warm smell all night.  It’s so soothing.

But he leans toward his bed and I carefully lay him down on his pillow. He rolls to one side as I turn Glowie on, tuck blankie around him, and find his kitty and baby to lay next to him.

Goodnight, Bird

His face is so close to Glowie’s lit up face that his nose is almost touching the soft light of the glow worm. I stroke his cheek.

“Nigh night, Charlie Bird. I love you so much. Sleep tight and sweet dreams.”

He never utters a word as I leave, and it always appears that he will drift right off to sleep.  Yet less than five minutes later, I can hear him happily chattering with his Woof Woof and kitty and baby and Glowie.  Sometimes I hear him jumping in his bed.  Sometimes I hear him kicking the wall.

He almost never cries out or calls for us.

Eventually he finds a spot and falls asleep.

He is our “good” sleeper. Rarely does he need a buddy or help. Seldom does the throw a fit in protest of bedtime–any bed time be it nap or night time.

There are times I wish he “needed” me more, times I wish he wanted to cuddle and fall asleep on me. There are times I wish he just wanted to sleep in my arms.

Most of the time, though, I am Ok with his easy bedtime routine.

Besides Eddie still needs me to lie next to him at night until he falls asleep, and if I am lucky, he will curl up against me and breathe softly near my face.

Goodnight, Bird

two two

Dear Charlie,

You are twenty-two months today; two months from turning two.

It’s hit me sort of funny in a way I wasn’t expecting.  We were going along with life, being busy with the holidays and New Year and then suddenly…it was only two months until your birthday.  Two months to two years.

Charlie 22 months

You have changed and grown so much.

I search for that sleepy baby with the hair like feathers that once curled up under my chin in a swaddle to nap. I don’t know where he went.

I search for that quiet, stoic baby who took everything in and refused to smile on demand for anyone. I don’t know where he went either.

You spent your whole first year somehow connected to me. Ok, at least your first six months. The next six months I had to go back to work, but when I was with you, you were on my hip or in a carrier or on my lap.  If we went anywhere, you clung to me.

You’ve always loved your daddy (Dad-do, as you call him), but in the past few months you’ve acquired quite an affinity for doing whatever he is doing. As soon as you hear the garage door open you pop your head up and say, “OH! DAD-DO!” Then when you hear the door open you jump off my lap or spring from the floor and haul buns to the gate at the top of the stairs yelling, “DAD-DO! HI!” You want him to hold you, read to you, tickle you.

I love watching that.

Charlie 22 months

You’ve starting clearly saying Eddie’s name to: AH-DEE.

When you see his picture you say his name. When he walks in the room, you point and announce him. He is very independent, but you are more cautious about new places. When Eddie sees that you are are upset in a new place (like nursery at church), he so kindly calls you over to play so your dad and I can slip out. He takes care of you and wants to make sure you are Ok.

Because he has started playing with you, you have become slightly obsessed with being able to do every single thing AH-DEE does. If he gets juice, you want juice. If he gets a twizzler, you need one too.  If he is coloring, you climb up on a kitchen chair to do it too.  Usually Eddie is very patient with you, but sometimes–like when you try to actually sit ON him by the kitchen table–he loses his cool and calls me in for reinforcements.

Those are the times you get mad, Bird.

Charlie 22 months

Recently we were up north with the majority of the Sluiter Family and everyone commented on how you were SO GOOD. How you NEVER fussed.  Your dad and I just laughed because you totally “fuss”. In fact, you throw balls to the wall tantrums.

When we have to tell you “no”, that is unacceptable to you. You scream. You cry. Your legs stop working and you refuse to be anything but toddler dead weight on the floor.

If we try to pick you up, you arch backward or hit or scratch or pull hair.

You are a bit more of a beast than a Bird as of late.

But only when you don’t get your way.  The rest of the time you are happy and chipper and so SO funny.

Charlie 22 months

You are quite the chatterbox, but only when you are comfortable with your surroundings. At home you talk non-stop. My favorite thing is after we put you down to nap or to bed for the night because you will chatter on in there with your stuffies for up to thirty minutes! I can hear you doing the “woof woof” sound for your puppy and “meow” sound for your kitty and tons of other “talking” sounds. Eventually you talk yourself out and fall asleep.

Your vocabulary expands by the day. Just today you asked me to read you the “Elmo” book. You said “Ah-MOE, MAMA”, so we read it. You pointed out Abbie and looked at me while I said it. Then you went through the book again and you kept pointing her out for me to say. Finally at the end, you pointed out “AH-MOE” and then you pointed and said, “AH-BAY BEE”.

