“Do you love me more than a chocolate cupcake with sprinkles?” More brilliant chat with a little human.

“You’re my little Grandma.”

“I know I am. I’m a very small person and now you’re almost as big as I am.”

“Let’s compare hands, little Grandma!”

“OH MY GAWD, Grandma. My hand is almost as big as yours now!”

“I know, T, remember I told you that you are growing and growing every day and I stay the same size?”

“You’re my old little Grandma.”

*Yes, I am. (Lolz.)*

“Grandma, can you carry me?”

“I don’t think I can do that anymore, but let me try. You are so tall and SO heavy. I can pick you up, but I can’t carry you now. Daddy will carry you if you’re tired.”

“Daddy, Grandma cut triangles and hearts and circles and squares and I glued them to a piece of paper. Do you wanna see? Grandma said that’s one of the things I’ll do when I go to Kindergarten.”

“Grandma, did your little boy Daddy do that too? Did he like to glue shapes? Did he like to read? Did he like to watch Sesame Street? My Daddy is your little boy, right, Grandma? But he’s a man so how can he be your little boy? He’s big. My Daddy is so big. He’s bigger than you, little Grandma.”

“If there’s no gravity in space, how did the astronauts not float away when they were on the moon?”

What a great and thoughtful question, T. Let’s research it and find the answer.”

“Grandma? Do you love me more than a chocolate cupcakes with sprinkles?”

“Hmm, that’s a really tough one, buddy. I do love chocolate a LOT. Let me think about it. Well, the answer is yes, I love you more than a chocolate cupcake with sprinkles.”

“Do you love me more than seashells and rocks?”

“Oh NO, that’s going to be so hard. Let me give it some thought.  *Sigh*. You definitely know how much I love seashells and rocks, but I love you so much MORE.”

This went on for the longest time until he was completely assured that I love him more than ANYTHING IN THE WHOLE WORLD.

This brilliant not-so-little-human.

IMG_9539

 

“I swear, Grandma!” More chat with the world’s most brilliant human

IMG_1013

Four going on thirteen. That’s Angel Boy 2.0.

I have no idea where he gets that precocious attitude. Well, yes I do, but that’s another story.

Since the pandemic has eliminated all of our in-person visits, T-boy and I have been chatting on the phone a lot, sometimes several times a day.

If he sees my favorite breed of dog walk by his house, he likes to call me and say, “Grandma, I just saw a Border Collie, you love Border Collies, don’t you?”

Or he’ll call and flip the camera around to show me his weather, “It’s supposed to rain today but right now there’s some blue sky and clouds.” “What’s your weather like today at your house, Grandma?”

He likes to call me after dinner when Mom is giving baby a bath and putting her to bed and before his bath and bed routine. Dad is usually working in the garden and I’ll get a call.

“Hello, my special friend! How was your day? ”

“GOOOD. I’m outside with Daddy. You know what, Grandma? I had to call you. I swear. Daddy went on a skateboard and didn’t wear his helmet again. I swear. I told Daddy you want him to wear his helmet but he doesn’t. He wears it on his bicycle but not when he’s skating with me. I wear my helmet, Grandma.”

“Thank you for telling me about Daddy. And I’m so proud of you for making good choices and wearing YOUR helmet. Well done!”

“Thank you.”

“Let me talk to Daddy, OK?”

“OK, Grandma.”

And then I hear…

“Dad? Daddy? Jay? Jas? JASON NATHANIEL!! Grandma wants to talk with you. I told her about the helmet situation.”

It cracks me up every single time I hear T call his daddy by his other names using the same exact inflection that he’s heard. Pretty adorable.

“Oh you did, huh? Hello, Grandma.” Says the original boy who stole my heart so many years ago.

“DADDY, I was just informed that you are still not wearing your helmet when you skate with T. You do not need to be told about traumatic brain injuries, you know all about that. Who will take care of your babies when you are incapacitated?”

“Geez, he’s a tattletale haha. I wear it sometimes.”

“Dad, did you hear what Grandma said?”

“Hey, T, I have an idea. Tell Daddy that I won’t allow him to go surfing the next time you guys come to visit if he doesn’t make good choices and wear his helmet.”

