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Truman is two.
Truman rubs my tummy when he's trying to calm himself down. He buries his head in my shoulder wnen I hug him. He pats his brother on the arm when he wants to wake him up in the morning, cocking his head to peer into Everett's sleeping face.
Truman loves to drink milk and put together train tracks, dig in the sand box and carry around armfuls of tiny (and huge) cars. He loves to hug and to kiss and to run and to dance. He wants to jump so badly, and tries ecstatically, throwing his arms into the air and bending his knees and going nowhere with stunning excitement. He is fearless, picking up beetles and crawling on high ledges with equal abandon.
Today, Truman talked.
He's been slowing gathering "words" these past six months, during which he was evaluated by the MESD (he passed their tests with far less than flying colors) and endlessly analyzed and agonized over by me. He learned "cah" (all things with wheels, except buses), "kack kack!" for quack, or duck, "cheee!" for chick,"t-t-t-t-t-t-t-teeeee" for train, a gutteral grunt for a dog's bark, "rah!" for Everett, or brother, who knows, "uh-oh" and "whoa," both executed perfectly, "sheeooish" for shoes (and socks, sandals, boots), always very excitedly, and a word I can't even figure out how to type that must be a combination between "teeth" and "tooth" and "brush" and "wash," "theeeeashh!" perhaps. These added to the aforementioned "kee-ie-ieeehh", "haah!" and "aye!" to make 12 words, with other sounds that seem to stand in for words ("EEEEEE!" for bus and "da-duh-duh-da" for bottle, for instance) bringing him to a critical mass that constitute "progress" in the eyes of MESD. He won't be diagnosed with a learning disability this young.
His second birthday was Saturday, and when he woke up in the morning I looked into his lovely eyes, and asked, "Truman, are you going to talk today?" He looked back at me, as if to say, "mama, please stop pressuring me," and smiled.
Everett was hopeful, and kept saying that "Truman is so big that he's almost ready to start talking!" Yes, at two years old. I sighed, and got to creating our birthday.
But today, he and Everett were happily playing with trains on the floor of my office as I tried to work late into the night (never quite succeeding in finishing my important project, naturally). "Beep, beep, beep!" said Everett, as I brought Truman his own train to run in front of Everett's. "Beep, beep, beep!" said Truman, clear as day, running his train just where his brother wanted it. My eyes popped.
An hour later, they chased the kitty downstairs. "Kitty, kitty, kitty!" said Everett, calling for her. "Kitty! Kitty!" said Truman.
I hugged them both. I was ecstatic. "Everett, how did Truman learn so many words so quickly?" I asked. "I've been teaching him!" said Everett proudly.
Indeed. What a thing it is to have a big brother, and a mama who can finally let go of her angst.
Truman, light of my life, 18-month-old of my soul. Oh, how have I forsaken you.
Despite a couple of mis-cues and non-starts on updating this web site, I've failed utterly to keep up to date with all that is Truman. I adore Truman and spending time with him is vastly better than writing about him. But I suspect that the reason I haven't kept his blog up better (o.k., at all, it's been a darned year):
Truman is trouble
Oh, it's lovable trouble. But it's time-consuming, maddening, undo-everything-you've-just-worked-so-hard-on trouble. It's the sort of trouble that stops you in your tracks and makes your jaw drop open. The sort of trouble that makes you wish for a camera, yet certain you'd never again wish to look at the photo. And besides, you're deciding that it is ok to spank a toddler, if you're really, really mad ...
There was the time I was having a serious, very important, emotional talk with Chantel and I heard a scattering noise. You know? Like marbles falling out of a funnel? And when I finally went into the kitchen I discovered that Truman was, joyfully, taking handfuls of cat food and throwing them wildly all throughout the kitchen. He wouldn't stop even though I yelled "no!" and shot him a look of death. He still was trying to get into the cat food when I slammed the kitchen door, him on the other side, to start sweeping it up. "Mem.. mem... MEEHHM!" he wailed, and my heart yearned for him even through my considerable anger.
Hours later, he got into the cat food again. And did it so happily.
I can't tell you the things I've found in the toilet. Or the number of times he's dumped out the garbage can in my office. Or the many and varied ways he's found to empty a drawer of its clothes ... and then ecstatically attempt to 'help' me put the clothes back in, waving his hands about in an uncoordinated imitation of his dad rolling up his little shirts.
Or last Saturday, when I had the flu and was weakly trying to pack my clothes for my 7-day business trip, flying out early early the next morning. And every time I put something in and turned my back, he'd throw it somewhere. No wonder I arrived in 50-degree, windy Dulles with only one (not very warm) jacket.