Then you pursed your lips in that little smirk that tells me you are pretty darn proud of yourself.

Your hand-eye coordination/fine motor skills are almost ridiculous for a kid your age. Today daddy watched as you put each shape into your shape-sorter correctly with no help. You don’t jam and cram, you carefully twist each piece in the hole you know it goes in. You do this with puzzle pieces and Duplos too.   I watched you pick up a crayon the other day at the doctor’s office to color while we waited for our turn. You picked it up and held it correctly. I just watched.

Charlie 22 months

Books are your newest and favorite thing. I think we have read Hippos Go Berzerk over a thousand times…just today. I love this new love of yours, but seriously, let’s expand to some other stories. We have a whole PILE of board books.

I do that a lot with you, Charlie. I just watch you play. I watch you go about what seems to be your “work”. You can be so serious about it all, but you love to play. You love to explore. You love to figure out how things work.

Your favorite things are Duplos, BIG trucks, stuffies and blankies, and anything Eddie is doing. You love to run and laugh, and one of my favorite things is your deep, belly laugh. I also love how much you love to run around the house without a stitch of clothing on. I can tell you feel free and I know I have to throw a diaper on you because you WILL pee on the carpet, but you just love to RUN! Your blond curls fly behind you as you book it through the entire upstairs just laughing until tears stream down your face.

I hope you always have a love for Eddie and your Dad-do and your MAMA.  I hope you always have a belly full of chuckles.

Charlie 22 months

It’s hard to watch you go from baby to little boy. My arms ache for that tiny birdie you once were. My nose remembers your baby smell.  My heart hurts when I think about cutting your hair in a couple months (because that is the deal I have with daddy. I get baby hair for two years. Then snip snip).

Charlie 22 months

Two more months of “baby”.

I will take that two months and I will snuggle it up.

A Date

A couple weeks before Christmas, Eddie and I had a shopping/lunch date.

He had been asking about choosing gifts for his daddy and brother, and had really wanted to get lunch in a restaurant, so I suggested a mommy/son outing. He was thrilled about the idea.

I have to admit, I was a little excited to get out of the house with a little buddy by my side to, yet I tried to be realistic about how much we could accomplish before he got sick of it all.

We decided to do our shopping first.

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We decided to look for something for Cort first, so I asked Eddie what he thought his daddy would like. That is when Eddie started talking and never really stopped.

He had no idea what to get for Cortney. He held everything in the Men’s department at Target. Hats and jammie pants and t-shirts and Christmas undies and superhero undies–complete with a cape. He just couldn’t decide.

“Mommy, whatever you like we can get for daddy.”

“Eddie, this is your gift to daddy. You get to choose.”

“Hmm. Maybe this Mutant Turtles shirt? I really really like this shirt, Mommy.”

“Um. Well. I mean, you like the shirt, but I’m not sure it’s daddy’s style.”

And we went on like that for a bit until Eddie saw a brown shirt with a bear on it, decided it was hilarious (it wasn’t), and that daddy needed it. So that was it.

Until we moved on to picking something out for his brother. Oh my goodness. He looked at every. single. item in the toy section of Target. It was so hard to think about his brother when there was just so much he  wanted.

Eventually Eddie found a Vtech airport that was about $10 over our spending limit. He wanted Bird to have it so badly that he grabbed my hand and said, “but mommy, I have so many tracks and cars and Birdy has NONE. Can we PLEASE get this for him? He will LOVE it!” Then he kissed my hand.

Call me a softy, but into the cart it went.

Then it was time for lunch.

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We went to Russ’, a local favorite that is very diner-ish.

This was the first time Eddie and I had ever gone to lunch just the two of us. Up until then, he always had someone sitting next to him in a booth; this time he had the whole side to himself and he LOVED it.

“Mommy, what should we talk about?  How about the weather or those cars out there?”

Our booth was right next to the window so we could see the swirling snow and the rushing traffic. Eddie had a comment for everything and discussed coloring and school and superheroes all while deciding what to have for lunch.

He eventually chose the hot dog with fries and a peach and ordered it all by himself.

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With his crazy hat hair and ketchupy smile, he told me about school and friends and his teachers and playing at daycare. He told me about his favorite things and what scares him when it’s dark in his room. He asked me for the millionth time about heaven and gave me his philosophy on how our family needs a baby sister.