I hear him yelling at the top of his lungs, “DAD! GRANDMA SAID YOU CAN’T GO SURFING IF YOU DON’T WEAR YOUR HELMET!”

Then I hear Dad, “OK, tell Grandma I will.”

“Grandma, did you hear that? Daddy said he would wear his helmet.”

“Awesome job, T. We love Daddy and we want him to be safe just like we want you to be safe, right?”

“Right, Grandma. Hey, look at me jump! Grandma, I can jump so high! Grandma, did you send me a box of presents? Did you send The Borrowers Aloft?”

“I did, you’ll get the box in a couple of days.”

“DAD!!! JAY!!! I swear, I told you Grandma sent the second Borrower’s book! I knew she did. I told you not to buy it, I remember Grandma said she was going to send it.”

“OK Grandma, I’m going to go now. I’m going to have a bath. High five, Grandma.”

He likes to “high five” the phone.

“Bye, T. I love you.”

“Bye Grandma, love you, too. I’m going to hit the red button now.”

And he’s gone.

 

 

 

More chat with my brilliant human…”You love coyote poo, don’t you, Grandma?”

“You love coyote poo, don’t you, Grandma?”

Those words warm every part of my heart.

“Yes, I do, Angel Boy! I love it so much when I see coyote poo on a hiking trail. It makes me very happy. Sometimes animal poo is called scat [spelling it for him], S-C-A-T.”

“I love coyotes too, Grandma. I’m just like you.”

“You love love planting in the garden, don’t you, Grandma?”

“I do very much, you’re right!”

“I love to garden too, I help Daddy in our garden at home.”

“I know you do, buddy. You’re a big helper.”

“You love your bunny slippers, don’t you, Grandma?”

“Yes, they are my 100% favorites.”

“I love them, too, Grandma. See, I’m wearing your bunnies! My feet are as big as yours.”

“We are a lot alike, aren’t we? We like many of the same things and that is so cool.”

“Do you love Spiderman, Grandma?”

“Well, I can say that I LIKE him, but I don’t really love him.”

Jumping up and down while showing me his new Spiderman…”I do, I do, I do. I love love love Spiderman.”

“Sometimes we can like different things and that’s OK, too, because you are your own person and so am I, right, T-man?”

“I can’t wait to see you, Grandma.”

“See, now we’re exactly the same. I can’t wait to see you, too!”

“Can I push the red button now, Daddy?”

And then, just like that, he’s gone.

Our light, bright vision of magic.

Brilliant nonstop chat and research with the most interesting human on planet Earth

Every day starts at around 5:45 a.m. It’s nonstop talking unless he’s eating or sleeping.

“Grandma?” Which really sounds more like “Grand-maw” if you’re sounding it out.

“I’m hungry. Let’s go in the kitchen and I’ll sit on the big stool and watch you make my breakfast.”

Grandma? Why is it still dark out? Why do you love seashells so much? Can I have this rock? Why do you cut up my apple like that? Why do you make me oatmeal? Why is the stove hot? I burned myself one time and Mommy put ice on it. Why do you put cinnamon in it? I wish I was in a rocket ship and could fly off to space.I didn’t wet my bed last night. I’m wearing my Batman undies. Look, Grandma, look at me. Why do you love me so much? I’m your first little boy, Daddy is your second little boy. Right, Grandma? Right? Grandma, are you making coffee now? Why do you do that? That’s the same kind of coffee you get at MY house. We have a Trader Joe’s there, too. Is this safe, Grandma? (As he jumps from the chair to the sofa, and back.)

“Be ever so careful, my favorite boy!”

Silence as he’s eating his breakfast. But not for long…

“I’m really smart, ammnt I, Grandma?”

“Grandma?”

“Yes, T?”
“Is that a TV screen? I only get to watch it for special. When do you watch it, Grandma? Why are you so small, Grandma? Daddy’s big and you’re small. You’re my little Grandma. I’m going to be bigger than my Daddy soon. Like when I’m six or twelve. I will, I really will. I’m not kidding. For reals. My Dad is SO strong, right, Grandma? Why did your little boy grow up, Grandma?

