Our first baby turns two years old today. Many friends and family members ask, “Can you believe he’s already two?” Or they say, “Where did the time go?” But I have the wonderful blessing of having a front row seat as this little boy grows up.
Yes, I can believe he is two. I was awake every moment he was awake; I witnessed each day of tumbles and tantrums and triumphs. I waited (im)patiently as he learned to say, “I love you, Mommy!” and then gasped when he started speaking in real sentences. We battled through hundreds of tough situations--deciding whether to go to the ER, dealing with teaching him table manners, waking up for a fourth, fifth, sixth time in one night--where Terry and I looked at each other helplessly and silently asked, “What the hell do we do?” I watched him take his sweet time learning to roll over, then sit up, then crawl, then walk, and now run. He’s never been quick on any of it, but his timing gave me a chance to enjoy the process all the more. I know he is two because two years ago our lives suddenly became centered around this needy, precious, exhausting, hilarious little being, and every day since I have thanked God for choosing us to be his parents.
I know where the time went: it went to doing our best to show this sweet kid as much as we could of what the world has to offer. It went to lots of walks in the park and endless nights bouncing on an exercise ball while cradling his (surprisingly heavy, after an hour or two) little body, to showing him all the different vegetables in the grocery stores just to get out of the house and racing home so he wouldn’t fall asleep in the car (then giving up and driving for hours to give him a good nap). The time went to handing him to Terry out of exasperation and walking out of the room to count to ten when I just didn’t know what else to do, and to not wanting to hand him over to anyone else. It went to crying when we moved him out of our room to sleep, to nights of sleeping on the floor next to his crib, to sneaking into his room to check on him and holding my breath until I could see his chest rise and fall. The time went to dozens and dozens of conversations with Terry about doing everything right, and questioning myself every time a relative or friend or article made a comment that suggested we weren’t. The time went to giggling before bedtime and feeding him more than we thought possible, to hundreds of firsts and more lasts already than my heart can stand to count. The time was spent worrying about him, always worrying, and praying that we were doing okay.
So he is two, and I can believe it, and I know where the time went, but I am so grateful for these two years. The fact that two years really felt like two years means, I suppose, that I spent that time soaking it all up. When he was born I was warned (over and over again) to cherish every moment, so I did. And so far, I think it’s working. I don’t think there’s much I would change about our first two years with this kid. And now to share a little about Marshall’s two-year-old self:
For some reason we scheduled his two-year wellness exam on his actual birthday, so we got a very accurate look at his two-year stats. Marshall is 28.7 pounds (57th percentile) and 36 inches (96th percentile), and his pediatrician estimates that he’ll end up around 6’2” (apparently they can tell at this age?), just like Daddy. But the poor guy also got three shots to round out his experience.
The most exciting development is Marshall’s talking and general ability to communicate. He tends to narrate what he’s doing, even when he’s playing by himself (“Drive the truck,” “Putting the ball away,” “Get the stool”), and he can usually tell us what he needs or wants. We’re also, of course, seeing more emotions, so the tears start pretty quickly when we say no, and he has so far maxed out at about ten consecutive minutes of crying over whatever he was upset about that day. We’re also working on whining and helping him understand patience, teaching him to ask for what he wants with, “I would like…,” but those lessons might be long-term goals. Generally, Terry and I are learning quickly what upsets him most, but sometimes he gets going and we just can’t intervene! So we are clear and firm and try to move on as best we can. It helps me to remember that when I’m feeling frustrated, he must be twice as frustrated, because at least I can understand what’s going on and rationalize the situation. But typically it’s all over in a few minutes, and we get our happy kid back.
With talking comes some hilarious moments. Terry and I finally started a quote board in an attempt to remember Marshall’s one-liners, but inevitably we forget a lot of the good ones. Still, here are some Marshall-isms to date:
“Go get Crank’s!” (when we told him we needed to stop at the store for Frank’s Buffalo sauce) -- now I call it Crank’s at home
“No, Daddy! Go play, Daddy!” (after laughing too much at Daddy’s funny faces and needing a break)
[while wailing at dinner because he had finished his hot dog bun, and he had just learned the word “bun” that meal] “I want a bone! I want a bone!” (I am guilty of collapsing into giggles during this meal while my poor toddler cried and cried about his “bone” (bun))
Daddy, teaching Marshall about life: “Marshall, when life gives you lemons, --”
Marshall: “I’m eating it!”
