He baffles me.
He is like no other little boy I have ever parented or loved. And I have parented six little boys.
It doesn't make me an expert, obviously.
He is crazy independent. He has the language of a three year old, in a 14 month old body, with the head size of, well... a nine year old.
He's cute. Too cute.
And he is terribly funny. Terribly being the key word.
He knows what he wants. And refuses anything less.
Potty training for instance. He is not two yet. But is insisting that he is ready to be potty trained. I have potty trained six little boys. And at almost two, they are not ready!
Except Noah James.
He will make this face:
And then say, "I need to go pee pee!"
Which I will consistently reply with, "Then go in your diaper Noah."
Which he then follows with stripping his pants and diaper on the spot, so that if I don't take him to the potty, he will pee on everything.
And he goes in the potty, every time.
I. Am. Not. Potty. Training. Him!
And yet somehow, he is potty training me?
He is so strong and so confident.
He is so caring and loving.
He is so determined and passionate.
He sings and dances.
And refuses to eat meat.
He is the only child I have not taught to eat, and enjoy, all foods.
He is so so loud. At all times.
He refuses to go to sleep every night until around 10. And then sleeps until 8.
As the other kids get ready for bed, he blossoms. He begins dancing, and singing, and counting to forty, and helping, he will clean up the toys, and eat ALL the food I give him. He is angelic from 7 - 9pm, like no other time of the day.
He destroyed his crib. He broke it to pieces.
It was one of the nicest pieces of furniture we owned. I loved that crib. But not Noah. And so, begrudgingly we built the toddler bed. Knowing he was too young, and yet knowing he would soon die if we left him in any crib.
And so for the past three months he has been "in" a toddler bed. I use the term "in" very, very loosely.
We would find him in Tre's top bunk. We would find him reading books in the closet. We would find him "checking on Charli", we would find him in the kitchen sharing food with the dog.
We would find him at two am in the bathtub, or sliding down the stairs.
And so we were baffled, once again, with Noah James.
The crib was not safe.
And yet him wandering around our house at all hours of the night was not safe either.
Plus he was hindering everyone's REM.
So now we have him in a pack and play.
He occasionally does crawl out of it, but it is lighter than a crib, so we hope it won't squish him. And it is wedged in between a wall, his toddler bed, and a locker, so it really can't tip.
It is what we could figure out for our little rascal.
David calls him our black Dennis (the menace).
Most all of this is David's fault you know. Him and Noah have a weird bond. They are inseparable really. Today I made the mistake of loading Noah in the van and following David somewhere. It was torture, for all of us. EVERY time Noah got a glimpse of the Jeep he would scream at the top of little, and yet so powerful, lungs, "PAAAAAAAAPAAAAAAA!"
He was sure David forgot he was in the van before jumping in to a separate vehicle, if only he could grab his attention David would surely pull over and remove him from the confines of his mother's vehicle to bask in his father's presence.
When he could not see David's vehicle. He cried. He cried a loud, mourning, crocodile tear-drenched cry. That made strangers look from passing vehicles, sure I had tied a child onto my bumper or something even worse. It was horrific.
Thankfully they were reunited 3.4 miles down the road when we pulled in to Jiu Jitsu.
And so this year I am going to work on... not killing him.
Not physically killing him, geesh!
I mean, not killing his spirit. Not killing his confidence and direction.
Because I easily could.
I have a really wise friend who always told me that we often bear down so strictly on our first child that we make them these neurotic adults who seek perfection within themselves and others, and usually end up disappointed.
Luckily Noah's my fourth.
In all actuality though, I often find myself trying to live up to others people's expectations of my children. And the more I am learning (especially from this book), the more I am realizing that I know my children best. That I need to make decisions about how and why I am parenting based on my knowledge of my child. Their brain development, and their current emotional status.
And this is especially true of Noah.
I could make him behave the way other people like to see children behave.
He would be quiet in a restaurant, and not sing at the table.
He is completely capable of walking in the store and cleaning up his toys. I could make him do all those things that make children appear to be good.
But in reality I think it is much more important for me to foster in him his spirit, his confidence, his decision making ability, and the full integration of his brain, both upstairs, downstairs, and side to side.
This doesn't mean I won't make him say please and thank you, and speak respectfully. It doesn't mean he will get away with hurting his friends.
But it does mean I will let him blossom into the strong, independent, and hilarious little boy he is so quickly becoming.
So here is to letting go of other people's judgements of my parenting, to trusting my mama gut, to letting him wear (even his winter hats) backwards, and to believing he will someone day not struggle with many of the things that so many of the rest of us do. So here is to terrible two, and all that we will do!