November 2000 page 2 of 2
Thursday 16 November

It's been cold here at night, colder than I remember it being in New York at this time of year. Jacket weather. Damian, it turns out, doesn't think much of jackets. Some things are non-negotiable, though. We feel awful letting him cry, but when explaining doesn't make it better, what can you do?

As it happens, Damian stopped crying during our car ride and then was fine with his jacket. He cried and struggled again when I put it back on after dinner (we ate out -- too wiped from this cold to cook), but after a moment or so it was clear the crying was pro forma and we coaxed him to a better mood quickly. Sometimes firm boundary setting kicks in quicker than you'd think.

Dinner was fun. We sat in a half booth (long booth on one side with a mirror backing, chairs on the other). The restaurant was almost empty and when Damian was done eating, he paced up and down the booth, watching himself in the mirror and stopping periodically to make faces or stick his tongue out at himself.

Friday 17 November

We have a magnet alphabet. It resides in a container on top of the fridge. Damian requested it today (ie: pointed at it). I brought it down for him. He had a little yellow dump truck. I suggested he put the letters into the truck. He thought this was a grand idea. As he loaded up the truck, he said "I see a B, I see a T, I see a O..." Letters I didn't know he knew. Then, of course, he dumped them all out.

Saturday 18 November

Lunch and dinner out with crowds of people. Damian did well, all things considered. Got bored more than anything... At dinner, I showed him around the restaurant and brought him to a corner of the table where he could look out the window. Then he was happy. Kid needs stimulation, like we all do, but adult conversation isn't going to do it for him. Not for a long time to come.

Dan and I had an argument this evening. Damian got upset. (This may sound odd, but I'm glad he did: it shows a growing sensitivity to the people he cares about.) He led us into the hallway, sat us down next to each other with him snugly in between us. A two year old's version of peacemaker. Melts your heart.

Sunday 19 November

This morning I wanted to go to the farmer's market. Damian wanted to walk around the block. He won. I'm a pushover, what can I say? He cautiously edged past the high fence with the sound of a barking dog (needed to hold my hand for that), bounced around the corner, slipped into the fire station with wide eyes drinking it all in (though sitting in the firetruck cab was a little too overwhelming). He was unhappy we didn't stop at the 7-11 (toy trucks) but recovered quickly when we came upon his new favorite stop: two sidewalk trees surrounded by, not grass, but a pile of stones enclosed by a low wall. Joy and more joy. Run from one end to the other, sit on the ground and toss rocks, stand and put rocks on your head and let them dribble down... and of course walk on the wall, balancing like a tightrope walker.

We went to Pasadena this afternoon, wandered into a craft fair at a park. Damian loved running past the kiddie rides and down the path past the craft tents. We bought him a wooden airplane and he kept trying to sit down on the path to play with it. He'd run a few steps and then plop down: okay, now I'm ready. Finally, I found a booth where I wanted to linger and Damian got to sit on the grass and play with his new plane.

Monday 20 November

Early this morning Damian picked up a slipper, apparently wanting me to put it on his foot. As I rummaged for its mate, he started mumbling something about boots. Apparently he'd changed his mind: he wanted boots on. I obliged. He ran around for a couple of hours this morning wearing his pj's with rubber "fireman" boots.

Damian sat on my lap as Dan and I ate breakfast. He commented, more to himself than anything, something about "hot toast with peanut butter." So Dan made him some. And he ate it all up. I'm realizing that you can't always tell when he's talking to you rather than to himself. He doesn't always use the cues we expect. The words that describe his thoughts and desires are jumbled in among book quotations and labels for objects and random words. It's sometimes hard to tell the difference. So I suspect he's communicating more than we think, just in a less communicative way.

Tuesday 21 November

Damian doesn't always quite get the purpose of a fork. I showed him how to spear his wagon wheels pasta but he insisted on scooping it as if it were a spoon. Which was fine. When it worked. After a while, though, he started picking up the pasta, placing it on the fork, and guiding it to his mouth. If it fell into his lap (at least half the time), he put it back on the fork rather than into his mouth. I was amused.

Wednesday 22 November

After going to bed at 11pm, Damian woke up at five a.m.. Ugh. He took a TEN MINUTE nap at 9:30 am and didn't go down for a real nap until 2:30 pm. We went out to lunch with my cousin Rob, who was in town for a few days. Damian sat on Dan's lap and looked completely stoned. His sleep has gone to hell the past couple of weeks. I have no idea what's going on.

