1. Potty Training Complete! By two he was using the potty regularly. Now he is three and virtually accident-free. No more dirty diapers! (Bonus: that’s $65/month we no longer have to pay to the diaper service).
2. Toddler Logic: “Where are your pants?” I asked my boy today. “I had to take them off to play baseball, Daddy.” While the logic was classic toddler, which is to say virtually lacking, he was telling the truth: he was indeed practicing tee-ball in his room.
3. Monsters: Monsters have been the rage for the past year. When he wants the car heater or stereo off, he tells me to turn them off, or monsters will get me. He told me he wanted to tie up a tree with his rope, to protect it from monsters. When I ask what he dreamed last night, it’s usually good monsters or blue kitties. Blue kitties? Monsters? What’s the connection, you ask? My wife and I were equally perplexed until we watched Monsters Inc. with him one evening, a movie he saw often at daycare. The protagonist is a blue monster named Sully who is adopted by a little girl who calls him “Kitty.”
4. Hugging: My boy insists on hugging everyone before leaving daycare each day, sometimes two or three times, and sometimes with such gusto that they all tumble into a giggling heap on the floor.
5. Playing Rocket Ship: He lays belly down across my feet, as I lay on my back with my knees bent. “Ready, Daddy? O.K. Five-Four-Three-Two-One-Blast Off. [Rocket noises].” At this point I launch him up toward the ceiling by straightening my legs and fly him around for as long as I can stand it, all the while humming “Ride of the Valkyries.”
6. Playing Hole: I lay on my back, one knee bent, the other leg crossed over it, forming a tiny hole through which my boy loves to crawl. “Make it smaller, Daddy.” He loves to squeeze through the tightest hole possible, perhaps reliving the birthing experience? (Note: works best with sleek nylon sweatpants).
7. Junk House: We keep a loveseat in the corner of our living room, behind which we store a few odds and ends. My boy loves to get behind there and build forts with all the junk we store there. Hence, he started calling the forts his “Junk House.”
8. Seafood: He’s a relatively brave eater, for a toddler. While his favorite foods include hotdogs, berries, carrots, noodles and rice, he also enjoys clams and crabs. Today we purchased crabs from a boat in Half Moon Bay and he insisted on lugging the bag all the way back to the car, with the beasts flailing and clacking their claws the whole time. There’s nothing cuter than watching him sucking on crabs legs (or gnawing on a lamb chop bone).
9. Backyard Foraging: We are one of the incredibly lucky five or six families in San Francisco that actually have a yard, let alone one well-suited to farming. While the clay and slugs (and my aversion to pesticides) limit what we can grow, we actually do quite well, especially in the eyes of my son, who enjoys nothing more than foraging in our garden and eating right off the plant various treats like corn on the cob, which he shucks himself, blackberries, sweet peas and beans.
10. Super Mole: This is his own creation, an alter ego super hero that lives in caves (generally tents we build for him out of pillows and blankets). “Daddy, say ‘Help me, Help me.” I do, and he comes running, screaming ”Super Mole, to the rescue!”
11. Reverse Timeouts: When my son needs some quiet, private time with Daddy, he says, “Daddy, you need a timeout,” and then leads me to his room, closes the door, and we read and play games. One of the favorite timeout games is playing doctor (see below).
12. Playing Doctor: “Daddy, I’ll fix you now.” He takes out his toy saw and starts sawing my leg. He gets out his electric toy drill and starts drilling my navel. He uses his pliers and wrench to pinch and twist my arms and legs, and then makes me feel all better with a bandage (usually an old rag or security blanket) and a kiss.
13. Toddler Humor: If you ask, he will tell you his full name, his mommy’s full name, and those of his aunts and uncles. But when you ask him my name, it’s always “Uncle David.”
14. More Toddler Logic: “Cars are dangerous, Daddy. Cars are really, really powerful. I’m more powerful than a car, Daddy.”
15. Toddler Empathy: Around thanksgiving time we were talking about turkeys. I explained how I used to live in a house in Berkeley, with a big yard, with chickens and turkeys, and that when I tended my vegetable garden, the turkey would sit down next to me and eat the snails and slugs I tossed to it. The bird was terribly affectionate and loved to have its scaly, carbuncled neck stroked. “What happened to it, Daddy?” After explaining to my boy what happens to turkeys in Berkeley, he said, “That’s o.k., daddy. I’ll get you a new one.”
16. More Toddler Empathy: The other day I was cooking and cut myself, ”Ow!” I shouted. “What’s wrong, Daddy?” I showed him my bleeding finger and explained what happened. “It’s o.k., Daddy. You just need a bandaid,” and he led me to the bathroom and helped me put one on.
17. Swimming: He is fearless in the water, dog-paddling across the width the pool on his own, without any cajoling or begging by the instructor. Within a few weeks of starting his lessons, he figured out how to keep his mouth shut under water (pretty much the only time it is).
18. More Toddler Humor: A favorite game involves pretending to twist off my nose and then chucking it across the room, or placing it into his mouth and joyously chewing it up. Then come the ears, lips and occasionally the eyeballs.
19. Toddler Mischief: “I’m going to my room for some private time. You stay out here, Daddy,” which is to say, “I’m off to be naughty. You stay out here, so I won’t get caught.”
20. Giants Fever: I’m not a big baseball fan. However, by playoff time I had caught Giants fever like many of my fellow fair-weather Friscans. Obviously, sleep was out of the question with all the blaring horns, screaming hordes, vuvuzelas and fireworks outside our house. So I brought my boy out to the living room (we’re on the second floor) and we hung our heads out the window and for a half an hour screamed at the top of our lungs, “Gi-ants! Gi-ants! Gi-ants!” much to the amusement of the drunken passersby. Once calm returned to our neighborhood I asked my son, “What’s a Giant?” He replied, “Oh, you know, Daddy, he’s one of those really, really bad guys.” (As in fairytale giants).
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