If there is one thing that has held constant for Red since he first really became aware of his surroundings (and perhaps even before then, although it wouldn't do a whole lot of good to ask him), it has been his inexplicable fascination, bordering on obsession, with bugs. Well, technically not just bugs (order Hemiptera), but invertebrates of all kinds. Worms, butterflies, millipedes, you name it.
With d.w. writing a children's guide to stream ecology for her master's degree and my getting a PhD in ecology, I suppose it was somewhat inevitable that some of that would rub off on our little one. But it's not like we have pushed it on him or anything; what's weird is that neither d.w. nor I are especially into bugs to begin with.
We have tried to stay sort of hands-off as he develops his own interests, and haven't tried to push anything on him (well, as much as two parents can do that). All we've done is make lots of different types of things available to him, and encouraging those things he shows the most interest in.
The one thing we do feel passionately about, however, is making sure Red isn't irrationally afraid of any animals, especially creepy crawly ones. This has not necessarily been easy for me. After it rains, Red likes to go outside and play with earthworms, which I must admit still give me the willies when they wriggle around in my hand. Red, on the other hand, is completely fine with them because he has never known any other way to be. They aren't gross because no one has made them that way for him.
I must say, my work has really helped me get over my aversion to having little things crawling around on my body. Between the ticks, the mosquitoes, and the flies, I barely notice that anymore. Red, on the other hand, has never had an issues with things crawling around on him. His first reaction, in fact, to seeing a new insect is to put it on his arm and watch it crawl around.
Red has taught me so much since he was born. Because of him I'm pretty sure what makes us human, I think I've figured out the meaning of life, and I no longer jump into the air and scream like a girl when I feel something crawling across my skin. I'm such a proud papa.
I can't tell you how many times recently I've heard Red yell from the other room, "Nooooooo! Beeeeeeeeea!" when our dog, Bea, wasn't anywhere near him. You see, the recent explosion in his vocabulary has been accompanied by his realization that language can be used to great effect to lie, mislead, or otherwise shade the truth about the various exploits of a two-year-old.
Red has thus taken to blaming everything on Bea, especially when he gets embarrassed at his clumsiness getting the better of him. We parents play into this, of course, because Bea does regularly bowl him over, step on him, sit on him, or pin him to the sofa while licking his face. So we have to check it out whenever our child is in distress, whether legitimate or feigned.
But I hardly mind being manipulated by a toddler now and then. It is just so damn cute. Like when Red throws tantrums over absolutely nothing, like, say, not being able to see the moon because it's cloudy. Something as minor as that will produce an inconsolable child, head back, eyes closed, wailing as though he'd just had a limb removed.
What can I say? Hilarious.
We try not to laugh too hard when he gets really mad at something, either, because he is just so SERIOUS about it. But again, hilarious. I mean, you have to laugh when your son is livid at his pasta for not behaving in a sufficiently noodly manner.
Red has always been an unusually serious kid. For example, here he is playing with a stuffed leopard at three months:
And here he is at his birthday party last weekend:
Still pretty serious. It's not that he isn't having fun, it's just that this is a kid who has always taken himself exceptionally seriously at all times.
Now that he has also developed something of a usable vocabulary and a toddler's desire for total self-sufficiency, any efforts to help him do anything are met with a forceful "No! Baby!"
Getting into the car? "No! Baby!"
Sticking the bubble wand back in the bottle? "No! Baby!"
Setting a match to firewood? "No! Baby!"
It's fun seeing one's child turn into a real person, with all of personhood's accompanying idiosyncrasies, neuroses, and tics. It is especially enjoyable when the so-called "terrible twos" are such a constant source of parental amusement.
I mean, you can't really get mad about this stuff, so you might as well laugh. And boy, does he hate it when we do that...
A few days late on the "real" birthday post here, but that's the way it goes. A year ago I offered up a little pictorial journey from birth to year 1. In the spirit of continuity, let us continue along that path...
2 years old!
Perhaps not the mind-blowing change from 0 - 1, but I'm thankful for that. Red's now nicely average-sized, although his melon is as giant as ever. We couldn't have things too out of the ordinary, after all.
I haven't quite figured out what to do with this here weblog, now that I spend way more time interacting with Red than I used to (having been limited by his littlitude to gazing upon him and blogging about it like the proud papa I am).
So I've decided just to write about various other things I'm thinking about, readership be damned. That's not to say I won't wax interminably about Red -- I am a dad, after all. I just won't limit myself so much.
That said, allow me to wax somewhat terminably about Red.
He turned two the other day. This was obviously kind of a big thing around chez zygote, although I've been saying he's "2 in November"for about six months when asked his age. "Twenty months" just sounds weird, like saying it's 4:47 when you could just say "quarter 'til".
Anyway, a big thing because he's figured out what a birthday means: presents. He was a little confused (though obviously delighted) by the first couple of presents, but then all of a sudden the lightbulb went off. Red's eyes drew slowly upward to the magnificent pile of colored paper on top of the tv cabinet and a vigorous pointing ensued.
It's all downhill for us from here, I'm afraid. And to think Christmas is just around the corner.
So Red was feeling a little under the weather a couple of weeks back, and to distract him for a while we decided to make a trip to the local animal shelter. You know, to pet the dogs and cats for a bit.
Anyhow, the moral of the story? Don't go to the shelter as a recreational activity. You might end up with an adorable little lab mutt.
One minute, he's creating a masterpiece. The next, he's deconstructing the aural and visual subtleties of Richard Scarry. And then he's studying the behavior of (rubber) cockroaches. Aren't toddlers just awesome?
To me, anyway. Nothing against your kids, really. But check out these photos my father-in-law sent me, of a little stream ecologist in training. That's Red with a millipede in the last one -- I'm such a proud papa!