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And we even ordered dessert–peppermint pie–because that is what you do when you are out with mommy by yourself for lunch.

The waitress was impressed with his manners and his friendliness.  I was impressed with how much he has grown up.

He’s four and a half.

I blinked at how quickly four and a half years flew by and left this opinionated, chatty boy across a booth table from me. Where once there was a colicky baby, there was now a goofy little boy.

There was a time when I refused to leave the house alone with Eddie. I just couldn’t do it. I was too afraid…too anxious…too weak. I resented him and his colic and his refusal to nap and just be a “good baby”.

That seems like a lifetime ago.

But it was just four and a half years.

Everyone was right…it didn’t last.

Sometimes I miss it.  Not the colic. Not the anxiety about the colic. Not the depression.  But all that time.

All that time when I could have made different choices, responded differently.

But then I shake my head and look in front of me at the huge smile of a little four and a half year old boy. One who looked at me no fewer than a dozen times during our shopping/lunch trip and said spontaneously, “I love you mommy.”

On our way out of the restaurants, an older gentleman stopped Eddie and said, “Hey there, young man. Did you take your mom out for lunch today?”

Eddie proudly answered, “Yup! I even got her dessert!”

I can’t help but smile when I am with him.

He makes my world so happy.

I think we have a new tradition.

a paradox

Bonbon Break


“Fair is foul and foul is fair”

“What does that mean?” I ask my seniors. They want to be interested, but it’s hard with Shakespeare. At least in the beginning until you get used to the language.

“Um…good is bad and bad is good?” Asks a precocious boy in the back of the room.

“Yes…but what does that mean?” I prod.

Blank stares. Uncomfortable silence. I lean into that discomfort and wait.

“Well, maybe you can’t tell the difference between the good and the bad. Maybe it’s all confused and happening all at once,” a brave student offers.

“Ok. Yes. Anyone know what that’s called? When something contradicts itself but still appears to be true?”

“A paradox!” several students yell out.

We start to talk about other examples and my mind wanders through my own days.

The sloppy wet kisses and tumbly hugs my boys give me when I leave for work each morning, and the fits they throw when I pick them up from daycare.

The soft way Charlie lays his head against my chest, and the violent way he flings himself down in anger over…well, who knows what.

Eddie asking me if I need a kiss when I bump my head on his bunk bed, and the way he breaks down in loud sobs when I won’t let him have candy right before bed.

The kisses Eddie blows me from the front of church when he spots me in the crowd, and the epic meltdown over putting on socks.

Charlie’s sweet little voice saying, “tink too!” (thank you), and his powerful screams.

The way both boys still sit on their bottoms with their knees bent and piggy toes sticking out behind them, and they way they are constantly bickering over toys.

How Eddie willingly and selflessly gives Charlie his last piece of candy, and the way he trips Charlie when they are playing “chase”.

The sweet smell of a clean-haired boy, and the stink of poopy diapers.

The reflection of my own hilarious sense of humor in Eddie’s giggle, and my own over-reaction in his tantrums.

Charlie’s fierce determination, and his stubbornness.

Watching Eddie figure out technology with the same ease his dad does, and having to pull him away from screens.

The way Charlie can take things apart and put them back together, and the way he just takes things apart and leaves them that way.

Chubby little hands learning their world, and little hands that hit.

The millions of books that the boys carry over to read, and they way they stall bedtime.

One minute I find myself cuddling two boys in a chair, and the next minute both of those boys are fighting and kneeing me in the stomach and I feel completely “touched out”.

When I watch the boys together playing so nice or being so loving, tears spring to my eyes. Tears of joy and gratitude. But in a second that loveliness can go to hell and my tears turn into to those of frustration and anxiety.

My heart can be so full, and so broken at the same time by these little people.

I can’t imagine life without them, yet I find myself wondering how I can get a break.

I feel guilt and love and pride and anger and hope and hopelessness and gratitude and sadness and comfort all at the same time.

Being a mom is both fulfilling and frustrating in ways that I have never experienced before.

It is both “fair” and “foul”.

As cliche as it sounds, the “fair” is why we do this thing called motherhood. It is. As many blog posts where I lament about how hard this all is (and it is!), there are small moments of lovely that are big enough to swallow all the difficult times.

Motherhood is a paradox for sure; however, all the headaches and heartbreak these boys bring me are worth it with just one snuggle and kiss.

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bye, bye baby

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I remember this time…around 20 months…when suddenly baby legs are long and their walk not so much a toddle of a drunken sailor anymore.

