Alex and the dead cat

So, we were going for a walk the other day, with Alex on his balance bike, and we chanced upon a recently dead cat on the sidewalk.

Death has been on Alex’s mind a lot lately. He will routinely say things like, “I don’t want Mommy to die!” or “Why do we have to die?” I remember the other kids going through a similar stage at the same age. But kids are so funny about death: they don’t have the same hang ups and baggage that us older folks do.

For example, as we were passing the cat, and Alex was pondering life, death and the mysteries of the universe, he said to me, “I’m going to drive over it with my bike!”

Me: “No, no, never touch something that is dead. It is yucky and has germs on it.”
Alex: “No, with my bike.”
Me: “Don’t touch an animal that is dead.”
Alex, perplexed: “No, with my bike. *I* won’t touch it, the germies will be on my tires.”
Me: “Alex, there are diseases. I don’t want them on your bike either; that bike has to go in my house.”

Now, this went around and around for a bit. He REALLY wanted to run over that dead cat with his bike! So finally Ollie stepped in. “Great,” I thought. “Maybe Ollie can talk to him kid-to-kid. Get him to understand why we shouldn’t drive over dead cats.”

Ollie: “Okay, so, imagine if Evelyn was dead and she was lying on the road. Would you drive over HER with your bike??”

That is…not how I would have approached the subject.

EXCEPT IT WORKED!

Alex thought about it for a bit and then said, “No, I wouldn’t. But…” I could tell he was still struggling with it a bit – he felt like he still had an argument to make – but he couldn’t escape that kid-to-kid logic. And anyway, by that time I had coaxed him down the street a bit, so riding over the cat wasn’t feasible anymore.

I warned Sara about this because I knew it was bound to come up again, so I wanted her to be prepared. (Oh, that and the fact that she was going to have to walk by that dead cat on the way to work.) So tonight, Sara decided to broach the subject and see if Alex had any more to say about it. You know, work through his complicated feelings on the subject? Maybe he had some feelings he needed to work out?

Sara, while stirring food in the crockpot: “I saw that dead cat…”
Alex: “Did you cook it?”

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Big Boy

I haven’t done one of these Alex updates in a long time, but it seems like there have been so many milestones lately that I’m definitely in need of one!

The most exciting thing is that Alex is now completely diaper free! He has always been really good about potty training and staying dry, so we thought we’d give the overnight thing a chance. Right away, the first night, he was dry! He has had a few wet nights, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he had a few more, but he’s got a 4 day streak going as of me writing this! (But unfortunately broke it before publishing this. Still!)

This corresponded with us upgrading his crib to a “big boy bed”, so all in all I think he’s just really feeling like a big boy lately.

Additionally, we have started reading chapter books at bedtime, and he really enjoys them. So far we have read, “My Father’s Dragon”, “The Dragons of Blueland”, “Little House in the Big Woods” (at least twice, because Sara and I both read it to him, possibly three times if Vania read it!), “The Boxcar Children”, and we are currently reading, “The Fantastic Mr. Fox”.

He has also been drawing and “writing” a lot. Sometimes I can even tell what he’s drawing! For example, I give you “a person”:

Finally, one thing we’ve really noticed lately is that Alex just wants to have friends. He plays SO NICELY with other kids now! And really has a blast. Because of this, he is fiiiiinally starting to warm to the idea of going to school. He has previously taken the adamant stance that he will NOT be attending school next year, but now that he’s starting to realize how much fun it is to go to a toy-filled room to play with a bunch of friends, he’s rethinking that.

Alex, in preschool. CAN YOU IMAGINE??

Being the younger brother

As an oldest child, I didn’t have older siblings to teach me things. Naturally, I set a sterling example for MY brother and sister, but obviously that is not always the case. Lately Alex has picked up things that…well, let’s just say it didn’t take much work to figure out where he’d learned it from.

For one thing, he has been running around with a toy sword, pointing it at people and saying, “pew pew!” Pretty sure he didn’t learn that from Sara and me. He also is prone to sobbing “No fair!” when he doesn’t get his way (okay, that one he *might* have gotten from me).

On the other hand, being the youngest might have advantages. Alex certainly was the easiest of our children to potty train, and I don’t know if that’s because of something about his personality, or if he just has a whole lot of examples to model himself after (and a whole lot of extra people to sit with him and read Little Critter and/or Clifford books over, and over, and over while he’s on the potty…)

It certainly could just be him personally. All of our kids are whip smart. It’s hard for me to remember precisely how smart they were at 20 months, and I remember being impressed by them, but Alex’s language and memory both seem to be well off the charts.

