But it is sad to think that his antics will be undocumented, and thus forgotten, so here are a few things that I want to remember about Shep right now.
It's funny how a lot of these things are alternately precious/drive me batty. I guess that means I'm the parent of a full-fledged toddler, not a baby!
- He walks like a champ, and has the cute toddler run/waddle thing going on now, too. He actually has been walking for a while, but I don't think this blog has heard about it yet. He started taking steps independently when he was about 14 months, but it took him a good month or month and a half before he was comfortable with it.
Despite being sure on his feet, he is still a cautious little guy. He doesn't really test his limits independently. We have to encourage him to do things he hasn't tried, such as walking on the snow (he still avoids that one), walking by himself in the shallow end of the pool, climbing up onto a step stool, etc. But he seems to pick things up quickly once he decides he's interested.
- He's expressing all sorts of personality of late. For example, he gets really mad if things don't go his way when he plays with his blocks. He got Lego Duplo blocks for Christmas and some Mega Bloks from the Stoddards. I think he prefers the Duplos, but I actually took them away and hid them just today because he gets super frustrated playing with them by himself. I guess his motor skills are not quite developed enough to take them apart and put them back together effectively, so he needs someone to sit down and play with him.
I guess this is regular toddler behavior, but he gets pretty fixed on certain things and it can be hard to distract him and redirect his attention in order to avoid tantrums. I have been the mother of that child who throws himself down on the floor and screams at the grocery store plenty of times now. Though I think we generally do a good job at tantrum avoidance. It happens.
- He's not really talking much at all, but I can tell he understands several words. He says "hi" and "bye" inconsistently, but has just this week started using them more consistently at the right times. He also says "shoes" and will get his shoes when we ask him to. Sometimes he brings us his shoes when he wants to go outside, or brings us our shoes when he wants us to get going. He pushes our legs to move us to things, too. He knows a few body parts, like "nose" and "belly button." He knows "hot" and tries to say it, and I can tell he understands the meaning of the word, too, because he uses it when putting his hand close to hot food, hot water, hot stove, etc. He's known how to point to his belly button for like six months, but again, he's been pretty inconsistent. Sometimes I have wondered if his hearing is damaged, because I'll say his name or something and he doesn't respond at all. He is pretty selective at listening.
I'm anxious for him to start talking more, especially as all of the recommendations say babies his age should be saying a lot of words. I think he knows he can communicate pretty well without words, so he isn't super motivated to learn English. He has a special dog-like pant when he wants something that we're eating or drinking, for example. There is a lot to be desired on the communication front, though. He seems to get particular scenarios in his mind that I don't telepathically understand, and it frustrates him to no end when they aren't carried out.
- He seems to like wearing clothes, getting dressed, etc. Most of the time! Sometimes he hates it. But I'll find him trying to put on his own clothes, too. Sometimes he brings us the clothes he wants to wear (those within his reach), and he seems really into zippers. He thought the words "zip" and "zipper" were hilarious for like two days a while ago, but then gave up thinking they were funny, apparently.
- He's been inconsistent with this one as well (I'm noting a theme here?), but he generally likes giving kisses. He is funny about his method: his kissy face is just opening his mouth in an O and then making sounds to get our attention. Almost inevitably, after giving one of us a kiss, he'll look for the other of us to kiss. Even if I'm alone with him, I'll ask him for a "kiss" and he'll give me one, but then look around for another source of affection.
- He likes to organize similar objects, such as sorting colored pencils by color or lining them up.
- He loves taking things out of containers and handing them to people, or moving them. He seems pretty good at sharing, in a general sense. He likes to try to feed me the food he's eating.
- Maybe classic toddler behavior, but we have an inconsistent/picky eater.
- I'm a lot less diligent about using the nursing cover to nurse him in public (it's a source of some inconvenience), but when I bring it along, if he wants to nurse, sometimes he'll get it out of the diaper bag and bring it to me. On the topic of nursing, which my blog readers may be sick of (but I most certainly am not!), yes, it's still happening with a fair amount of frequency. Shep nurses to fall asleep consistently. He's wakes about twice a night on average, and nurses back down. I'm not really sure, but for the most part it's really quite manageable. He also nurses a couple of other times throughout the day, but I don't really keep track. If he's bored and fussy, he does more. I do feel like I'm not as concerned about his fussy eating habits when I'm still nursing, because I feel like he's still getting decent nutrition through that.
I could write a lot about nursing in general (like why I even feel the need to talk about it, for starters), but suffice it to say I don't think he's ready to wean anytime soon, and I'm not interested in forcing it on him. I never imagined breastfeeding a toddler, but we take it one day at a time. It is frustrating to me sometimes to nurse him, but for the most part, I'm happy to continue as long as it interests him. I do worry about weaning him sometimes, though. I don't know if he'll ever lose interest! Self-led weaning might not work for us, so if any moms have any advice about that, please let me know!
- He has the funniest dance moves whenever we play music for him: lifting his arms like a cactus and turning in circles, bouncing and sticking out his bum, bobbing his head, etc.
- He loves pretending to talk on the phone and has been doing that for quite some time now. It's adorable. He also likes giving cell phones to their owners, and can identify ownership here.
- Lately (past week or so) he's really been into "helping" me with the dishes. He likes to get up on a step stool so he can reach the sink and generally make a mess with the water. He's also really into drinking water that he plays with the last few days, despite disciplinary efforts to dissuade him.
I find myself tending to err on the side of "Whatever makes you happy, I'll allow" rather than preventing destruction, chaos, or whatever craziness might ensue from giving him free reign. This tendency worries me a bit (Is discipline something I'm even capable of?), but perhaps self-awareness will help me keep it in check. It doesn't help that when I try to say "no," Shep just laughs and does that exact thing more. It doesn't make me feel particularly effective.
- He's gone through several object fetishes. These don't seem to run the "normal" gamut of lovie objects, such as blankies and stuffed animals. For a while it was washcloths. He went through a snack cup (filled with Cheerios) phase. He also went through a phase where he was carrying pens. (Now I have to avoid giving him pens because he is dangerous with them!)
I got a food processor on Black Friday and he got so much mileage out of playing with the packing Styrofoam that came in the box. I think it's because they were big and light, so he could carry them around and move them to different spots. (He also liked taking the meat thermometer and poking holes in the Styrofoam.) We also just got a new package of disposable diapers, and he was doing the same thing with the individual packs of 30 or so diapers. He'd just move them from place to place. I don't really get it, but it's funny.
- He doesn't laugh a ton, but he seems to be trying out different laughs from time to time. He went through an evil laugh phase a few months ago. It was so extreme that I got pretty fed up with hearing it, but then he stopped fortuitously. It was hilarious, though. Now he has different laughs for different situations, it seems, though I might not be able to define them all.
- The only time we really spend time apart from each other is when he goes to nursery. He does fairly well at going, though it took several weeks of us sitting in there for him to get comfortable. Now he's okay because he likes being around other kids and knows the leaders, for the most part, but it's still a bit hit and miss. I also have worries about him being bullied. Any other parents out there experienced this? Some of the more aggressive kids hit/grab/push/etc. Shep doesn't seem to mind, but this actually happens quite a lot, and I'm not sure how to respond. I don't want him to mimic this kind of behavior.
- (POST-PUBLICATION UPDATE) I forgot to write another thing: I love when Shep comes and sits in my lap. He does so when I put his shoes on, and when we read together sometimes. He's a cute little guy.