And he doesn't talk. I know, I know, you don't start really talking until around two. But he doesn't say anything. He has three "words."
- HAAA! for 'hi', which he's been saying since he was about six weeks old, you'd think that was a symbol of greatness to come. Uh-uh.
- KKKKKKiiiiieee, more of a guttural sound than a word, for kitty. Oh how he loves the kkkkkkiiiiieeee.
- AYE! AYE! AYE!, for 'That's what I want immediately! No time to waste! NOOOWWW!' This one is more recent, and very difficult to turn down despite its ridiculously high decibel level.
I've done everything the same way, or thereabouts, that I did with Everett, and really, I've had a lot more mother-son time at a young age with Truman. After all, I've been working from home this whole time. We've gone on train rides together, and flown to New York together. Truman's been my constant companion (except last week, sorry sweetie), lo these 18 months. I've talked to him, at length, and about many deep and wonderful things. I've tried to read to him, though I can't even think of two books he's let me get all the way through without yanking the book away from me and having at it himself. Maybe he's learning to read? Skip that whole verbalization thing?
Some days I worry. Other days I just accept that this is my Truman, it's who he is. He doesn't wish to grace us with a vocabulary yet. We give him what he wants, most of the time, and my oh my does he know what he wants. He can scale the playground equipment that terrifies Everett. He can open just about anything. He can put together a whole lineup of Thomas trains.
He's the most eccentric baby I've ever met. And the most charming. Both my boys are charming but where Everett uses his language, "come on come on, we're just going to go out here and play superheroes, come on come on, it's ok, we're going to have so much fun! ok ok, I'm the superhero and you're a superhero TOO," Truman uses his eyes, his smile, his hugs, his technique of climbing into a complete stranger's lap...
I love him every day a little more, even though he's likely found a new way to create chaos in my life. Oh, the number of times I've had to restart my computer because he mysteriously disabled my right- and left-arrow keys. Oh, the number of photos he's shredded or balls of yarn he's unwound all over the house, through the living room, up the stairs...
Truman is trouble, but I can't help beaming through the tears. And oh, those brown eyes...
Truman is just a scoocher. He motors around with his little caterpillar action, in pursuit of whatever toy is always just out of his reach - a little ducky, perhaps, or (much better) one of his brothers' toys. The Thomas carrying case is particularly attractive, but the diecast Thomas trains are also drool-worthy.
It always boggles my mind. Here he is, barely five months old... and I can leave the room for a few minutes, or lose myself in my blog post, and all of the sudden, he's three feet away. Sure, he's not going to set any land-speed records, but - hey, he's faster than an actual caterpillar.
He's all about turning over, now, and his favorite thing to turn over toward is the white plastic wipes box. He reaches his arms out as if after Juliet in her moonlit tower, then, phwomp! he's turned his baby linebacker body over, he's grabbing the wipes box with gusto.
It's getting harder, in fact, to change his diaper - because I have to keep turning him to his back again, four or five times per change. Good thing he loves his diaper changes or we'd have quite a fight on our hands.
Five months is so long, but it's been the blink of an eye. I find it hard to believe that, only 150-some days ago, I was soaked in milk, aching everywhere, in a drug- and surgery-induced haze, itching all over from that allergic reaction and already falling in love with my tiniest of wrinkled babes.
Now I have this gorgeous, soulful brown-eyed spitter, this boy of a thousand expressions, who can open his mouth almost as wide as his face, who loves to look at the faces of men and sucks on his fingers so vigorously that he gags himself.
He's my good boy, the one who's almost-always happy, who goes down to sleep as if he actually likes the rest, who grabs toys with his whole body and focuses with such gobsmacked precision on the task at hand.
He will happily go to anyone's arms, and never minds if mom sets him down for a few minutes... or goes out for an hour. He's equally happy in the sling, carseat, stroller, or floor. Today I layed him down in his cradle to play while I started dinner. I had to run upstairs for a while, and Everett asked me to sing a silly madeup song. I was singing when I came back down, and Truman was almost asleep, eyes rolling back into his head, when he heard me come in with my off-key tunes. His whole body reacted; his eyes shot open, he smiled with the most amazing happiness, and he reached for me with outstanding joy at my crazy music. And then he relaxed, and fell asleep.
I love his happiness, his calm, his easy-going nature, his expressive face. I love the way his little monkey legs grab hold of me when I balance him on my hip. I love that he actually sleeps, that he giggles when I change his diaper. But most of all I love his brown, brown eyes, lit with just a tinge of mommy's green at the very center. He's so very much his daddy's boy - his daddy's eyes, and hair, and body - but he's got his mama's soul, I can see it in the way he looks at me. I can't wait to get to know him better.
