Wednesday, February 25, 2015


More than once on the day Elliott was born, I briefly forgot he was in the hospital room with us. He was such a peaceful presence that when we put him in his little bassinet cart for a nap now and then, I'd find myself suddenly realizing after a lapse that hey, the baby, he's here now. I recalled this with some amusement while putting him to bed tonight, on the evening of his second birthday. My placid infant has grown into a child whose presence never goes unnoticed. I have become a little worried that my descriptions of him here and on his baby book blog make him sound difficult or high-maintenance. When I say that he's stubborn, opinionated, high-spirited, physically daring, does that read as hard to handle? I hope not, because he really is wonderful and not particularly difficult. While it is true that he's much more likely to get into things than his brother was and that he has a mind and a will all his own, I do not think he's any more challenging than the average two-year-old. As my mom likes to say, he says yes as much as he says no most days, and even though his tantrums are pretty spectacular, they don't last long. He's a good boy.

He's so very different from Nico, and it's wonderful. We visited friends last fall who don't have kids, and one of them asked if I thought the boys were similar. When I said no, hardly at all, he remarked that it must suck, having just about figured out your kid and then getting a completely different version the second time around. I honestly told him, no, it's awesome. The basics of keeping the child alive and clothed are really the same, so it's not like I had to start completely from scratch, and now I get to discover a whole new parenting experience. I knew intellectually before Elliott was born that he would not be a duplicate of his brother, but in my imagination, all I could picture was a second copy of the kid I already had. He was the only child of mine I knew, so I didn't have a frame of reference to imagine anything else. But from the beginning, we could tell. This one was his own man.

We also lucked out that we have two kids who are different in so many ways but both mostly easy to raise. I won't say either is always easygoing, but neither of them have presented any challenges that are truly concerning, anything that makes me worry deep down that we're doing something wrong. They also complement each other well, and their personalities so far seem to balance out. Of course they tussle, they'll argue once Elliott has more words, they'll eventually become teenagers and briefly ruin my life, but today, I have no complaints.

Elliott at two is a big personality. He grins, he glowers, he laughs, he shrieks, he demands things and refuses other things and says no a lot (a lot). He holds his arms out and cries, "Hug! Kiss!" and just this week has said "Yuv you, Mama" while wrapping his little arms around my neck. The other night we had an entire, albeit brief, understandable conversation about what he wanted for dinner. (No blueberries, but yes strawberries. No yogurt, applesauce instead.) When thwarted, he will sometimes collapse onto the floor in abject misery. He gets over it pretty quickly. He always dumps out a toy bin instead of reaching in to pick out the thing he wants. He often dumps the bin, then looks at the pile and decides he didn't want anything out of there after all. He can assemble his zoo track by himself. He likes trains and airplanes, but also other vehicles. He carries around whichever flannel receiving blanket we give him with no preference, but loves his stuffed kangaroo best. He is learning and growing at a pace that is truly breathtaking, and even on the days when he tests me and pushes all the limits he can, I still feel that he's a wonderful gift.

Happy, happy birthday, baby Elliott. You're one of my life's best surprises.

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