Lately we’ve been taking the boys to a nearby college campus which is 1) satisfyingly empty after hours with tons of areas to explore, and 2) teeming with small cottontail rabbits—they’re everywhere; in the wooded trails, hopping across the parking lots, contentedly gnawing grass in the common areas. On Sunday I loudly asked, “Who wants to go see the bunnies?” and from the corner of the room behind a pile of Legos, a tiny voice peeped, “Me.”

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Oh, Dylan. I can hardly believe it, but he’s a year and a half old now. A toddler! One who can talk. Using words. My god.

At eighteen months, Dylan is obsessed with animals and the noises they make. Particularly the cow (MOOOO), the sheep (AHH), the cat (MOW!), the owl (HOO. HOO.) and the horse (MOOOO) (?). He loves books featuring pictures of animals and is constantly clambering into our laps, saying “Book! Book!” and insisting on yet another team viewing of My Giant Book of Farm Porn or whatever it is.

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His language has been exploding lately and he’s so strainingly eager to communicate. When I get home from work, or open his bedroom door in the morning, he shouts “Mama! Mama!” before pointing to every recognizable object nearby: “Fish! Dada! ‘Orse! Ball!” Woe be unto you if you do not acknowledge these namings with the proper enthusiasm, for he will simply repeat ‘orse, ‘orse, ‘ORSE, ‘ORSE until you shout YES! Yes! That IS a seahorse, right there on the cover of that book about . . . seahorses. Holy fucking SHIT, Dylan!

Some of his frequently-used non-farm-animal words that come to mind: Mama, Dada, ball, noo noo (macaroni), up, down, baba, more, song, star, water, walk, outside, inside, shoes, socks, Riley (I don’t know how to spell the way he pronounces this, but its meaning is unmistakeable), hot, all done, night night, light, cookie, cracker, waffle, car, truck, baby. The words he can say are nothing compared to what he can understand, which I tend to forget until I do something like quietly ask JB if I should put the farm video on and Dylan cocks his head before heaving himself onto the sofa and pointing at the television. “More! More!”

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He watches his brother with squirrel-bright eyes and wants to do everything Riley does, which is both awesome and horrifying. They cackle and conspire together. They plot ways to break bones and shatter household objects. Their favorite game is to violently pogo up and down on the living room couch, screaming and laughing, while I flap and squawk as uselessly as a mother hen.

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Dylan is terrified of the vacuum cleaner, but in other areas of life seems to be fearless to the point of reverse Darwinism. He beelines for the nearest physical catastrophe with an unerring sense for what will give me the strongest heart palpitations, and just when I think he’s surely starting to get the hang of this self preservation business, I find him precariously balancing on the top of his toy car, grinning widely while it begins to roll out from under his feet.

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This weekend I suddenly realized I didn’t know where he’d disappeared to and I began walking through the house saying, “Dylan? Dylan! DYLLAANN!” over and over, peering in bathrooms and behind bedroom doors, and I kept hearing this bizarre, floating giggle that seemed to come out of the air, and I couldn’t find him and I couldn’t find him and I kept hearing the giggle and I finally shouted in sheer desperation, like someone in a horror movie, “DYLAN, WHERE ARE YOU?” and suddenly I saw him from where he had climbed into his stroller and was hiding in the seat. “Hee hee hee,” he said, his eyes crinkled nearly shut with the fun of it all.

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He has the most stubborn cowlick in the world, a perfect representation of his resistant nature, and his recent haircut protests were surely audible from space a few days ago. Oh, he is a furious little sniglet when he wants to be, stomping around throwing things and pulling books off the shelf and biting the furniture and strangest of all, vengefully cramming dog hair in his mouth when he’s mad.

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His moods are like summer storms, though, and as quickly as the black clouds roll in they’re gone, and his good humor shines through once more. And he’s off: to gallop at top speed while yelling “AAHHHHH!”, to steal one of my shoes and drag it around the house, to pound all the annoying buttons on Riley’s battery-powered Buzz Lightyear (“Zurg will—Zurg will—Zurg will—Zurg will never see this coming!”) to grab the dog’s Frisbee and try his level best to throw it for her.

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He is, at times, a most colossal pain in the ass; he can be frustrating and exhausting and a challenge of near-Everest proportions. But oh, this boy. He is so funny, so pure, such a delicious pie-slice of life. He is a lovebug who can’t get enough affection, he wants to be held and kissed and carried from place to place. “Up , up!” he says, holding his little hands high, then cuddles straight into my chest, rolling his arms underneath his body as if burrowing right into me. I can’t get enough of this determined, intentional love, so much stronger than a baby’s needful contentment. I can’t believe there will ever come a time when he’s too big to fit in our arms.

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Comments

60 Responses to “18 month state of the union”

  1. Must Be Motherhood on August 12th, 2009 11:23 am

    I too have questions about this at-home-haircutting-stuff! What a miraculous idea. Can JB really make him sit still without placing him in a stoopid Cookie Cutter’s car?

  2. Becky Mochaface on August 12th, 2009 2:03 pm

    That last pic is awesome. So beautiful!

  3. Sunshyn on August 12th, 2009 4:15 pm

    There’s a really sweet book, “Going to Sleep on the Farm” he will love, then.

  4. Caroline Wright on August 12th, 2009 6:34 pm

    That last pic gave me chicken skin and made me cry at the SAME TIME. Do you know how WEIRD that is?!?

    It should be blown up to poster-size and hung over the mantles (or tattooed onto the foreheads of) every expectant father on the planet: THIS is what you do. THIS is what you do.

  5. Linda on August 12th, 2009 7:53 pm

    Totally random question – where did you get that blue pool?

  6. Katy on August 13th, 2009 12:31 am

    Oh My Gods he is too too cute. All your boys are. That last picture made me cry.

    Oh and my boy is sooooooooo afraid of haircuts. The last time I took him every time the nice lady tried to snip a bit of his hair he screamed OUCH! Very embarrassing. So now he looks like a curly blonde haired girl. But no screaming!

  7. MelV on August 13th, 2009 11:34 am

    “…fearless to the point of reverse Darwinism” BWAHAHAHA the best, most accurate, description of a little boy ever.

  8. zeghsy on August 13th, 2009 12:39 pm

    man… this makes me want to meet him (and the rest of y’all) SO bad! except, if he didn’t snuggle me immediately, i think i’d be crushed.

  9. Cookie on August 14th, 2009 4:32 am

    You always are able to say things just perfectly. I totally understand this. That’s why I love your writing so much. You have such an excellent way of telling things that makes it so easy to relate too (especially when I have boys the same ages as yours).

  10. Laurie on August 14th, 2009 3:06 pm

    Dylan looks like Prince Harry. CUTE!

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