Truman finally perfected the roll-over, and he's decided it's a mighty fine thing to do. I lie him on his back on the letter mats in front of the TV, and minutes later I look up to hear his fingernails scritch-scratching on the bright dimpled foam.
It's a fabulous developmental step, and I'm so proud - and HE'S so happy about his accomplishment (well, this kid is happy about everything...). But it's problematic for a couple of reasons. First... Everett is SO into little things, which will one day very soon need to be picked up. Second... he gets stuck. He flips over, and he's stuck on his tummy, and sometimes if I'm not paying attention, his little arms will give out and he'll be faceplanted in a puddle of drool. Poor kid.
But it's so fun to watch. So fun, in fact, that I've taken to putting an assortment of toys around his head, just far enough away so that he has to turn over to get them. He loves reaching for a prize and I love how surprised he always is that he's done the flipper-oo. Talk about quality family entertainment!
Sure, it's easy to be the good one when you're too young to say "NO!" or "I am not going to DO THAT!" or his most recent, "Dannit!" (oops). But Truman doesn't take the easy way out, no, he's a brilliant baby.
My theory has become this: Truman had two routes to go as child #2. Either he could be wildly fussy, colicky, a screamer, forcing me to pay attention to him, or go crazy; or he could be unethically cute, happy, good, impossible to resist. Never before has a baby received so many kisses and exclamations over his cuteness.
Truman's goodness, in stark contrast to his brother's impossibility, makes me wonder: will he always be so good? Will he always have such a happy, cheerful, giggling temperament? Will he always make me smile or will (sometimes) I decide he, too, is an impossible son?
The verdict is out, at least for the next 30-some months. But the general consensus is that he is unstoppably good, that I will always have Truman, the good son.
Truman has discovered the beauty of bringing everything he can grab into his mouth. Whatever it is that comes within his eyesight, or he brushes accidentally in one of his frenetic handwaves - straight to his mouth.
My hair is his especial favorite, but he'll also give drooly love to toys, blankies, clothes we leave lying around, balls, hands (his, mine, his brother's), plastic bags, the buckle on his sling, or - yum! - my chin.
Dangle something in front of him, it's going into his mouth. His new favorite toy is the Oball, a brilliantly-designed flexible plastic ball made from interlocking octagons (or, some sort of -gons, I don't have one in front of me as I type this). It has sooo many places for both fingers and lickety-luscious tongue action. The Oball + Truman = luuurrrve.
Happy four-month birthday, Truman! I can't believe how old, old, old you're getting. You're so strong and sturdy that people rave about your muscular legs, your amazing ability to stand on my lap, weeble-wobbling from your torso but with rock-solid legs. The way you grab my arm or my hair to pull yourself in when you're hungry or needing a cuddle is both endearing and terrifying - because if you're this strong now, will I ever be able to get you in your car seat when you're two?
Sometimes I look in your eyes and, for the smallest bit of a second, think I can see the brain of a four-year-old peering back at me. Today you said "hi" to Father Stephen, as clear as day, when he greeted you enthusiastically. Patty and I looked at each other in shock, there was no doubt. No gurgles or coos or squealing, just "hi." Do you understand everything I'm saying? Can you read the books along with Everett and I? I can't help but believe that it's true.
You haven't been sleeping as much as usual for the past week, and today, you never slept more than 20 or 30 minutes at a time - and only two of those catnaps. You were happy and hungry, and spent a lot of time in my lap.
At one point around 9:30, I was tired from our day together and wishing I could put you down and peck away at my trusty laptop. And you started grinning at me, in your wide-open crooked-mouthed wild-fisted way, and weeble-wobbling, and grabbing my hair with glee. And I just wanted to cry with happiness, and hugged you, and giggled teary-eyed and got myself a cup of coffee. And we sat there, talking and laughing at each other, and I covered your wobbly happy sleepless head with kisses.
I know that some days I'll be angry with you, and that you and I will have power struggles just like your older brother. But I'll never stop having this feeling that tears the air out of my lungs and makes me cry from the pit of my stomach, this moony complex love. Four months, and already I can't remember life without you.
Truman almost turned over today, with mama typing at the computer just a few feet away. But just as he scooched from his back onto his side, Everett swooped in and flipped him the rest of the way. I did my best not to be angry, I was so excited for his little milestone. Of course: the living room is so not ready for a movable boy. Guess I'd better get organizin'.