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I remember looking at Eddie one day wondering where the baby went–the tiny wailing mush-pile in my arms.

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Tiny babies are suddenly everywhere and I look around our house and realize that none of them live here anymore.

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Oh the busyness is still there.  It is not stop running and jabbering and crying and quarreling and eating and playing in our house, but these are the sounds of little boys, not babies.

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Gone are the days of complete helplessness. There is a helper around every corner now–sometimes willing, other times not. Voices can now tell me “yes” and “no”.

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Everyone in this house can take direction…even if he acts like he can’t sometimes.

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There are no more baby sounds or smells. No bottles lining the counter or baby food piled in the pantry. Instead there are sippy cups of sour milk hiding behind chairs and messes that Nobody made.

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There are tantrums and fits and “NO!” and “MINE!” yelled through the house so loudly I wonder if the windows will break.

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But if I am quiet and still, I can still sometimes smell that infant scent lingering on your skin and in your hair. And I can still hear little gurgles and coos coming from your crib where you still find comfort and sleep.

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Your skin is still soft and squishy even if it’s stretched out over a little boy and not all wrinkled up on a baby.

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And when it’s silent and dark in the house, you would still rather lie close to me, matching your breathing to mine, while I hold your hand and run my fingers through your soft hair.

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I know though that the baby is on his way out, and the little boy is on his way in. I’m not a stranger to this stage. But I won’t let the baby go without giving it a bit of a fight.

I’ll hold on to those curls and that softness as long as you will let me, Charlie Bird.

Happy Twenty Months, my lovie.

~Momma

 

 

 

 

My Halloweenies

Halloween is not my favorite holiday.

Cortney and I never got into dressing up or going to any parties (not that we were invited).

When I was a kid, we weren’t deprived of Halloween or anything, but it wasn’t a big deal.

We had homemade costumes and we went trick or treating in our cousin’s neighborhood since we didn’t really have a neighborhood.

No one came trick or treating to our house either.

When they can’t see the house from the road because of woods, most kids won’t walk up that driveway.

So when Cort and I moved to a subdivision, I was all excited about the trick or treaters…until we had the million kids come the first year and we had to get a loan for the payments on all that candy.

Any excitement I have ever had for Halloween died after that first year in our house.

But we have kids now.  And while Charlie probably wouldn’t care one way or another, Eddie certainly does. We were not going to bee scrooge mcscrooge pants just because we  don’t like the “holiday,” so we sucked it up and brought the fun.

Hunting for the perfect pumpkins

Cort explains size and shape for perfect carve-ability.

Cort explains size and shape for perfect carve-ability.

 

No, this is not his costume. That is his legit stocking hat.

No, this is not his costume. That is his legit stocking hat.

Time to carve. Cort explains the process to Eddie.

Time to carve. Cort explains the process to Eddie.

 

While he was interested, he was still too grossed out to touch the guts. He told me "maybe when I'm five." Yeah. Maybe.

While he was interested, he was still too grossed out to touch the guts. He told me “maybe when I’m five.” Yeah. Maybe.

The finished products. Cort carved Eddies (left), and I carved Charlie's (right).

The finished products. Cort carved Eddies (left), and I carved Charlie’s (right).

 

Eddie chose to be the Flash this year while Charlie was a dinosaur by default (it's what we had already)

Eddie chose to be the Flash this year while Charlie was a dinosaur by default (it’s what we had already)

Neither trusted the other when it came to candy.

Neither trusted the other when it came to candy.

 

Regardless of the candy, Halloween is not really Charlie's favorite either. But Eddie LOVED it.

Regardless of the candy, Halloween is not really Charlie’s favorite either. But Eddie LOVED it.

Eddie had the biggest blast ever.

He got to go to the Pumpkin Patch with school and then with us. He got to choose his own costume (because $20 for a Flash costume is less than I would spend to try to make a Flash costume). He got a boat-load of candy. And he got to have a party at school.  Although this conversation happened:

Me: Eddie! How was your Pumpkin Party at school today??

Eddie: Fine.

Me: That’s it? Wasn’t it so fun?

Eddie: Yeah, but it wasn’t a REAL party.

Me: Wait. What? Why not?

Eddie: There was no dancing. Parties have dancing, mom.

Well. Ok then. Kid knows what he likes in a party.

And he will probably be eating Halloween candy until…Christmas–when I through it out just to replace it with all the new candy he will get.

Halloween is still not my favorite, but I do like seeing my boys have a good time.

throwing tantrums

Eddie has never been a tantrum-thrower.

