June 2000 page 2 of 2
Friday 16 June

Damian's nap was cut short today so by dinner he was on the verge but still cheerful. That is, until he wasn't anymore. We were out at dinner. Sitting in a booth, Damian perched in a booster next to his daddy devouring the soft insides of the bread and scattering the crusts on the table. The entrees came. Damian's was mac (well, fusilli) and cheese. As he reached for it, I said it might be hot. This was cause for him to throw it down even though it wasn't actually that hot and start wailing for me. He clearly wanted to nurse. I wasn't sure he could be coaxed out of it. Here's what happened:

I got up to go to the bathroom, invited Damian along. He loves this ritual. He came happily (and quietly). We got back to the table. I put him in his booster and sat next to him. He fussed. Loudly. Fusses turning to cries. I offered the fusilli. He turned me down flatly. Angrily, almost. Cried for me. Wanted to nurse. I started eating his fusilli. The cheese sauce was quite tasty. I said so. I put one in his mouth. He stopped mid cry. Shut up completely and started gobbling fusilli as fast as he could cram them in his mouth. Problem solved. Happy kid.

I'm so relieved, I can hardly express it. Just a couple of weeks ago, I would have given in and nursed him then and there and resented him for it. I hate for him to cry. I'm so so glad we can start finding satisfactory solutions. And Damian's learning that he can't get everything he wants when he wants it, but that sometimes that's okay.

Saturday 17 June

Tonight Damian clambered onto his changing table via the tiny ledges on the dresser shelves. He was very pleased with himself. When I called out to Dan to tell him what Damian had done, Damian repeated it to himself, storing his feat in his memory banks: "Damian climb up changing table." He's been narrating his life lately. And repeating words we say. This was a combination.

Sunday 18 June

We were getting ready to go out this morning and Damian grabbed my keys from the couch. He started tossing them and running to scoop them up, then tossing them again. He recited, "Mommy, Daddy, Damian, Keys." Hmm. Not sure when keys got elevated to such a placement in the firmament. Then I said "I need the keys, Damian, so we can go out." He trotted over and handed them to me, then ran to the door.

In the bicycle store, Damian kept handing me helmets to try on. I don't know what's so funny about Mommy in a bike helmet. Then again, maybe I'd find out if I looked in the mirror.

This afternoon he came up to me, announced "poopy" and waited. I said "do you need me to change your diaper?" He led the way to his room and made a beeline for the changing table. It's definitely a step in the toilet training direction. Although in this case he was wrong -- his diaper was just wet.

He's bewitched by music. Tonight he was in his high chair and the TV was on (an unusual occurrence at dinner, actually), tuned to PBS where they were showing an excerpt from a jazz concert. He started banging his toy boat in time with the percussion and stopped as soon as the music stopped.

Tonight I heard him reciting the lyrics from two songs on his favorite video (Baby Songs): "piggy toes one two three piggy toes" and, with no segue, "Mommy come back."

Monday 19 June

We were walking, Damian in the stroller. Damian said "throw rock go bam." Just musing over his day, I gather (he was pebble-tossing earlier). A first for him, verbalizing a memory. He then said something about "maow" so I gather he was talking about how he played with the cat this morning.

He did, too -- play with the cat, I mean. He's been lifting Dante's paws and putting them back down gently. Dante doesn't mind. Damian's also been petting Dante's fur in a much more adult way than ever before.

Tonight at dinner, out of nowhere, he pointed to the center of the table -- at the fruit bowl though I didn't realize it just yet -- and said "cado peas." Expectantly. I stared at him, trying to decipher what in hell he was talking about. Finally it dawned. He was saying "avocado please." He wanted to play with the avocado. By that time, though, I'd already given him an apple and he was content with that so the avocado was overkill. But still. I wish I knew more toddlerese. He's speaking real words but they don't always translate. Must be frustrating.

Tuesday 20 June

We ran into a friend and his wife with their little boy who's just a few months older than Damian. The women sat on the grass while the men ran after the kids. Noah was fascinated by Damian, kept strutting up to him and sort of bobbing close. Damian was fascinated too, stood stock still and looked at Noah with his head lowered and his eyes looking up. Looking down to look up is the way my friends in high school termed it. Yes, he gets it from me. So odd to see something like that mirrored when you least expect it.

