Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Two years old!

A few weeks ago, the little one turned two years old -cue the trumpets! We celebrated the day with a picnic in the park and a small group of friends, some Spanish foods (tortilla de patata, chorizo, queso semi) and the Professor's now-famous carrot cake. I don't know if other parents feel the same way, but in the days leading up to Roman's birthday, I felt that the celebration would be for us as much as for him. It's true that he was the one who did the aging but we were the ones who survived! The development that children go through from one to two years old can be full of extreme and sometimes conflicting emotions: giddy happiness and sudden sadness, uncontrollable desires and little restraint, a thirst for adventure and a need for stability and order, surging autonomy and the need to be held and cuddled. It's an exciting but tumultuous time for both little one and parents and for that reason, we deserved that cake as much as he did.

Despite the tumult and constant changes, he is still the biggest source of happiness in our lives. He makes us laugh with his laughter and his joy at mundane things (a whisk! How fascinating!), he makes us grin when he dances or sings or tries to read aloud to himself, he makes us proud by eating all his food and sharing his toys at the playground, and he makes our hearts melt when we see him peacefully sleeping with his butt in the air or when he gives us an unsolicited hug and kiss. Here are some more things we've learned about him/love about him in his second year of life:

To my giggling speed racer, my balloon lover, my sweet-toothed chocoholic,

You live in a state of near constant motion. You love to walk, run, climb, chase and be chased. A few months ago, your papa and I indulged your need for speed by buying you a toy that you had been coveting for some time: the moto. I'm not sure what the name for this toy is in English. It's a plastic motorbike that's very popular with toddlers here. No kidding-every single little kid has one. I can't describe the look of ecstasy in your eyes when you first saw it. You sat on it and went tearing off down the street and I had to run after you. It was then that I realized what a foolish purchase this was. There are many reasons you love this toy and those are the same reasons we hate it: you get to decide the pace that we travel at, you can ditch us if you really want to, and you can decide when and how many times we should stop. However, since those early days when your moto was still a novelty, your love has waned a little and now you're generally well behaved and will listen to your papa and I when we tell you to slow down or stop and look both ways. 

Because of your love of motion, it's perhaps no surprise that besides the moto, most of your favorite toys are ones with wheels. Like a stereotypical boy, you love trains, cars, buses and motorcycles and you excitedly point these out to us when we're walking around the city. Because of your love of the Thomas the Train cartoon, you also love to ride the metro since you think it's a steam train. Whenever we ride the metro, you love to watch in anticipation for the train to come barreling into the station and you grin and wave hello. A few times, the driver has waved back and honked the horn for you which basically makes your life complete.

Your communication skills are coming along but for the most part you still speak a language that really only you, your papa and I understand (sometimes just you actually). You say some words in Spanish including, 'agua' (water), 'leche' (milk), 'gracias' (thank you) and 'sí' (yes). You say a few words in Catalan, including 'seu' (sit down) and 'pa' (bread) but you understand Catalan more than Spanish. At home, we speak to you in English so that is the language you know the most words in. But you say them your own way. So only your papa and I know that when you say ´boo´ you mean to say either 'boat' or 'bird', and that when you say 'momo' you mean to say 'Nemo' which is how you call all fish. You know the words for all parts of the body, many animals, all forms of transportation, and a few foods (bananas are 'nanas' and watermelon is 'mamamelo'). 

You're generally a good eater but you go through phases of disinterest. There was a week not too long ago when all you wanted to eat was yogurt, bread, cheese, milk and a few fruits. But then you go back to your usual voracity. You love steak and rice, tuna straight from the can, scrambled eggs, creamed soups (broccoli or cauliflower), rosemary chicken, french fries, carrot smoothies and all fruits indiscriminately. Your favorites constantly change. There was a time when you loved hummus, sweet pea pesto and guacamole. Now you eat none of those things. Sometimes you'll eat three tomatoes in one sitting and a month later you don't want to even look at one. We're learning to accept these things with calmness and indifference although it used to frustrate us. Tastes change and we're rolling with it. 

You love to watch TV. I should probably feel guilty about this but I don't because you really don't watch that much except for lately since it's summertime and there's no school. You love Winnie the Pooh, Thomas the Train, Dinosaur Train, Bob the Builder and Curious George. You interact with the TV and it always makes us laugh. If something bad happens in one of your cartoons, you yell, 'OH NO!', you like to dance and sing along whenever there's music and you like to wave hello to your favorite characters. You can watch the same episode of the same show over and over again. Your papa and I can recite entire episodes and we know every show's theme song by heart. We're parents, what can I say?

I'm not sure if I can safely say this quite yet, but you seem to be an introvert. You used to be a much more sociable baby but now you definitely prefer familiar faces. Whenever we're in a large group, you get anxious and fussy. You prefer individualized attention rather than a bunch of people staring at you and trying to interact with you. We noticed this especially during your birthday party when you didn't want anyone to sing to you and you ran away from the party frequently because you felt overwhelmed by all the attention. You also don't like being put on the spot. We talk with our families on Skype almost every day and you run away from the computer so as not to be forced to say hello and goodbye. But then again, sometimes you develop friendly attachments to strangers who somehow win your confidence. You're unpredictable like that. 

As I mentioned above, you do experience extreme emotions. You have a few different cries and your papa and I have classified them like so: 1) the cry you use when something is actually bothering you or hurting you. This is your 'legitimate' cry 2) the 'big pouty' cry where you cover your eyes so that we can't see that there are indeed no tears and you're just faking to get what you want 3) the 'running pout' which is basically the second cry but while running away from us in order to make a point. If you were a teenager, you would go into a room and slam the door behind you 4) The 'system failure'. This one is where you lie on the floor and sob audibly and dramatically into the hardwood. This one is impossible to ignore so basically we have to go to you, pick you up and cuddle you for a bit while you compose yourself before telling us what's wrong. This time of your life has been called the 'terrible twos' but I don't care for that term. It implies that there's something negative in your behavior. It's true that soothing a crying toddler is not the most pleasant aspect of parenthood. But if you take the time to learn about your child's development at this age, you realize that they are upset because they can't communicate with you or they feel you are neglecting or ignoring them and this makes them frustrated, angry, and sad. If you accept this, you can understand their behavior and it becomes so much easier to help them. Instead of feeling irritated, you feel sympathetic.

Well, that was a pretty long letter and yet there's plenty I haven't mentioned. I guess it's pretty obvious that your papa and I just can't get enough of you. We love you very much little chickpea.

P.S. Here are the letters I wrote at eighteen months old and one year old in case you missed them. 

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