When he was a toddler, if we told him “no”, he would listen, but he would cry.  If he was sent to timeout, he would stay there and mournfully cry.  He didn’t thrash about or throw himself to the ground.

We went through a phase where he would grunt out of frustration because he didn’t have any words. And even when he did, we had to work to break that habit.

We thought these defiant grunts and the loud crying from his room were what people meant when they referred to kids having tantrums.

And then we had Charlie.

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Oh he tricked us with his calm, laid back demeanor for the first year or so of his life–always so laid back, just taking things in. Always being all happy and content unless he was tired or hungry.

He was always so easy to please: give him lunch or put him to bed.

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He is one of the happiest kids…until he is not.  He has one weakness: The word “no”.

Oh you guys. This child has a FIERCE temper of which I have not seen before.

I don’t remember when Eddie started saying “no”, but I can tell you it was one of Charlie’s very first real words. He furrows his brown and wags his finger at us when he is displeased and firmly says, “no NO!”

He will also tell things he is not supposed to touch (lamps, the TV, lamps) “no, NO!” as if it’s their fault he gets in trouble for touching them.

If we tell him to do something he doesn’t want to do ( “come here,” for example), he will firmly say, “NO!”  If we try to take away the remote, the ice cream scooper, or a pair of scissors (home sluice is a stealthy drawer-raiding ninja) he throws himself to the ground and screams at the top of his lungs and writhes about.

If we won’t let him run amok in the bathroom simply because his brother forgot to close the door behind him, we have to drag him from the premises while he flails and wails. It’s good that we don’t have close neighbors on most sides because I’m sure it sounds like we are stabbing baby seals every time Charlie is displeased with the rules being enforced.

Tonight Cortney had to remove a mischievous Charlie from the bathroom so Eddie could take a bath. When Cort picked him up, Charlie arched his back and screamed. Cort had to set him down in the hall way on his back where he continued to scream cry for another couple minutes while we all ignored him.

Then he spotted a toy and was fine.

In fact, I think he stood up and sort of pranced to the toy and then did this little football huddle-like dance while giggling like a fool.

That is how The Bird rolls.

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I’ll be honest, the first time Charlie threw a tantrum I just stood there staring.  And then started to laugh because WHAT WAS HAPPENING?  My sweet, chill boy turned into something that seemed demon-possessed. It was ridiculous.

That is when it hit me: this is what a tantrum looks like.

So I did what I could, I walked away from him.

There is no reasoning with a 19-month old anyway, especially one mid-temper-tantrum.

Plus watching him only exacerbates things because he tantrums harder because he wants you to stop looking at him.  No one said toddlers were super bright.

Honestly the tantrums are not a problem. Yet.  They are how Charlie is starting to show frustration and that is healthy, but it’s just another reminder to me how different children are.

But they have one thing in common: they know how to push each other’s buttons. Charlie knows exactly what will make Eddie yell, and Eddie knows how to launch Charlie into an epic tantrum (hint: tell him “no” or take something away from him. Then take cover.).

2013-10-23 19.21.38

Charlie working REALLY hard to get Eddie to freak out. It worked. About 30 seconds after I took this, Eddie had a meltdown about Bird being in his space.

As much as the yelling and screaming and seeing who can make my ears bleed faster can drive me batty some most days, it’s so fun to watch these two grow up together.  It’s REALLY fun to see Charlie’s personality take off now that he is learning to express himself.

Even if that expressing happens to be in a tantrum of epic proportions.

 

Second Child

Dear Charlie,

I want to apologize.

I swore I wouldn’t fall into “second child-itis” with you and I have fallen. Hard. There are so many ways I feel like I am “failing” you.

With Eddie, I scrap booked the day lights out of his first year. I kept track and wrote down everything. I recorded first words and monthly milestones and growth patterns.  I printed pictures each month and clipped them together to make sure I would include them in his book.  I wrote letters to him on the 23rd of each month with all my notes on hand to reference and put into words.

I have not been this vigilant with your milestones.

Daddy tells me that I have been keeping it here on the blog…but when I do a search of all my posts for you, they are mostly letters–heavy on sentiment and feelings and light on the facts of your growth.

Part of me is sad about this.

second child

I mean, I had been so good about it with Eddie. But with Eddie I was sick. I had trouble being close to him without getting upset. He much preferred to be with Daddy than with me.  I clung to those stats.  They proved I was doing my job as his mom. He was growing and thriving and he was happy.

