Ethan has hit the 16 month mark, and now I’m finally starting to realize what parenting is going to involve. Patience, bribery, repetition, and persistence are a few words that come to mind after an epic battle over dinner yesterday.
I’ve long since given up on trying to avoid the word “no.”
Opening the trash can, dropping toys in the rabbit cage, opening the rabbit cage, eating poop from the rabbit cage, pulling the rabbit hay bag out of the bin and dragging it across the living room, assaulting the rabbits with his drum sticks, knocking books off my shelf, chewing on the moisturizer tube, ripping his bib off mid-meal, scattering uneaten food onto the floor: these are all worthy of a hearty “No, No.”
I try to add nuance or diversion when possible.
“Hey, where’s your elephant at?”
“I think I see a bag of blocks we can play with!”
“Let’s play with your wooden balls and platform!”
Having said all of that, it’s kind of amazing how we’ve managed to train him to do stuff now that he’s charging around the house and asserting his will.
When we need him to drop his dear lovey bunny in the crib before heading downstairs, I taught him that the bunny is parachuting down. We stand next to the crib, I shout “parachute bunny!” and he can hardly contain his excitement over dropping the lovey.
His favorite blue bunny stuffed animal can be left on the couch with zero drama if I just hold him next to it and tell him bunny needs to sit down.
Julie has worked on teaching him sign language while eating, and we’ve been working on the sign for “more,” which kind of looks like giving yourself a fist bump. Ethan’s version is clapping his hands. It works. When he wants more of anything, he starts clapping his hands, which is way cuter than him reaching and shouting “UUUUGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!”
He knows that hay belongs in the rabbit cage after working on that one for a while. I’m pretty sure he ate hay every day until that clicked for him and he started dropping it in. He has also learned that the rabbits will eat the hay if he gives it to them, so there is a pretty amazing incentive now to hand it over.
The clean up song is also a kind of magical spell that has turned putting away beloved toys into an exciting game. Mind you, we need to get him out of the room immediately before he starts decimating things again. But still, rather than prying toys out of his little hands and sending him into hysterics, he’s participating in clean up more or less.
I don’t really want to talk about what happens when we try to dress him or change his diapers.
Some “meals” leave me wondering if he actually swallowed anything, while other meals last an hour as he devours everything on his tray.
These are wild, unpredictable, exhausting days.
Some mornings start way too early, and Julie and I drag through the day. If Ethan wants to play with me, I sometimes lay on the floor next to him and let him drop stuff all over me.
Sometimes I sit down to write and my mind is a bleary blank. Where did my ideas go?
Then I hear tiny hands clapping as Ethan waddles into the room saying, “Da? Da?”
I follow him to the kitchen. He flings his body onto the fridge.
This is his new way of asking for juice. He sucks it down and then looks up to the shelf where we keep crackers. I don’t budge, waiting for the signal.
He points at the crackers, slaps his little hands together, and says, “Da!”