His current favorite game: "climb" up the cat tree (with plenty of help because the "branches" are too far apart to actually climb) and sit on top (over six feet up), then JUMP into Mommy's/Daddy's/Jami's arms with glee. Repeat a dozen times.

Thursday 23 November

Damian got restless while we were making dinner, kept wanting to get into trouble, so Dan told Damian he'd put him in the high chair so he could see what we were doing. Damian made a beeline for the high chair. Dan set it up by the counter and then the stove, and told Damian everything he was doing. The Food Channel for Toddlers. Damian was transfixed. I gave him a basket of raspberries to snack on while he watched. He commented "lots of tiny raspberries." (A current library book, Peeping and Sleeping, has the line "lots of tiny frogs.")

After dinner, Dan settled in the bedroom and I was in the living room. Damian touched base with me and then ran to the bedroom, touched base with Daddy, ran back to me... at least six or seven times, maybe more. He thought this was very amusing.

Later he picked up the computer mouse and held it to his ear, started talking into it.

Friday 24 November

A big milestone today: Damian's first haircut. We went to a kiddie salon in Santa Monica. Dan held him in his lap and read to him. Good thing, too. Damian was very unhappy about the process. Freaked when the hairdresser tried to put a smock over his clothes (we said no, don't try) and got scared as she spritzed his hair preparatory to the cutting. He was basically okay about the actual snipping. Afterwards they took a polaroid of him in a big toy car. He looked spooked but he recovered quickly. We kept a few locks. His hair is shockingly short now. I'm having trouble getting used to it. Dan thinks it makes him look older but I think it emphasizes his round cheeks. I miss his long bangs, but they were starting to get in his eyes and his hair looked mussed all the time. A necessary thing, but sad nevertheless.

Afterwards (as a sort of reward for surviving the haircut torture), we brought Damian to an indoor kid gym called Bright Child. It's very cool but hard to describe. You go up fabric steps into this sort of vertical maze, with enclosed slides going down in winding helix formation, plus sliding ropes overhead to grab onto so you can play Tarzan, and tunnels going from section to section and lots of dead ends with mesh walls so you can look down on the activities below. Plus an art area, a basketball court, a big aquarium, and a couple of ball pits. Damian liked climbing up into the maze but got a little overwhelmed, I think. He liked the ball pits best, though. Loved sitting there tossing balls. He got bolder after a while and sort of swam/crawled around, flopping onto my chest (I had flopped down in the pit -- very relaxing) and then rolling off. He was sad to leave. I don't blame him. It's a kid paradise.

Saturday 25 November

We had a couple of MayKids and their parents over this morning. I was worried; it's been quite a while since Damian had other kids in his house. But he did great, completely nonchalant about James and Francis playing with his toys. At first he kept to himself, playing in the same room but keeping his distance, even turning his back, but he warmed up after a while and became far more interested in the other boys. At one point, James closed himself between the door and the screen door. James looked into the room through the oval window in the door. Damian came over and put his face up to the door, looking out at James. Damian put his hand up to draw James' attention. James responded. They looked like they were having fun. Later Francis started playing the piano down at the low notes. Damian joined him in a duet, taking the high keys.

Tonight Dan and I were hanging out in the bathroom while Damian took his bath. Damian pointed at Dan with a sneaky smile on his face and said "mommy. Then he pointed at me and said "daddy." Tot humor.

Sunday 26 November

The past few weeks, when Damian wakes up in the middle of the night, Dan's been getting up and rocking him to sleep, then bringing him in to sleep with us for the rest of the night. Damian's waking almost every night, so this is a major chore. Last night Dan was wiped out, so when Damian woke up at 4 a.m., I got up to rock him. Thing is, I have very limited patience for rocking in the middle of the night, plus I have some physical (bladder-related) problems that make it uncomfortable. After maybe fifteen minutes, Damian wasn't asleep but I had to stop. Before I stopped, I told Damian he shouldn't need to be rocked all the time, that he's old enough to be able to just lie down with us and fall asleep... Stuff like that. Not in an angry way, more like gently informing him of what needs to change. Then I brought him to bed and put him down, lying down next to him. He popped up immediately, fussing. I told him again that I couldn't rock him anymore and that he needs to be able to lie down and fall asleep without rocking. He lay down next to me. I cuddled him close against me and breathed into his hair. He was asleep in minutes.

We've stopped playing the "help Damian climb into the cat tree and catch him when he jumps out" game after a scary but not harmful accident. Damian is less than pleased with the prohibition. This afternoon he got very upset. Much crying. I tried to explain it to him but his tears didn't stop. But then he did something interesting. He took my hand and led me to his bedroom door. He wanted me to rock him. He knew he was having a meltdown because he was tired and that he needed a nap. So I rocked him (daytime is usually ok for me). He quieted instantly and fell asleep in short order.

