This has been quite a month for us. Quite a month. The introduction of a new baby into the family acted as a catalyst for your sudden burst into what some might term "The Terrible Twos," others might more optimistically call "The Terrific Twos," and which I think I will simply refer to as "Hell." Our family expansion has been a rough transition for the both of us: in bringing home a new baby I lost my first one, only to have him be replaced by a jumbo-sized two-year-old with a bad attitude and a lusty appetite for attention. I had always thought you were a gifted tantrum thrower, but during the first week or two that we had Liam at home you were able to aptly demonstrate that I had hithertofore known very little about tantrums. After you stopped throwing tantrums you became clingy, finding yourself incapable of playing independently and begging for "help" every time you got out your blocks. I cried every night for a week, heartbroken because this change in our lives had affected you so much and so negatively.
You put on my white tank top one morning like it was a dress. I thought you looked smashing. It was difficult to take a picture, though, because you kept grabbing at the camera, asking to see pictures of "Soneen."
I think you really do love the little guy, though. When he cries, you become concerned and say, "Baby sad. Baby sad." You often help me change Liam's "boppers." And you give him lots of hugs and kisses. You also periodically give him hurts, but I suspect that has less to do with your feelings towards him and more to do with you desire to incite a lively reaction from Mom or Dad.
You went through a brief tie phase earlier this month. You wanted to wear a tie with everything. I love the way your hair looks in these pictures. So characteristically disheveled.
You have also learned two of the three major toddler words/phrases this month: "no" and "I do it." (The third is "mine," which I suspect you will begin to feverishly grasp when Liam gets old enough to get into your toys.) The answer to every question is "no" and you are allergic to the word "yes." We frequently have conversations that go like this:
Mom: Soren, would you like a banana?
Soren: Nana! Nana! Nana!
Mom: Oh. Did you want a banana?
Soren: (Crying and getting upset.) Nana! Nana! Nana!
Stranger: Do you like your new little brother?
Stranger: Are you your mommy's big helper?
Mom: Soren, are you the sweetest little boy in all the world?
You will occasionally empty your dresser drawers and attempt to don as many of your clothing at once as is possible. I view this as good self-dressing practice.
One Sunday afternoon your father spent a considerable amount of time attempting to get you to use the word "yes."
Dad: Soren, do you want a cookie?
Dad: Uh huh. Do you want it?
Dad: Do you want to eat a cookie?
Dad: Is that a cookie?
(The closest we can ever get from you for an affirmative reply is "Uhkay.")
"Do it" is a result of your transition into Erikson's "Autonomy vs Self-doubt" phase of development. You've been making a wild grab at power, which means that we have daily battles about diaper changes, getting dressed, getting undressed, going places, leaving places, taking baths, going to bed, etc, etc. I've found that a good conflict-free way to get you to do things is to ask, "Do you want to pick out your outfit for today/throw away your diaper/get in your carseat/brush your teeth or do you want Mommy to do it?" You'll then pipe up with "Do it!" and (often) run off to perform the task. Earlier this month I was reorganizing the pantry in such a way that would allow me to allow you unsupervised access to it. You saw what I was doing and pitched right in: picking up gallon-sized containers of water and walking several feet with them to put them where they belonged, on the floor in a corner. You then proceeded to put away every single canned item on the bottom shelf. You enjoyed this so much I had to take some cans out so you could put them away again. You're even into punishing yourself: one day you bit Grandma, ran away to your bedroom, and came out in a few minutes, saying, "Don't bite!"
You're very gifted with the legos. This creation was made with a few blocks from a very very old lego-imitation set that I played with as a kid. We keep meaning to buy you a nice set of duplos. Maybe for your half-birthday this summer.
Another new development in your world has been your introduction to a toddler bed. This was a shockingly smooth transition. I took you to WalMart one afternoon-- just Mommy and Soren--and let you pick out your own bedding for your new bed. It came down to a choice between a Sponge Bob Square Pants comforter set and an Elmo comforter set. You would hold the Sponge Bob package in your hand and contemplate out loud: "Bob? Bob? Bob?," then hand it to me and pick up the other one, pondering: "Elmo? Elmo? Elmo?" You ultimately decided on Elmo and held it close to you all the way home. You spent that night in your Elmo bed and haven't spent a night away since. (The baby still sleeps in his Moses Basket in Mom and Dad's room, but we wanted to get you accustomed to sleeping in a Big Boy Bed before he took over the crib.)
We came in to wake you up after a nap one afternoon and here you were, sound asleep with your eyes wide open.
One of your life's greatest joys is spending time with your older cousins, the Smith kids. Nothing makes you happier than waking up in the morning and hearing, "Guess what Soren? We get to go to Tessa's house today!" You run around getting ready, repeating, "Tessa's? Tessa's? Tessa's?" It's fun to watch you play with the big kids, who treat you like a little prince. Right now, for example, I'm sitting on the Smith's computer while you play outside. Little Marty (whom you call "Mommer"), 8, and Calysta ("Kista"), 10, helped you put on your coat, shoes, hat, and mittens. They're pushing you in the swing and you're laughing and laughing. When we arrived here this morning, Tessa, 6, was ready and waiting for you. The two of you immediately started racing around the front room, spinning circles and giggling. When we see other older children in public places you approach them as though you expect the same adulation you're used to receiving from your cousins. I'm very gratfeul for their kindness and generosity with you. They're good kids.
You and I also spend a goodly amount of time on YouTube every day, watching children's music videos. I limit this activity to five or so songs a day (for my own sanity's sake, in all honesty) but you spend a lot of time begging for more. The children's music section on YouTube seems to have been colonized by Great Britain, so I spend a lot of time afterwards singing things like, "If yo' 'appy and you know it, clap yo-'ands!", "'ead, shouldas, knees an' toes-- knees an' toes!", and "The baby on th' bus goes 'Wah wah wah'...awwl day looong."
On the language development front, you've taken to using multiple word-phrases and even sentences recently, your favorite being "I want mommy!" One day you picked up the phone and said "Hi. Daddy? This is Soneen. Bye!" Sometimes when Liam coos you'll smile and say, "A coot sound."
But anyway, I feel like I should apologize for the way things have been this month. Before this big transition in our lives, I took pride in the fact that I had never yelled at you. Let's just say that I have been shorn of this pride. This month-- especially at the beginning-- I haven't been as kind and as patient as I should have and I'm sorry. I've spent some time kneeling by your bedside while you sleep at night, looking at your smooth sweet face and hoping that I can be the mom that you deserve, praying that God will compensate for my weaknesses.
I love you, sweetie. You are still my little sunshine.