While Everett's been in preschool, Truman and I have taken the opportunity to do some other things. Thursday we went to baby mama yoga, and today is the second time we've hung out at Random Order Coffeehouse (19th and Alberta, about a half-mile from preschool), drinking coffee and eating pie and breastfeeding and reading the Times (oooh, ahh, ohhhhh!) and typing like crazy.
Truman lies, stands, or bounces on my lap while I read and eat and type. He loves to look around over my shoulder while I keep my fingers busy. It shouldn't work, but it does, somehow. I have to take some uncomfortable liberties - like, leaving my laptop alone while we go to the bathroom together - but the noisy coffeehouse, filled with other laptop-toters and and unusually large number of pregnant women and other new mamas, is somehow very conducive to my focus and Truman's calm happiness.
He is bouncing, and spitting, pushing off with his outrageously strong muscles and making a series of wet spots on my right sleeve as I type. It's not perfect, but it's really nice, and if I were the sort of mama who wanted to hold onto an age forever, I think this would be the one.
Truman's been working on that all-important turn over for the past few days. When I lay him down on his back, he wiggles and arches and kicks and squirms, turning himself around like a spinner, scooting himself a foot or two in whatever direction his head happens to be pointing. He's no longer immobile, but he's not yet dangerous.
As Everett and I cheer him on, I'm not sure if I should be encouraging, even helping, him, or just letting him spin happily on his chunky little axis. We've had a good run in this immobile time. I don't know if either I or my house is ready for mobility.
It was a hot, hot day, and we were hiding out in our living room, navy blue linen curtains imperfectly blocking out the sun. As usual, I was having trouble leaving Truman alone. You see, the thing is, he loves to talk to his mama, and it's so unbelievably charming...well, you try ignoring a little human who reacts to every word you say with gigantic crooked smiles and wild waving of his hands. "Whoa, ooomm!" he says, so happy that you think his heart is going to burst out of his chest and his cheeks are going to crack from the joy. And how can you not leave that?
I did it, though, I set him down at his frog gym, and went into the kitchen for coffee, or water, or a crusty piece of Como bread with cocoa-hazelnut spread. It was something, anyway, and I was gone for a minute. When I came back, he was playing with his frog and his turtle, batting them and pulling them inexpertly towards his mouth (the little turtle has quite the attractive feet, just right for little mouths).
And I realized...he was figuring out his hands, right there, right then. As I watched him, he was overwhelmed with the thrill that he was making these beautiful primary-colored amphibians move. It was, well, the time of his very life. "Your hands, Truman, those are YOUR HANDS!" I exclaimed, so proud. Everett joined in, giggling, jumping up and down, squeaking, "Truman, your hands!" And we were all so happy because Truman, he has hands.
If you really want to know, the reason my water bill is late this month is because I spend ALL my money on photo developing. How can you not?
There is no more worthy subject of the magic of light images on thin sheets of metal than a baby. And no more baby more worthy of being said subject than mine, with his thousand nuanced expressions, his millions of adorable cells.
You'll have to click for more photos; I'll give you two progressions here:
I wondered, when Truman was born, if I'd either (a) stop taking photos of Everett, and instead spend all my time with the baby; or (b) never get as many great, varied, obsessively-adoring pics with Truman as I did with Everett. But instead I've been taking rolls, and rolls, developing seven or eight at a time, producing wild and exuberant piles of color, smiles, frowns, baby skin and hair, children and water and sand and green, green grass.
I can't believe my good fortune at producing such beauty, both of the human and of the photographic type. And I can't imagine how to ever do justice to the stunning wonder of it all. I have dreams of bookshelves filled with fat photo albums of giant 15" prints, long halls and playrooms and living rooms filled with white-matted frames. Does anyone have a house they'd like to fill with stunning pictures of my kids and their friends?
Truman visited the beach for the first time (out of my tummy, that is) yesterday. It was also our longest road trip to date with the two of my babes. All indications are that it was a success. Truman spent long hours sleeping in his baby wrap (we're trying my own wrap for a change) while I chased after Everett in the waves, sat by a bonfire, ate s'mores, cooked delicious eggs benedict and bacon and drank lots of good coffee, walked in the brilliant sun and driving sand that is Manzanita in the late summer.
Even though I've been the mom to two boys for over three months, now, I'm still amazed at my frailty. As I tripped over sand dunes, in pursuit of Everett (who was hell-bent at reaching the waves) and his friend Guthrie, bouncing Truman in the wrap, I wondered - what would I do if Everett and Guthrie got sucked into an undertow? Would I swim after them with Truman attached (surely losing my knot in the process)? Would I just scream at the top of my lungs for help?