Tonight we were all hanging out in the living room. Damian started pinching the bridge of his nose and blowing out. Practicing for his next cold? We commented on what he was up to. He informed us, "I am a big boy." Guess big boys blow their noses. Actually, I think I've told him this. I guess he remembered.

Monday 27 November

Damian has suddenly become Climbing Boy. He's living up to his nickname of Monkey. He tries to climb the ironwork curves in the headboard of our bed, he climbs the back of the couch. You name it, he climbs it. It came on all of a sudden, too. He's getting more boo-boos as a result, but I'm glad to see him becoming more fearless.

Tuesday 28 November

The tree out front is dropping brown leaves with a vengeance. Who says we don't have fall? (Well, yes, it was 75 degrees this afternoon. Why do you ask?) Damian loves to go out there and rake. Or shovel. Or sweep. Whatever implement is closest to hand.

This kid loves tofu. My extraordinarily picky eater adores tofu. Go figure.

Wednesday 29 November

After a restless night (Damian came to bed at four a.m. and wiggled and kicked the rest of the night) and a far too early morning waking (he seems to want to get horizontal on the bed at the tail end of sleep, only I'm in the way so he tries to shove me out of bed with his feet), I was none too keen on getting out of bed. Our recent ritual has involved cuddling together on the couch and maybe watching TV together. Damian wanted me to get with the program.

I told him he could lie down between Mommy and Daddy if he wanted to snuggle or he could go play with his toys and books and I'd be happy to put a video on for him, but I was not getting up with him. Boy was he mad. This Would Not Do. I was firm. He was firm. Stalemate. Dan and I lay there with Damian pacing the length of the bed in incredible frustration.

I finally got up, changed his diaper/clothes, and put on a video. I then went back to bed just like I said I would. He was mad again. Only thing is, he really wanted to see the video (Baby Songs). So he quieted to watch for a while. After fifteen minutes, he came back to the bedroom crying again. Apparently that was a missable song. But as soon as the next segment came on, Damian ran back to the living room to watch. Quiet and even happy. The power of a good show. At the end of the video, I came out to the living room. I felt like I'd made my point. I want to give to him, I do, but I also don't want to take from myself. I can't be a martyr, and he has to learn that sometime I have needs that conflict with his desires.

Complete exhaustion aside, we had a good morning together. I brought out two slices of toast to share. Damian saw them and commented, "Mommy making bread." Which in fact I did, yesterday, and these were from the new loaf.

We went to the mall to pick up a few things. First stop, buy a new flashlight to replace the one Damian's lost. He found a bigger version of the same one and fell in love in an instant. I bought it for him, put the batteries in, turned it on. I said, "It's a big flashlight." He said, "A little moon."

I bought him some slippers at Baby Gap. He's boycotting the four dollar ones we bought at Target. I don't blame him. They've stretched out of all relation to actual shoes. So after we got home I tried to suggest he put on his new slippers. No go. After Jami left this evening, I tried again. No go. Then I realized. "Damian, look at these great new small boots I got you." Boots? Mommy got me boots? Like my rubber fireman boots? He acquiesced happily to my putting his new "boots" on. He put his foot up to examine the shape of the "boot." He likes them. Hee.

Thursday 30 November

I think Damian's on to us. When Jami referred to his small boots, he told her they were slippers. Oh well. At least he still likes wearing them.

Something about yesterday morning, or maybe the warmer pjs, but Damian slept through the night in his own bed. Joy. He woke up happy, I heard him chattering to himself on the monitor and went in to snuggle and hang out. He was happy to lie next to me, cuddling -- and roll around -- and sit up -- and lie down again. Chattering the whole time.

Major boundary testing lately on our walks. He loves to throw dirt and rocks. Most of the time, the dirt is highly suspect so I say no. And if he finds a gravel path or rock bed around trees, that's fine as long as he keeps the rock toss to the rocky area. Which he never does. And then I scold him, and he obeys, and then he drifts back out to the sidewalk... he does the same thing in his bath, squirting water outside the tub. It's such a literal boundary testing: testing the physical definition of the boundary we've just set.

Another boundary test of a sort: Damian took a trade paperback from the bed and skipped it down the hall like it was a frisbee. He was delighted. Dan started telling him he needed to respect books and why. Damian casually said "no tossing." Yeah, he knew damned well what he was doing and that he wasn't supposed to do it.

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