That one got me.
“Hmmm”, I said.
“I think about that too, T. Sometimes I wish Daddy was still a little boy and then I think that he grew up so he could have a little boy like you and make me so happy. What do you think?”

“I think….I think that I want a breakfast burrito now. I’m still hungry.”

Yup, he’s his Daddy’s little boy, that’s for sure. No doubt about it.

The questions have been coming fast and furious as soon as he turned three.

It started with ” where do sloths live?” and I said, “Let’s go to the library tomorrow and do some research.”

The next day we went to the library and checked out a few book about sloths.

After that it was “let’s do research” about everything that had been cooking in his brilliant little mind.

“I love the solar system, my favorite planet is Neptune, I love Neptune because it has rings. We live on planet Earth. I want to know about astronauts.”

Another trip to the library; more books. When he learned that astronauts wear diapers in space, he had to repeat that fact at least a hundred times.

“What happened to dinosaurs?” “Why aren’t there dinosaurs anymore? Why are they only in museums? Why are they just skeletons now?”

“What’s lightening?”
“How does electricity work?”
“How does a volcano erupt?”
“How do bees make honey?”

That question couldn’t be answered very easily with a book, so we did something really special: computer research. We found a video that explained it in a way a toddler could understand. I have to admit that I didn’t know exactly how bees made honey and what we learned made me appreciate the importance of bees even more than I did before. For example, did you know that forager bees have two stomachs, one just to capture the pollen that will eventually turn into honey? Or that some of the jobs that other bees in the colony have is to vomit the contents of their stomach into a succession of about twenty other bees’ stomachs so that certain chemical changes can take place? Or that all the bees work together to flap their wings and evaporate the liquid when first placed in the comb and that when the liquid becomes thickened—well, that’s the end product—honey. In order to produce just one pound of honey, 2 million flowers must be visited. A hive of bees must fly 55,000 miles to produce a pound of honey. One bee colony can produce 60 to 100 pounds of honey per year. An average worker bee makes only about 1/12 teaspoon of honey in its lifetime. I’m THIS MANY YEARS old and never knew all of that. It took a brilliant 3.5 year old child to teach me!

Finally, my very observant little grandson said this…
“Why don’t you eat meat, Grandma?”
When I gave him a simple answer about how I love animals and don’t like to eat them, he said he didn’t like to eat animals either. His mom told me that later that afternoon, he asked her why Grandma doesn’t like to eat animals.

I’m so grateful to be able to generate a thought process like that. We are in desperate need of his generation to make the world a better place. Kinder, more compassionate. More empathy for all living creatures with whom we co-exist on this planet and learn to become better stewards of our oceans and the air we all breathe.

He’s so adorably exuberantly awkward in his joie de vivre. But me? I’m beyond exhausted with so much to be grateful for this Thanksgiving.

Inside camping nap because it’s so rainy today.

Conversations with a human #578. Chicken Butts.

My little three-year-old guy, the one I refer to as Angel Boy 2.0, needed to tell me something so he grabbed the phone away from his dad.

“Dad, I need to tell Grandma something right now.”

“What is it, T-man?”

“No, I’ll tell her. Give me the phone.”

“Grandma, look! My dad made a work space in the garage!”

“Wow, that’s pretty awesome, are you helping him?”

“I have my own tools, Dad’s are really really sharp. See?”

“Grandma! I’m coming to your house next Wednesday!”

“That’s right, T! Good job remembering the days of the week.”

“Theosaurus, I need to ask you a very important question, OK? Can you listen really hard?”

“OK Grandma.”

“Do you have anything special you want me to bake or make for you and Daddy to eat when you come? Muffins or dinner or anything you choose.”

I thought he’d choose oatmeal cookies or apple pie or a blueberry cake, but I wasn’t ready for what he said next…

“Hmmm. Let me think. Grandma? Can you make chicken butts?”

“Uh, how do you make chicken butts?”

“You do something and then put them in the oven and then they’re chicken butts.”