I think about writing things down about you a million times a day.

Just yesterday you said, “Ma Ma Ma! Juuuuuuu!!!” as you stood by the refrigerator. I told you to say please and you smiled that HUGE smile of yours with all your teeth and your squinty little eyes and cooed, “eeeeeeessss!”

I melted all over the floor.  You’re not even 18 months old yet.

second child

By comparison your brother didn’t say any real words until well after he turned two. And even then he wasn’t stringing 2-3 words together for a thought or request. He didn’t say “ma ma” until he was a full year older than you are.

It’s not a bad thing. You know Eddie, he says all the things now and he is so smart and articulate. It’s hard to really imagine him not having words.  I wrote down little notes each time he said a new word.

I have not written down any of your words, Birdie.  They just come too fast!  I think maybe the first word was “no”, but I could be wrong. Off the top of my head the words you have are:

  • ma ma
  • da
  • di di (Eddie) –which you don’t say very often. You just know who “Eddie” or “brother” is.
  • woe
  • yo (and also yo, yo! when Daddy comes home.  So silly!)
  • NO!
  • Juuuuu!  (juice, water)
  • mik (milk)
  • num num (for food)
  • ni ni (for goodnight)
  • bye bye
  • aw gu (all gone)
  • hi!
  • shoooooos (shoes)
  • bop (pipe, your pacifier)
  • boom (you repeat this after us, but you also use this for the word “poop”)
  • Ow
  • Di (diaper)
  • eeeeeeeesss! (please)
  • nus (nose)
  • tus (toes)

And I am sure there are more. You study what we say and try to repeat it. It’s so fun that even Eddie tries to teach you words.

second child

You are quite good at knowing all the parts of the face including some body parts like fingers, toes, feet, buns, tummy, and of course penis. Because boys are weird.

You are over 25 pounds and wearing size 5 diapers.

Size 18 months is a hit or miss fit for you. Most shirts don’t quite cover your big buddah belly, but the shorts are the right length.

You want to do everything Eddie does. EVERYTHING. If he is playing on a tablet or a computer or a video game, you think you can do it too.

second child

You are a climber. I’m positive some of my new gray hairs are because you can climb on anything you decide to climb. It’s also freaking Renae out at daycare this fall. She tells us with panic what the newest thing you have climbed is. Daddy and I just nod knowingly.  Yup. That’s Bird.

This summer you crawled up three concrete steps at the cottage and proceeded to fall down them and land on the concrete slab…on your head. You didn’t cry. You just stood up, rubbed your head (where there was a big scratch and a goose egg) and say, “woe.”  Then you walked away.

Your uncles are still talking about how you are indestructible.

second child

I knew you would be fine and I didn’t rush to you.  With Eddie, I would have cried and rocked you and fretted over a concussion.

With you, I gave you a pat on the buns and told you, “good hustle, Bird.”

Am I failing you?

I don’t think we are, but sometimes I question whether we are being fair.

You put yourself to sleep every nap and every night. Sometimes you cry. We let you.

We never let Eddie cry. Never. We spent HOURS rocking him and sleeping on the couch with him. Never did he cry himself to sleepy.

You normally just fall asleep, but when you don’t, we let you cry. It only lasts 15 minutes at the most. Then you are out.

Is this wrong?

Is it because you are the second child?

I think so. In part.

second child

But I also think it’s because you’re not Eddie.

You’re Charlie.

You are a different child.

Yes, you are our second boy. Yes, you are another Sluiter. Yes, you both have blue eyes, blond hair with curls, and a wicked cute smile and dimple.

But you are not the same child, so we are not parenting you as the same child.

You are fiercely naughty in a way Eddie never was. You ignore the word “no” unless you are using it against us. You laugh as you do something you know you’re not supposed to. Did I mention you climb all the things? Even our high top dinner table? You are rarely unhappy unless you are hungry or tired. Then your tantrums are fierce…FIERCE, I say. But quick. As soon as you have a snack or a nap you are back to silly Bird.

second child

And your cuddles. Oh you’re my cuddly momma’s boy. So different than the first time around with Eddie who was incredibly attached to Daddy.

I’ve been a bum about writing things down, yes. I’ll try to get better. I want you to have as rich of a pile of my memories as Eddie does. I want you to know about yourself in a time that you will not remember. I want you to have that.

You are my second child, but you are not second place.  You are not less than First.

You are different.

You are my Charlie T Bird.

And I love you with all of my heart and soul.

Love, Ma Ma

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