What if he’s the smartest of the three of them? I have to say…the prospect is a little frightening.

“Me do eet!”

Just like his brother and sister before him, Alex talks. A LOT.

At first it was an endless series of nouns, but now he’s gotten to a lot more abstract concepts. In particular, when I put him to bed at night I like to recap the day a little bit. It’s amazing how much he remembers! He often mentions things that happened in the last few days that I’ve forgotten about.

And then, of course, the commands. Alex is FULL of commands. Anything from which book to read (“Clifford book”), to what you should feed to him (“pizza”), to where *precisely* you should sit (“in the corner”). And if there’s any question about who should do something, there’s only one answer: “Me do eet.”

If there is something to be done, Alex wants to do it. Before you can even say what it is, he’s clamoring to be included. Running outside to take out the trash? “Me shoes!” Pouring a bowl of cereal? “Me do eet! By me-self!” Sara got a picture of him sobbing the other day because he didn’t get to go on a rollercoaster.

Other than talking, he is definitely getting to be a two year old. He just has that…gleam in his eye. If you tell him not to do something, he’s headed straight for it. This brings us to climbing, because there’s nothing that boy loves more than climbing things, the more precarious, the better.

Finally, one big new development is that Alex is using the potty. He can’t tell you that he needs to go, but if you plunk him down regularly he will usually go (as long as you are willing to sit and read books to him for 20 minutes). Sometimes he even gets to wear big boy underpants (“vroom-vroom underpants” because they have cars on them). Never in my life have I sent and received so many poop emojis.

So all in all, Alex is just becoming a real person. He uses the potty! He can actually hold a conversation! He sleeps through the night! It’s amazing how fast they grow up, isn’t it?

Alex’s First Camping Trip

We are generally a camping family, though we haven’t been camping since Alex was born. It’s hard enough to get a camping trip together without all of the accoutrements necessary to bring a baby (and hard enough to fit 5 people in our car without all the camping gear).

However, this first camping trip was about as perfect as could be. The weather more or less cooperated (our tent didn’t leak, and while it was pretty cold in the mornings, the flipside is that it wasn’t too hot in the afternoon), and we got in tons of fun activities! Paddleboats, kayaks, hiking…you name it.

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(I love how Ollie is kind of photo-bombing us in this pic)

Alex literally could not have had a better time. When we were putting him to bed on Saturday night he said between sobs, “More walking!” That dude was just go-go-go the entire weekend.

You might say he got a little tired out…

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Now that is how you parent

My favorite part is when I say, “Set the clock for dinos” and he looks at me, grins, and then *yanks* that minute hand around. Gotta go pretty far if you’re going to see dinos…

Explosive Learning

Closing in on two years old is one of the best ages for a baby. Everything he does is just amazing. He’s speaking more, understanding more, and can actually recall things from previous days. Every time he does, it just blows my mind all over again. He’s using 3 word sentences now. He’s learning new words and concepts every single day.

How is this tiny thing, who was completely unable to do anything whatsoever just a few short months ago, able to express thoughts and opinions?

In fact, lately he has started making deals. The other day we were trying to convince him to go to the farmer’s market, and he didn’t want to leave. Evelyn said, “Alex, if you go to the farmer’s market, I’ll give you my [pretend] phone to play with.” Alex thought about it for a minute, and then agreed. The second we got out to the car he said, “Phone!”

I know it’s a little thing, but there’s so much wrapped up in that! He can understand what we are offering him. He is able to conceptualize the fact that he wants the phone, and he has to do something to get it. He is able to weigh two different things he wants, getting the phone or staying home, and decide which he prefers. He is then able to communicate all of that to us, and then remember his decision later when we actually get in the car.

Amazing!!

Sara has been trying to get him to go on the potty. He has been kind of interested in it, but will only sit down for a second or two before standing up, that kind of thing. We’ve offered some rewards, like “Hey, if you go in the potty I will read you a book” or “I will do hip-hip-hooray” (which is like tossing him up in the air and catching him). Finally, Sara hit upon the correct reward: “If you put your pee pees in the potty, I will give you a spoonful of ice cream…”

He went immediately there, sat down, and squeezed some out. (And a good thing, too, since we don’t have our tried and true potty training method anymore)

The next day Sara said, “If you put your pees pees in the potty I will do hip-hip-hooray” and Alex looked at her slyly and said, “Ice cream.”

He drives a hard bargain, this one.