“No, T, I will not make chicken butts. Not ever. Choose something else, please!”

“Can you make popsicles?”

“Yes. I can make popsicles but I will not make chicken butts.”

“OK Grandma. Can I press the red button now?”

“Yes, T and then take the phone back to Daddy. See you soon! Bye.”

Chicken butts. Nope. Just nope.

He’ll have to be happy with an apple pie.


More brilliant convo with a human

Angel Boy 2.0 had a cold so he stayed home from preschool.

“I’m a little snotty today, Grandma!”
He was feeling much better after a long morning nap. We were in the living room looking at the windy day while he enjoyed a protein smoothie popsicle (see recipe below).

For the past couple of days, we had noticed a big truck parked in front of his house, taking up more than its fair share of the street. No one knew who it belonged to but we speculated that it possibly was a contractor’s vehicle working at a neighbor’s house.

Recently, Theo has been noticing different cars and trucks and asking for them to be identified. “I said, that’s a Dodge Ram truck. He is so rude to park there every day. He needs to park somewhere else.”

Theo repeated, “Yeah, he needs to park somewhere else. He’s so RUDE.”

All day long we would check to see if the truck was still there and it was, so it became an ongoing joke about how RUDE it was to park in front of Theo’s house so there wasn’t enough room for HIS car.

At dinnertime, we were sharing interesting stories about our day and in a moment of silence, Theo said, “Mommy and Daddy, that Dodge Ram truck is so RUDE!”

There was such a shocked expression on Mom and Dad’s faces, I really wish I had a photo to capture it because this is what it SOUNDED like Theo said…

That goddamn fuck is so RUDE!”

Dodge Ram truck = goddam fuck —a very expressive three-year-old with a mouth stuffed full of lasagna and a stuffy nose.

For a brief moment, I had a feeling they thought I had taught him how to swear like a merchant mariner. However, when I hastened to translate, we couldn’t stop laughing.

Until the mysterious man drove away, Theo kept saying, “He’s so RUDE with his Dodge Ram truck!”

Just another brilliant slice of conversation with this always enchanting human.

____________________________________________________________________

Fruit and Protein Smoothie Popsicles

Cherries (any frozen or fresh fruit)
Banana – one
100% fruit juice — 8oz
Kale and/or spinach — handful
Vegan Protein Powder–one scoop
Cinnamon to taste

Combine kale and juice. Blend until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and blend to desired thickness. Pour into popsicle freezer containers, the ones with the little sticks. Freeze until firm.They are so healthy and delicious!

(Another) conversation with a human: “Who Misses You?”

Chatting at the table after a yummy and healthy dinner of salad from the garden, veggie kale tofu pie, and blueberry cobbler… my little guy said, “I missed you, Grandma.”

“I missed you too, Theo-saurus”

“That’s not my name. I’m a dimedatron.”

“Ok. I missed you too, Mr. Dimedatron.

“I missed you so much, Grandma. All the time.”

After another bite of blueberry cobbler,

“Why do you go away? I want you here forever and ever!”

“But I go home because that’s where my house is. I come to visit you and Mommy and Daddy and then I go home. But I’m here now, right?”

{Thinking for a minute. Pondering…}

“Grandma?”

“Yes, Mr. Dimedatron?”

“When you’re here at Theo’s house, who misses you from your house?”

Awkward silence around the dinner table. We all looked at each other.

What do I say? The sad truth is that no one misses me. No one at all.

So I replied…

“The coyote and the bunnies and the birds and the lizards miss me very much.”

And that satisfied him. For now. He has more compassion and empathy in his little three-year-old body than most adults.

No one misses me when I go away.

Harsh tragic truth.

A totally full moon post.

Glass half full.

Planet Theo

“I will keep YOU safe, Grandma!” as he runs across the lawn and jumps in my outstretched arms.

“I will keep YOU safe, Theo-saurus!” “We’ll be safe together, how does that sound?”

And we laugh at our little joke, over and over again pretending to be afraid of the remote control dinosaur, a gift from Grandpa for his third birthday.

“I like it when T-Rex dances, but I SORTA don’t like it when he roars!”

