We’ve moved from walking to trotting, from words to sentences. The inevitable march toward independence.
I knew we were in trouble when the first fully-formed, grammatically-correct sentence I heard was “No, I’m not going to sleep.” This, from the kid who spent the first year of his life living that mantra if not saying it, so directly, to our faces.
I had bedtime duties that night and Declan was in my arms and I was trying to quietly and gently transition him from book time to crib time. He was chattering loudly and I said something like “it’s time for sleep” and he said, with the same hesitation a tiger shows in attacking its prey, “No, I’m not going to sleep.” And I didn’t really know what to say. Part of me was taken aback by the directness. Part of me was impressed with the full sentence. And in the swirl of it all, I kind of forgot who was in charge, so I responded by saying, “Oh…uh, what are you going to do?”
“GO PLAY TRAINS!” is the response I got, and at full volume, too, making it abundantly clear that the effort of the past 30 minutes to create a calm and quiet environment that would lend itself to a quick and painless bedtime was all in vain.
Other kids climb up lamps and jump off chandeliers. Declan focused on vocabulary. And as a result, he is like a four-year old in an 18-month old’s body. Or at least that’s what I got from our two-year check-up with the pediatrician. Here are a few of his current favorite declarations:
“Want to wake up, go play trains!”
Self-explanatory. This is one of the first things we hear every morning, along with tortured cries of “Mommmmmmmmmmeeeee” and “Daaaaaad” when we don’t respond quickly enough.
“I want crackers.”
I hear this in the morning, too. He is convinced crackers are a breakfast food. This sentence construction can apply to other objects of his desire (mostly carb-related) and increasingly the word “want” is being replaced by the much stronger (and hyperbolic) “need.” What’s important is that he has clear visions for his day, and his communication skills make it hard for us to feign ignorance. Other writers have brilliantly explained the circular conversations one tends to have with a child so I won’t dwell. But when it comes to Declan’s cravings for crackers, the verbal sparring between us is Sorkinian in its use of repetition, and Darwinian in that I wish he would just evolve. One of the these days I’ll count all the different ways I’ve told him that crackers aren’t a breakfast food. Actually, forget it. I already know. It’s one. I just say “crackers aren’t a breakfast food” over and over hoping he’ll either get the message or lose interest in our conversation and move on.
“I did it!”
This is one of my favorites. Declared with increasing frequency at the breakfast table after he successfully stabs his food with a fork, moves said fork to his mouth without spilling, and then raises his fork triumphantly in the air like a gladiator in the arena. I may have encouraged this flourish in an attempt to get him to try utensils instead of eating only with his hands. Regardless, it amuses me. He is genuinely proud.
“I love you, Dad.”
Within the last week, this sentence. No words.