Us, on the way to a birthday party: “Marshall, we’re going to a birthday party! What do you think will be there?”
Marshall: “Dragons!” (???)
A common one, when he wants us to play with him: “Come on over, Mommy! Come play, Daddy!”
After a nap, a little out of it, on his changing table, “What’s happening?”
And just some sentences that blow me away because I remember how excited I was to hear him say a word for the first time, and now he speaks in full sentences:
“I don’t see any garbage trucks.”
“We’re on a train! We’re going to the beach! Going to throw sand!”
Here are recent favorites: Food (more on that below), imitating Mommy and Daddy, learning new words and trying to say them, reading (the same books, over and over), showing off for people he doesn’t know, “playing” with Scout (bringing him toys and saying, “Here you go, Scout!” or shouting, “Scoooouuuut!” while the cat cowers in fear of what might be coming--although thankfully they are quite respectful toward each other), watching any big trucks, playing with dolls or stuffed animals, anything to do with trains (he says, “Chugga chugga choo choooooo!” and “All aboard!” which sounds like, “Odd aboard!”), cleaning with Mommy or Daddy, vacuuming, singing (or asking us to sing), listening to the Harry Potter audio CDs (he asks for “Dumbledore” when we get in the car!), playing catch (he’s started throwing overhand), going for walks (but now he doesn’t love his stroller, much to our chagrin, so he walks a few blocks and then we buckle him up for longer walks), coloring, going to day care, and cooking (for real or in his play kitchen).
We’re noticing his growing independence, as he can get himself a shirt from his dresser or carry his stepstool from the bathroom to the living room to be able to look out the window. He almost never calls for us from his crib now; instead, he’ll sing to himself (real songs!) and chat for a long while before we finally go in to get him. He is quickly learning the alphabet and can count to eleven (“...seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, eight, nine, ten!”).
Marshall continues to amaze us with how much he can eat. I read recently that a study showed that kids under four or five are very good at ending their meals when they have eaten enough. I shared the study with Terry, and he isn’t buying it. It does seem as though Marshall rarely volunteers to stop eating, and he usually only stops eating when we run out of food (seriously) or he gets tired of being at the table. We have introduced him to some new foods lately, including chopped salads (lettuce is a bit of a struggle for him to chew in big-leaf form, but he enjoys it if we chop it small enough for him) and beets, and some new favorites are shrimp and tomatoes. His overall favorite foods are bread, fruit, and eggs.
Sleep is still going well--one nap around 12:30 for 1.5-3 hours, depending on the circumstances, and then 7:15-7:30 bedtime to 6 or 6:30 am. Every night we are thankful that he sleeps this well, after all those months of struggling to get him to sleep! This summer we will help Marshall transition to a toddler bed (our crib converts), and we bought a video monitor to give us peace of mind during that process. We’re not doing potty training anytime soon, and his pediatrician said there’s no rush, so that settled it. Cloth diapers are working well for us still, and we’ve seen no signs that he’s ready anyway, so we’ll see where we are at the end of the year.
Of course, Marshall has no idea that his little world will soon be permanently disrupted when his little brother or sister arrives in the fall. We really think he’ll do well in the transition, but we are prepared that there might be some rough patches as we all adjust. (Tips welcome!) But most people tell us there’s really nothing you can do to prepare them, kind of like with parents. :-)
To Marshall, our first baby, the one who made us parents: You are a kind soul, as your Daddy says, and you have such a curious, patient mind. You make us laugh, you challenge us, you help us see the world from your perspective. You help us slow down to watch a helicopter or squirrel, yet you show us what fun it is to run instead of walk. We love to laugh with you and oblige when you request another round of catch. We could not be more proud that when you say "UCLA," you follow up with a fist pump and a "Go Bruins!" Every day, we look forward to seeing what you might teach us, what new phrase you might pick up, what funny antics you might get up to, and every day, you amaze us with your silly, expressive, sweet self. We wish you many more years of careless, innocent, joyous childhood days and a very happy year of being two! We love you!