“Are you afraid of him, Theo?”

“Not really, Grandma. He’s not scary to me. Well, at first, I was a little bit afraid, but not anymore.”

“Me neither, T.” I said, to affirm his bravery and courage in overcoming his fear of a twenty-four-inch tall walking, roaring, dancing Tyrannosaurus Rex.

******

I’ve delayed for almost a week writing my observations of the arraignment last week of the  suspects arrested in the murder of a local woman.

In my dreams, I can still see the faces of those two monsters charged with stabbing her more than fifty times in the face and head.

As a diversion, I’d rather focus on something beautiful and positive, just a brief respite from the reality of dark and disturbed people who made a decision that seems so senseless; so cruel.

Back to Planet Theo…

The world really does revolve around him, and like most toddlers, this is an important developmental milestone.

The normal human brain is designed by evolution to generate the egocentric illusion: the illusion that the owner of a particular brain is the center of the universe.

Egocentrism refers to the child’s inability to see a situation from another person’s point of view.

Reading about this reminds me of the time I spent post-BA when I was in the teacher training program at university and we studied this fascinating subject.

According to Jean Piaget, the Swiss biologist and psychologist, the egocentric child assumes that other people see, hear, and feel exactly the same as the child does

SENSORIMOTOR STAGE (BIRTH TO 2 YEARS OLD)

The infant builds an understanding of himself or herself and reality (and how things work) through interactions with the environment. It is able to differentiate between itself and other objects. Learning takes place via assimilation (the organization of information and absorbing it into existing schema) and accommodation (when an object cannot be assimilated and the schemata have to be modified to include the object.

PREOPERATIONAL STAGE (AGES 2 TO 4)

The child is not yet able to conceptualize abstractly and needs concrete physical situations. Objects are classified in simple ways, especially by important features.

CONCRETE OPERATIONS (AGES 7 TO 11)

As physical experience accumulates, accommodation is increased. The child begins to think abstractly and conceptualize, creating logical structures that explain his or her physical experiences.

FORMAL OPERATIONS (BEGINNING AT AGES 11 TO 15)

Cognition reaches its final form. By this stage, the person no longer requires concrete objects to make rational judgements. He or she is capable of deductive and hypothetical reasoning. His or her ability for abstract thinking is very similar to an adult. (https://www.learning-theories.com/piagets-stage-theory-of-cognitive-development.html)

As we grow from children to adults, we first separate and then individuate from our family of origin. Separation entails moving away, starting a career, and setting up a home. Individuation is the process by which we grow into our own authentic self. Individuation is detached observation of the behaviors and beliefs we learned as children.(https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-24867/the-single-most-destructive-factor-in-your-search-for-real-love.html

Most of us move through these stages as we get older; our brains grow, we individuate, we see ourselves as part of the whole, each piece synergistically interacting with others; we learn empathy. Some do not. Those with personality and/or character disorders become stuck somewhere in the early stages of development and never truly individuate.

Genetics and environment both seem to play a part in preventing certain children from growing or developing properly, hindering and sometimes even completely inhibiting the ability to maintain healthy adult relationship connections.

That’s why it’s vitally important to educate ourselves about how the brain works, how emotions develop, how play and make believe are critical building blocks to lay a sturdy foundation of trust, love, and safe boundaries.

OK, off my soapbox for now. Happy 3rd birthday to the one and only Theo-saurus and happy birthday to Daddy too, Here’s the post about his birth, thirty-eight years ago. I am so proud of the man he’s become. And soon to be daddy to #2, the princess of all princesses. I’m already drooling over frilly pink dresses and pink blankets.

img_7018

We went camping in the Anza Borrego desert to see the full moon. That’s the Sawtooth Mountains.

I don’t have many pics ‘cos I was too busy trying to keep up with Planet Theo. We saw California Quail, bunnies, and heard coyotes. Life is GOOD.

img_7016

At Agua Caliente County Park and Hot Springs.
Just a daddy and his sun son. Keeping him safe. Forever and ever.
My heart is overflowing. (And I’m EXHAUSTED lol)
Back home and one final surf sesh.
img_6995

Conversations with a special human

Running joke between us…

“Hey Theo-saurus, what’s my favorite color?”

