(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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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.

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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.

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Recent chat…

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

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

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Walking away…The bittersweetness of it.

Nothing stays the same.

Children grow.

No matter how much you want them to remain babies that simply smile, sleep, poop, and eat, children don’t stay that way forever.

As soon as they begin to move, to crawl, to walk; the rest of their life seems to be dedicated to moving AWAY from us.

I visited sweet Angel Boy 2.0 recently and my overall observation was of his back, moving TOWARD what caught his eye, what intrigued him, and what was the next obstacle to surmount.

No longer a baby, AB 2.0 walks and runs everywhere; his autonomy and confidence is a magnificent thing to behold, albeit a bit scary, too.

He’s fearless, this amazing boy of my boy.

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Contemplating a sea of possibilities

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His confident and empowered stride

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The world is endlessly fascinating

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A boy and his balloon

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The magic of salmon

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My two boys, Angel 1.0 and 2.0