In case you’re wondering, Sage, at what point I stop counting by months, the answer is: never. It’s a bit now. One of the most important rules of comedy is commit to the bit.
You, my dear child, are a talker. All the time. Ceaselessly. My parents have told me that I was this way as well, and I have days where I want to tell them “You’re welcome” and days where I want to tell them “I’m so sorry.”
That sounds worse than it should. You talk a lot, and it can be exasperating, but most of the time it is SO MUCH FUN. You have such an imagination. You tell us stories that you have made up, but that are clearly based on books we’ve read to you or TV shows you’ve seen, and often a combination of many different stories you already know. As you get older, though, you’re taking smaller and smaller bits of those stories and jumbling them all up together, which is really the basis of creativity in the first place — a new and deliberate arrangement of things already known.
Last month, I mentioned the stuffed triceratops, Zippy. Well, for a few weeks you’ve been asking us if you could take Zippy to go see “Mistah Mookie an’ da dinosohs” at the Children’s Museum. Mookie, as I sincerely hope you know at whatever point you’re reading this, is a friend of mine from ComedySportz, who runs the Dinosphere at the Children’s Museum.
Last week, I took you there. We brought Zippy. And Mr. Mookie helped us get special access so that we could touch a real triceratops skull fossil, and I took your picture in front of it with Zippy sitting on it.
You may not remember this moment, but it was pretty amazing.
Also, this past month, you got to spend a week with Grandma Max, who came out to visit and to help out while your Mom traveled to Portland, Oregon. You learned how much you liked stickers, and you got a new favorite book that we read all the time now.
All during this month, we’ve been facing a new battle: mealtime has become contentious. You will request a food that we will gladly provide for dinner, and then you will refuse to eat. You want to be bribed, cajoled, and entertained into eating, and sometimes even that won’t do it. At times, you have outright refused to eat at all, announcing that you would rather go to bed or even a timeout than have to eat. One night, we very reluctantly put you to bed after you had eaten only two small pieces of string cheese, because you insisted you weren’t hungry and you just wanted to go to bed. (You slept for about ten hours and then ate everything in the house for breakfast.)
You finished another round of swimming lessons, and you’ve told me that you’re going to teach me to swim someday, and that “you hafta wemember to just don’t be scayad of da water, okay?”
Every now and then you pop out a word that we didn’t realize you knew. While playing with toys the other day, you announced, “We must wescue him!” and I thought, okay, sure, the cartoons you watch talk about rescues sometimes. Then later, when you had to go potty, you told me to leave because “I need some pwibency.” As soon as I figured out you meant privacy, I backed out and closed the door for you.
These days, you’re crying a lot more. A lot of the time, you aren’t sure why. We know that it’s probably a combination of frustration at the limitations of your ability to communicate, PLUS the neurochemicals going off like fireworks in your brain, PLUS the fact that your brain and body are changing so rapidly that it’s just hard to deal with… all you know is that you can be so incredibly happy one moment and bawling the next.
I’m not gonna lie, Sage. This past month, you have been far more difficult to deal with than what we’re used to. Truth is, after talking with lots of other parents, we know that you’re STILL easier to deal with than the average child, but that doesn’t mean that you’re easy.
And that’s okay.
I’m hoping that when you read this, you already understand that it’s okay. That either you’re old enough to have kids of your own and you get it, or you’re not that old but you have the necessary confidence to recognize that two-year-olds are just that way sometimes. I hope that you aren’t going through the depression that I’ve gone through in the past, where I blame myself for everything and if someone acknowledges that they have been less than happy in dealing with me I hate myself for being such a drag on their life. That’s a nasty side effect of depression, and it’s insidious and wrong.
I hope that you can just laugh about being a two-year-old occasional pain in the butt, and that none of these words make you think that I ever wanted to spend one single moment less with you. If anything, I wish I could spend more time with you. There have been a few days where you’ve practically cried, asking me not to go to work, and I don’t know how to explain that work is a place so terrible that they have to pay you to do it (I wish that were an original punchline, or at least that I knew who to credit for it). I don’t know how to explain to you that if I could, I’d spend all the time with you.
On one recent night, you asked very sweetly if you could please sleep in the big bed with me and your mom. We had never really co-slept before (other than on our trip to Disney where we hadn’t intended to but you kept waking up while we were still struggling to sleep), and we gave it a shot. Your mother didn’t have a great night — you kept pushing up against her, waking her, and trying to shove her out of bed. But around four in the morning, you whispered, “Daddy, I wanna snugga wid you,” and I held you in the crook of my arm until my alarm went off around six, and occasionally during that I would wake up a tiny little bit and look at you, and you were smiling while you slept, and it was just about the best feeling in the world.
We read together. We sing songs together. We play games together. We act ridiculous together. And I love it. I love it so much.
And you have just enough of an independent streak that I really don’t know if, when you grow up, you will want to live anywhere near us or not. I moved hundreds of miles away from my parents, and it wasn’t until you came along that I started wondering if that was as difficult for them as I imagine it could be for me if you ever do that. On the other hand, if moving away meant that you were as happy with your new life as I am with mine, I can’t imagine that my missing you would trump my happiness for you.
It’s amazing the things you start to understand as you get older.
Sage… always be who you are. Always.
But just as much as that — and this is my advice for this month — figure out who you want to be. That’s so much easier to say than to do sometimes, but I’m talking about big picture stuff that you can focus on during tough times. Find the three words that describe people you admire most, and try to develop yourself into those three words. Are they generous? Kind? Wise? Happy? Helpful? Figure out those words, and then when you find yourself in a difficult time of your life, don’t just ask yourself what those people would do. Ask yourself what is the most generous/kind/wise/happy/helpful/whatever thing that you could do in that situation. I really believe that this can help guide you into being the person you want to be… and when who you are is the same as who you want to be, you’ve reached a place that most people never see.
I love you so much, Sage. Your mother and I both do. You’re just so amazing. I can’t wait until next month, when you turn thirty-six months, and I get to tell you about the new “adbentures” you’ve had.