*Giggling*

“Grandma, you’re silly; your favorite color is… ME!”

“That’s right, buddy, and what’s YOUR favorite color?”

“It’s…YOU, Grandma!” Jumping up and down, he adds, “And purple!”

No wonder I’d rather chat with him than most adults I know.

This brilliant, beautiful, funny little boy human will soon be three-years-old.

He is a force unto himself.

Up until this dervish was born, my son was the most amazing child ever created.

img_1458.jpg

I know, I know. That HAIR.

But no longer.

Theo sees the world in his own way.

Along with Dad’s favorite teddy bear, still for just a brief moment, contemplating cloud formations.

IMG_6546

Recent chat…

“Hey Theo, do you want another veggie burger snack before dinner?”

“I’m done with veggie burgers for today,”

IMG_6812

Time to put out fires and rescue dinosaurs. And Peppa Pig.

Look at this fashionable hipster boy in his fave hat wearing one of his many dinosaur shirts. We were at music class and he hoarded all of the purple shaky eggs.
Yes, purple really is HIS color.

And yes, he makes all of his daily fashion choices. He started picking out what he’ll wear the night before…definitely MY grandson and my genes.

IMG_6843

Listening to the beat of his own drum…actually patiently (bored) waiting for the class to be over so he could play Teacher Blake’s big drums, a special treat ONLY for this little music man.

img_6846

“Grandma, why do you have to go home?”

“So I can get your bedroom all ready for you with dinosaur sheets and make your blue dinosaur cake for your birthday and for Daddy’s birthday party. And to check on the bunnies and the coyotes in the garden…”

“But I love you. I don’t want you to go. I want you to stay forever and ever.”

STOP. MY. HEART.

One of those exquisite moments in time that make being alive and breathing the very best thing of all. That can erase any sadness or sorrow or pain.

But I love you.”

So I replied, “I love you too, Mr. T, and can’t wait to see you! Let’s think about all the fun things we’ll do. We can walk to the park and see the big turtle and go camping and hiking and bake cinnamon rolls, too. What else do you want to do?”

“I want to wake you up in the morning and say, Grandma! Wake up and make me oatmeal!”

“You can do that for sure. And we will have so much FUN, right?”

Daddy’s mini-me. Two curly boys.

IMG_6820

And soon he’ll be big brother to a little Princess!

OMG, you know she will be the best dressed little girl in the whole world.
Finally, someone I can share my love for all that is Hello Kitty and pink and frilly and fluffy so we can twirl together.

Thinking out loud here. Do you think Chanel does a line of children’s clothing?

I.CANNOT.WAIT.

 

 

 

21 Months: Toddler Time

Lucky lucky me got to spend another week with Angel Boy 2.0.

AB 1.0 asked me to bring some of his favorite childhood Christmas tree ornaments that his grandma and I had collected over the years so they could continue the tradition.

We brought home a seven-foot Noble fir and spent my first night decorating the tree with Theo. It took a while, but he finally understood the concept of leaving the ornaments ON the tree and not pulling them off and throwing them like a major league pitcher.

Although it had been raining for a few days, while I was there, the weather was beautiful but FREEZING, at least for this SoCal girl. I was wearing about a dozen layers, perfectly suited for Pacific Northwest arctic temps.

The next morning Mr. T and I went on a walk to the marina. He was all bundled up and you can see the snow on the Olympic mountains in the background.

B039A72B-F9FE-4029-8A17-8C5F774D3CC462F33226-5031-43D3-B254-9A39B15D69A1CC4686B1-CE4F-40E8-B342-55BDDDD473DB

On the way to Ballard Locks.64F334D4-FE48-441F-9658-D72E7951B705

After a power nap, Theo and I made a pizza, helping me roll out the dough and scattering sliced zucchini, green peppers, and broccoli over tomato sauce.  With lentil soup, it was a perfect winter lunch.

For some reason, I became his sole choice for ALL diaper changes…AmmahAmmah had to do them all, and there were NO complaints from mom or dad. Besotted as I am with this little human, even THAT melted my heart and I gladly complied with his request.

