Well, here we are. I’ve been saying you’re two-and-a-half for months now, when really you’re closer to three. I realized it one night, when I leaned over you to help you get your legs in your jammie pants and realized they sat well above your ankles. Your 2T shirts are inching closer to your belly button everyday, as your long skinny body grows towards three. Three! How is that my baby is almost three?
There is just so much boy about you. We can’t even really say you’re a toddler because you race through our house. Need to go grab Monkey? You run from the living room to your bedroom, arms pumping. Time for a snack? You race from the kitchen to your booster seat, even though it’s just five feet away. There is no toddling anymore.
Let’s start with David and Goliath. We pretty much have to start there because you are a boy obsessed. All of our picture bibles open to this story, and you ask us to read it to you again and again. All day, you are asking us to play David and Goliaf with you; sometimes you play the part of David, others the giant, and when you do, you sometims put on your dad’s shoes and hat, and you stomp…Fee, Fi, Fo, Fum, I smell the blood of n Englishman, Who will fight me? I thought you were the children of God! Goliath and the giant from the beanstalk and the giant pickle from Veggie Tales are one in the same in your little mind. But then you are David, and you are flinging around the ladle from your play kitchen or the curtain tie backs, holding the play potato in hand as your “rock,” declaring that you are David and that God will help you. This is followed by some epic ’round and ’rounds, sound effects of the rock hitting the giant’s head, and then whichever role you are playing, you always make a whistling sound as you fall to the ground. More often than not, my response is: “I will play anything except David and Goliath with you,” which makes me sound like a terrible mother except that I do get my Israelite and Philistine on at least eight times a day to your utter delight.
Moving on. Your vocabulary is exploding these days, and we often comment on how articulate you are for a two year old. I think I often expect more from you because you communicate so well, which makes your tantrums all the more baffling to me. We grab on to your errors and laugh about them after you go to bed at night because there are just so few of them. Like when you called the mangoes in my yogurt flamingos or the icy sidewalk slutty instead of slushy or the mershicols on TV.
But overall, you speak so well. You know most of the letter names, though you still consistently call z zipper, and you’re slowly getting your number names down, though when counting, you still prefer to skip the number three. What amazes me most is how letter and number aware you are, telling me you saw numbers on the bus driving by, or pointing out letters on store signs that you know. Today, on the highway, you pointed to a Cub foods in the distance and said, “That’s our grocery store!” Your awareness amazes me all of the time.
And jokes, Owen, you’re starting to make jokes, and it might be one of my favorite things about you. You’ll tell us something funny, and kind of wrinkle your nose, and say yeah a lot, sort of shrugging your shoulders. You know you’re telling a joke, and you are eager for shared laughs. Just today, I think you told your first pun. I was singing “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow” from Winnie the Pooh, and you said, “Whas a jolly good fellow? Like jelly? For he’s a jolly goofellow, for he’s a jellyontoast!” And then you cracked yourself – and me – up. Our lunch conversations are so much more interesting these days, espeically when you bust into the song you made up: Mee, My, Moe, Mee, Mee, My, Moe, Mee – over and over again as you play pretend drums in front of you, pounding your forearms up and down in rhythm with your song. You love it when we all sing along (and it’s one of Elsa’s favorite activities too).
Next to that comedian and musician, there’s a budding little artist in you. You love to use markers and especially to fingerpaint. You went through a stage where you would use your Elmo loofah (thanks, Grandma Pam!) to “paint” on the bathtub walls, telling us you were like Olivia when she paints on the walls, like Jackson Pollack. You’re just starting to draw people, who are primarily lines, sometimes with a kind of circular head on top. When we ask you what you want to be when you grow up, you tell us you want to be like dad and go to work to draw with (whiteboard) markers. Aim high, little man.
Although it is the dead of winter, we are still forever playing baseball. Sometimes with soft squishy balls, but more often you want to play pretend. You pitch, I hit, and then you run the laps of our living room for your home run trot, asking me to make fireworks noises. You continue to be super into the baseball cards we got you for Christmas. You know many of them by name (Mike Holt!), and even some of their positions. You are crazy possessive of these cards, and though you try to share them with Elsa, the look in your eyes when she tries to put one in her mouth is one of both rage and concern.