No one got drowned, although Everett got drenched. I had him take off his shirt and run back on his own as the sun sunk behind the clouds slinking low on the horizon. He froze, Truman bounced, but all was well and everyone slept like piles of driftwood.
Although he's only a tiny one, still, I feel as if I'm successful in nature-ifying Truman. He spends several hours a week lying under the gigantic pines at various Portland parks; he's felt the cold salt air of the beach at night, and the sandy hot wind of the day; he's sniffed roses, and lilacs, and peonies, and butterfly bushes, on our walks from home to Trader Joe's; he's been rained on, sunned on, dunked his little feet in the big big wading pool at Kenilworth Park. He's shopped at all manner of farmer's markets. Tomorrow we run on the riverbank, his first ride in the jogging stroller. He's one of the lucky ones, for sure.
It struck me the other day what a huge, huge change Truman has experienced in such a short time. It wasn't so long ago that he was all snuffles and those tiny, stiff kicks. Now he's smiling, cooing, loving me in the best, best way.
On Wednesday, Everett was jumping on the bed and I was so angry at him. It was just defiance central around here. I picked up Truman from his cradle, as he'd awaked from the noise and bumping. And prepared to be very, very angry. But Truman opened his mouth so wide I thought he'd break it, and laughed with unbearable glee at his brother's antics. I started laughing too, and Everett, encouraged by our nonstop happiness, jumped a thousand times wilder, sillier, higher. We were all giggling, happy, zany, in a nonstop cycle of pure joy. It was five minutes, or more, of this cycle and I thought my head would split open from happiness.
n.b. - Everett shortly thereafter jumped on Truman and I, and got one heck of a punishment when he wouldn't stop, then followed me in the living room just to hit me and get another punishment. But that's another story.
So we were at the wading pool today, and there was a new mama. Her little daughter, Conscience, was 18 months and a total cutey. Everett was playing chase with her and boy, did she want my coffee. New mama and I struck up a conversation and she gave me a rundown on my family's numerology (her friend was writing a book). I'm not what you'd call a true believer but she had me amazed at how right-on she was with me, Everett and Jonathan.
She says Truman will be expressive, creative, want to work with his hands. He'll need structure and organization, won't do well unless he has it (I have these traits, too, and the structure one is my biggest problem - evidently that's my "challenge number"). I'm supposed to help him with that, ya know.
Was it today? Was it yesterday? Time goes so fast. Yesterday, I think it was, out of the blue Truman said, "GAH!" clearly, perfectly, like a bell. Everett talked to God, too, when he was little - but he was almost one year old by the time he pointed at the big tree in our side yard and gave a salute to the big guy. Truman? less than three months. I wonder how often God visits without mama overhearing their conversation.
And then, today, I think, I was in the kitchen cooking up coffee, or some such thing. Everett and Truman and daddy were all in the bedroom when Truman says, "mom!" as clear as a bell. Everyone heard it and there wasn't even a question. Truman's first words: "God" and "Mom."
Now that's a lovely baby. I think I'll keep him.
...I swoop him up to the changing table and set him down gently. As soon as his head touches the pad, he starts in on his grins, waving his arms in enthusiastic support of the diaper-changing mission. he loves his diaper changes! Strange but true...
...I hear him fussing, waking up from a long nap. I pick him up, high in the air, then down to hug against my chest, where he snorts and nuzzles like a fat sweet-smelling piglet, eyes closed, starving, and continues to snort desperately unti the nipple has been placed in his mouth. Then he gulps, deep stomach-jolting swallows, snuffling frequently until his hunger has been mollified...
Have you ever seen anything so cute? My sweet little double-chinned baby is giggling like crazy. And he laughs (or, well, smiles crookedly while cooing and burbling) at the oddest things. Today he was just giggling up a storm...like the time I pulled the sling out from under him while he was lying on our comforter. And when I said "peek-a-boo-boo-boo!" And when I looked at him with wide eyes. And when I talked to him, and when I got half-way through his diaper change.
How wonderful is it to go from diaper changes causing full-on-top-of-lungs screaming to diaper changes causing these cute cooing giggles? I love it. Oh, this child of mine, he's gorgeous, just look...
Truman has discovered his kickers. And may I say, ouch. There are better ways to wake up than to have the feet of a future football player jammed into your c-section scar at 5 a.m. And again, and again, like he's doing that drill, you know the one, with the tires? Only on your c-section scar? At 5 a.m.?
Owwwee. Such is the payback for the substantial benefit of being good at nursing while (mostly) sleeping.