These moments are so fleeting – one minute you’re changing a diaper and the next you’re sending them off to college. I learned a long time ago with the original Angel Boy to appreciate each and every detail along the journey. Even diaper changes. Yes, even that.

When he was here for Thanksgiving and we walked to the park and he was kinda balky, I created the game of “Puppy” with each of us holding something (or a pretend something) as a leash to encourage him to keep moving, and he remembered (!) which meant there was lots of puppy play and kitty play. And tea parties.

Yes, I am the ULTIMATE playmate. Laser focused attention. HEAVEN. BLISSFUL. JOY.

EF00EA0F-55A4-43BB-9777-2D1BEB561D83As the sun set in the evening, he’d choose a few books and we’d snuggle on the sofa and wind down with Peppa the Pig or Postman Pat or his new Hannukah book or my favorite ones about animals.

He’s memorized so many stories that have already been read to him a billion times.

It’s an important interactive pre-reading experience.

To engage a bright young mind with a lifelong love of learning and reading is a goal we all share.

One of those priceless moments I’ll forever savor and never forget is the heavy weight of a perfectly relaxed little boy nestled in the curve of my protective arm, feeling his excitement as he points to the picture of a wolf when prompted and howls when asked, “what does a wolf say?”

The next day we went to his Gymboree class, which was so cool for me because I had taken his dad there when they first started franchising in the 1980s.

It was amazing to observe Theo’s interaction with the instructor and other children. He is so much like his daddy was at that age, it’s a great response to the debate of nature versus nurture. When my son was very little, a brilliant woman told me “he sees the world in his own way” and I saw those very same characteristics in Theo. He’s not shy, he’s exceptionally self confident, but like his dad, he’s reserved; a thinker and an observer, absorbing everything and filing it away in his mind to process in his own way, but he’s not much of an active participant, although he very much enjoyed himself and helped pick up and put away the musical instruments when it was over. This week was the culmination of Beatle’s music, so when we went back home, I played the same songs that we heard in class, Yellow Submarine, All You Need is Love, and Hello/Goodbye. Theo sung along and shook the maracas exactly the same way he had paid such close attention to. With all children, it’s a great idea to take their lead in situations like this and let them guide their level of participation.

His verbal skills are on fire now, parroting dozens of new words and learning sentence structure. I call it the Helen Keller moment. Two-word directives like “Theo down” …Choo choo loud” “Daddy home” is being expanded upon. DIL and I both heard him clearly say “I want Abby’s cake” when we had a little birthday party for a friend. OF COURSE he was rewarded with the cake that he wanted. OF COURSE. It’s all about positive reinforcement, right?

My brother came to visit from Portland for a couple of days and one of our excursions was the zoo. As you might imagine, I hate zoos. I hate caged and captive wild animals. I hate that their very existence is used to make money as entertainment. I HATE seeing them in their unnatural habitats. But I figured that if I went to the zoo, later on at the appropriate age, I could begin a discussion about all of that, so I did. Theo especially loves gorillas and flamingos, so that’s what we saw. I can’t tell you how sad it was to watch those magnificent gorillas who should have been SOMEWHERE ELSE and I actually thought they seemed depressed. I felt like I shouldn’t be looking at him. Tragic.

gorillazoo

DSCN1143

The very best part of the day was on the way out.

I noticed a woman crouched on one knee pointing a camera into a tree. I looked up and saw a magnificent OWL, also one of Theo’s fave animals. When he followed my gaze and saw the owl, he was transfixed. We stayed there for a bit and he called it Daddy Owl because it was so large. The sun was going down, so this isn’t the best pic, but it was a spectacular sighting.

owlzoo

Although he gifted me with a nasty sore throat and the beginnings of the flu or some type of upper respiratory infection, it was once again a magical time; although flying home to vicious Santa Ana winds and out of control fires, loss of homes, dozens of horses perishing, and emergency notifications from the city to prepare for possible evacuation brought me right back to reality. The winds have died down for now but are forecasted to be gust at 50+ mph on Sunday.