Wednesday 21 June

This morning Dan took Damian to Starbucks. He bought an apple muffin or apple coffee cake, something like that. Offered a piece to Damian, who of course offered it right back to him. Dan told him that he should try what life has to offer, not shut himself off. Then he offered the cake again. Damian took it. Ate it. Enjoyed it. Asked for more. Same thing tonight: Dan offered Damian chicken, reminded him of the "try everything" principle of life. Damian doesn't eat chicken. He did tonight, and clearly relished the taste.

Early evening: I sat at the dining table surfing the web on my PowerBook. Damian wanted up. So I sat him on my lap and clicked over to his photo album. He loved looking at pictures of himself. He labelled each photo: "Damian and kitty", "Damian and teddy bear", "Damian and grasshopper" (pull toy), "Damian and stool", "Damian and Mommy." He seemed enthralled with the image of himself as a small baby, especially the picture of me cuddling tiny baby Damian. He smiled a lot at that one and wiggled a little shivery wiggle. And he loved seeing himself asleep on Dan's shoulder.

Thursday 22 June

Damian spent most of today chatting to himself about all kinds of things. Most of which I couldn't understand, though I'm almost certain they were in English. I did catch a lot of "eight nine ten"s.

Dan gave Damian a little Fisher Price tractor today, a hand me down from a friend's kid. Damian glommed onto it immediately. He could tell it went with his Fisher Price garage. Stylistically, at any rate. Unfortunately, it didn't fit through the car wash gates. This frustrated Damian no end. He seemed convinced that if he just shoved it hard enough, or at the right angle, it would magically slip through that blue plastic archway. Physics are not his strong point. I gave him three or four other little cars that do fit and hid the tractor behind my back, then stuffed it under the couch pillow. He was happy again. I brought it back out when he took his bath.

Dan's reading to him right now. Damian sits beside his dad, clutching his little yellow tractor as he gazes at the colorful pictures on the page.

Friday 23 June

This morning at the playground I got to witness something Jami (Damian's sitter) has been saying: that starting this week, Damian's become uncomfortable with heights. But only some heights. Specifically, the upper levels of the jungle gym. He climbs up there and then just sits: he won't stand up come hell or high water. Odd.

After we'd been there an hour, he ran down the sloping path toward the parking lot, turning back to look at me and laugh. I figured he wanted to cut loose. I followed him down. He sat on the curb and drove a little bulldozer off the "cliff." Then wanted to step down into the parking lot himself. I discouraged him, thinking he wanted to just run around. But no, when I held his hand and let him step down, what he wanted was to go home. He made a beeline for our car and reached for the door handle. Decisive kid. He didn't like that I had to turn back but accepted it when I explained that we had to round up his toys and then would go home. (Thank god he listens well.)

Small but significant in its way: tonight he walked down some steps without holding onto a rail or a hand. I was proud of him. He seemed pleased too.

He's started reading his books aloud to himself. Getting the gist, more or less: Go Dog Go involves a lot of "dog" exclamations. The funny one was when he picked up my book and started "reading" aloud, turning pages and everything. It mostly seemed to involve reciting the chapter numbers -- or making them up when he couldn't decipher them.

Saturday 24 June

Today a friend of the hosts visited playgroup, an older woman -- she recently won an Emmy for best supporting actress. She has a wonderful presence. All of which is to underline the compliment she gave my son. She said he has a brilliant face, that his intelligence shines out of his face. And that he seems thoughtful. Not melancholy but contemplative. She seemed quite taken with him.

Sunday 25 June

Damian wasn't interested in joining us for lunch. I didn't push it. He went off and played. Briefly. Then he brought me a book to read. "Damian, I'm eating lunch now. After I finish, I'll be happy to read to you." He went away. Next thing we know, he's at the front door, whining to go out. Same deal. "Damian, when I finish eating." Drat. Gotta try something else. He reappeared at the table, toy firetruck in extended hand. The unvoiced message clear: "Mommy play trucks with me." Same response from gentle but firm Mommy. Finally he tried climbing into my lap to nurse. I guess he figured that's gotta work, right? So I sat him in my lap. I didn't let him nurse but I did let him eat pasta and raspberries off his high chair tray and he was content. He joined us for lunch after all.