We’ve had some mild days this winter, and we have taken a lot of slow walks around the blocks of our house, always stopping first by the bakery to greet the cow and calf as you ask for a sample, which we sometimes get. Then you race down to the “tunnel,” the awnings in front of the coffee shop, before moving on to that one house with all the rocks (you always pick up one), and then the fire hydrant. We sometimes head towards the park, where you slide around on the ice rink in your boots, and sometimes we head the other way, stopping at every fenced in lawn to feed the animals behind it – usually farm animals, but sometimes zoo animals! As we head home, you start slowing down, and soon you are walking 25 feet behind me, picking up every stick and making me kind of crazy. As we head towards our house, you ask if we can stop to see Bolt, the cat who lives in Ace Hardware, and we often do, heading to his perch by the popcorn machine, calling his name for all the store to hear. He’s wary but patient as you gently pet him, and you usually convince me to give you some popcorn as we walk past Flag Foods to our alley and backyard and up the steps before shedding all of the boots and hats and coats. These walks are slow and detailed and so very you.
Owen, you are so much fun most times. I especially love watching you play with your dad, building extensive block towers / cities, or wrestling on the couch or playing that one game where the couch is a boat and he tries to save you from falling off into the carpet water, dragging you back up again and again. I see him sit next to you and talk to you about the baseball cards, or show you basketball highlights (Is that Ricky Rubio? you ask). The two of you are such playful kindred otter spirits, and I love when you get to spend time together.
This is not to say you are not a typical toddler who would spend 110% of his time watching videos or playing on Dad’s ipad if we let you. You are partial to Daniel Tiger, Veggie Tales, Curious George, and Winnie the Pooh. You love to listen to the Bible stories app on the ipad, the same ones over and over, and then play the handful of games we’ve downloaded for you. But still, you are a book lover. We are reading a lot of Winnie the Pooh, Curious George, Olivia, Peter Rabbit, Richard Scary (lowly worm!), and your current favorite: The No David Books. Which I’d knew you’d love but wish that you didn’t love the nose-picking page quite so much – “Stop that this instant!”
You love people, Owen, and though you get kind of freaked out in large crowds, you are learning more and more to be kind to your friends – Milo! Archie! Estella! Eleanor! – and share your things. You give the best waves and hugs goodbye. You love your grandparents and aunts and uncles, and the smallest things can trigger your memory of them. Like in Curious George Goes to the Chocolate Factory, I am reading about the caramel chocolates, and you are sure to stop me – “Like Auntie Sara and her caramels?”…referring to that one time, five months ago, when you made caramel apples with your Aunt Sara. Your memory is a steel trap.
You are fun, Owen, but you are also two. And we have our moments. I said before, your tantrums catch me off guard because you can be so articulate, but then before I know it, you are sobbing, angrily wiping your tears off your face, yelling, “It’s dripping!” in an agonized voice. You are screaming no and grabbing the toys out of Elsa’s hands and telling us you don’t want to share your Dad with her. You have a regimented bedtime routine that allows for no flexibility: a story – usually about your Dad losing the frisbee or me going to Winnie the Pooh’s honey tree – then prayer (pray for THEAbelle, you always say) – then a couple rounds of I Have Decided to Follow Jesus, wtih some solid back rubbing. You are running away when I tell you it’s time to go potty and making giant messes and generally doing all of the toddler things. I take deep breaths. I try to remain calm. I give out consequences when they’ve been threatened. And then, you are quick to say sorry, always asking for a hug, desperate for that restoration.
Owen, I still see baby you, wiggling every muscle in your body in the boy you who loves to be outside, who runs laps in our small Minneapolis house. I remember tiny, angry you, whipping your head around for more milk, sighing contentedly while nursing in the passionate boy you who loves and hates, rejoices and rages all in the same moment. You’re showing us these little glimpses into who you are, and we lay in bed at night, and wonder Is he like me? Does he love order? when we talk about how you have a particular way to play a game or how you like your toys put back where they belong. We don’t know you fully yet, but we love you more than fully.
Things You Love: juice, milk, any and all desserts, most food, Monkey, Bear, your ‘druckin (construction) pillow, baths / splashing, Marbarry (David & Julia’s cat Mayberry), Bolt the Cat at the hardware store, bakery samples, going upstairs, jumping on beds, Gleason’s gym, reading, going to the library, videos, Daniel Tiger, Curious George, David & Goliath, Veggie Tales, snacks, your froggy galoshes, dad’s ipad, “Carlo” the doll, Archie, Estella, Milo, wrestling with your dad, playing outside, going for walks, sledding, your grandparents, your aunts and uncles, Christmas (so fun with you this year!), playing kitchen, building with lego blocks or foam blocks, making stacks of anything
Things You Hate: when Elsa knocks over your block towers or chews on your baseball cards, when we don’t let you wake up for the day at 5 a.m., when it’s really windy and cold, going potty in the midst of playing, you don’t love transitions or large groups of kids, crying, getting your toe nails clipped, getting your hair washed