Monday 26 June

Damian woke up at six thirty a.m. and went to sleep at ten p.m. with no nap. Kid's got more stamina than I do.

He conquered his slide phobia today. He's always been hesitant about slides, wanting his hand held, not wanting to go more than once or twice. Jami says today he went down and then ran around to the stairs and slid down the slide again and ran around again...

He was also very chatty today. This morning we brought Dan to the orthopedist (he has a torn ligament). Damian was in his stroller as we entered the waiting room. When I unbuckled him, he jumped up and ran over to this big aquarium with colorful (and large) tropical fish. I was commenting on this to Dan and Damian heard me and commented, "Look at the fish." It still surprises me to hear complete sentences come from his mouth.

We just returned a book to the library that I wish we'd renewed. It's called The Cat Sat on the Mat, and in it, the cat sits on lots and lots of objects: chair, table, newspaper (very catlike), groceries, piano. Tonight at dinner, Damian started saying "Cat onna table. Cat onna piano." and so on, pointing to the furniture in question. So Dan joined in and they started reciting the book one after the other. They were both kinda cute. I think we'll either take out the book again or buy it.

Tuesday 27 June

I went on a cleaning frenzy today, organizing the bedroom closet. Damian thought this was a hoot as he waded into the piles of clothes on the floor (on their way to the washing machine). Later I spotted him putting his toys away after he finished playing with them. Following my lead?

Wednesday 28 June

Damian spotted Dante on his toy box, said "cat onna table" and climbed up next to him. They were nose to nose. Damian petted Dante, sort of. Then he pulled his tail. Kitty just circled around and plopped down with his tail out of pulling distance. I tried to explain to Damian why it wasn't a good idea to pull cats' tails. Why do I think this will be replayed tomorrow?

Damian spotted a pile of baseball caps (we have an absurd number; they're frequent end-of-show gifts) and got upset because they were out of reach. I brought them down for him and he practically danced in excitement. He adores those hats. He put one on, but over his face like a catcher's mitt, and we played "where's Damian?" Then I put one on Dante, which Damian thought was very funny. Then I put it on my head. Not as funny. Damian: "put on cat." Yes sir. I did and he enjoyed the sight until he got the notion that the hats would fit between the spokes of our Nordic Track. He was right, they did.

Thursday 29 June

I love to watch Damian get excited. He literally quivers. I thought that was a novelistic cliche but my son clenches his fists and sort of shimmys/shivers in place. I saw it this morning when we were walking out on the main drag and two fire trucks drove up and proceeded to back into their station right before our eyes. Will the excitement never end?

Dan saw the same quiver/shiver later when he brought home a new toy: a remote control Stuart Little car from Radio Shack. Damian hasn't seen the movie yet but he likes mice in books and he loves cars, especially red ones. This was his idea of heaven on earth. Christmas in June.

Damian and Dan have a new game. It's called toy truck chicken. Damian loves running his toy truck (any truck will do) along whatever serves for a track (and you'd be surprised what surfaces have doubled as tracks). Dan comes along with another toy truck and races it towards Damian's. Half the time Damian will let them ram together (Dan says "crash"!), the other half he'll lift his up at the last second (Dan says "psych!"). Tonight they were playing this in the bathtub. I heard Damian learn to say "crash!" First he said "craa", then "craasss", then finally a very distinct "crash".

At the video store tonight, Damian raced through the aisles with great glee. One patron said "adorable", another said "he's got so much energy!" (wind him up and watch him go) and the store clerk laughed and made funny faces at him. But Damian's biggest pleasure was the adult film room. Oh, not the naughty pictures on the video boxes. He didn't even notice those. But, you see, there's a swinging saloon-type half-door at the entrance to this mini red light district. And boy was that fun to swing on his way in, his way out, his way in again...

Friday 30 June

Damian pointed out a garbage truck to me this morning. "Gar-big truck." He's right, it's a big truck.

His favorite phrase right now is "look at" (sounds like "lookit"). Today he said "lookit" and then stopped. Dan said "look at what? What do you want us to look at?" Damian thought about it. "Damian," he said.

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