With the notable exception of two mysteriously unpleasant days last week when Dylan did everything but spin his head counterclockwise while hissing that my mother sucks cocks in hell, I have a feeling that maybe the very worst of the young toddler stage is behind us. Which is not to downplay the rich variety of steaming hell that still lies before us, mind you, but as every day passes he gets more and more verbal, more capable, less subject to the emotional hurricanes that sweep in out of nowhere and transform him into Squalling Fury-Piglet, He-Who-Consumes-Patience (Also, Dog Hair).

If he is not exactly what I would call a calm well of serenity piloted by logic and reason, he is becoming just a tiny bit more willing to be eased out of a tantrum, and he is starting to grasp the notion of boundaries. A firm, no-nonsense “ALL DONE” will actually get him to stop staggering around howling when he’s in the midst of a pointless meltdown, and while he still chews things when he’s mad (his fingers, the hem of his shirt, the couch cushions) at least he’s not sinking his sharp little teeth into, say, my fucking SHOULDER.

He’s a strange and wonderful creature lately. Mercurial and lacking in self preservation to be sure, but also exploding with new language skills and new physical abilities. He’s putting words together into little squeaky caveman sentences, he’s ditching the stroller to bustle alongside of us on walks. I taught him to raise his arms and dramatically drop them to his legs when I ask him where something is, and it’s the best thing ever: “Dylan, where’s your book?” FLAP? FLAP. “Dylan, where’s Daddy’s ability to empty the dishwasher?” FLAP.

He is much more cuddly than Riley was, and even among the nonstop activity and pressing desire to continually fling himself from the couch while trying to imitate Buzz Lightyear (“An beyon!” he chirps, before plummeting headfirst off the armrest), he takes frequent breaks to crawl into our laps and burrow in nose-first for a hug. He runs full-tilt across rooms and into our arms, never once considering that we won’t reach down and catch him.

In my experience, the toddler stage is the hardest when it comes to parenting young children, even more challenging than the never-ending work of caring for a newborn. I’m glad for the moments when I’m able to breathe him in and appreciate this ridiculous, amazing, frustrating, miraculous, dreary, headache-triggering, heart-exploding not-quite-a-big-kid, not-quite-a-baby time.



45 Responses to “19 months”

  1. Kristy on September 17th, 2009 3:44 pm

    If you think toddlers are challenging I wish you much patience when you have two teenage boys in your house. Toddlers…can be picked up, moved, controlled. Teenagers…not so much.

  2. sundry on September 17th, 2009 3:46 pm

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha HAAAAAAA “controlled”.

  3. beach on September 17th, 2009 3:53 pm

    I am with Kristy…..love reading about the stages your kids are in….brings me back….because I am now in the 16 and 19 year old stage…..which is kicking my ASS!

  4. agb on September 17th, 2009 4:11 pm

    teens are just a different *type* of hell than toddlers……..

  5. Gigi on September 17th, 2009 4:25 pm

    Ha-ha. You have no idea what awaits you. In the meantime, if the biting becomes a problem you can try what I did. Red wine vineagar. Just a bit on the tongue; no harm done, the biting stops almost immediately.

    For teenagers – I have no idea because I’m just approaching them as I type.

  6. Alexa on September 17th, 2009 4:32 pm

    I should probably be embarrassed to admit this, but it took reading the title of this entry, frowning while thinking “wait a minute, Dylan was born the same week as Simone…” and then counting on my fingers to realize that I have been off by a full month about MY OWN DAUGHTER’S age.

    I feel like I’ve gone back in time.

  7. ucc3llina on September 17th, 2009 4:35 pm

    I love that my twins are two weeks younger than Dylan. Your monthly updates capture them perfectly. Wren hurls herself from low walls after yelling “agrayfahhhh” (“a great fall”), a la Humpty Dumpty. Robin does the arm flap for “where?” when the fountain at the park turns itself off.

  8. Eric's Mommy on September 17th, 2009 4:46 pm

    I remember this stage being really hard and losing my temper A LOT. The baby stage wasn’t so bad, and now that my boy is 7 he is a breeze most of the time. He is still very cuddly too.

  9. Margaret on September 17th, 2009 4:58 pm

    It may totally be the camera angle but… in the above picture, Riley’s feet look huge!

    Not a criticism, just an observation. :) Carry on.

  10. Beth on September 17th, 2009 4:59 pm

    isn’t it funny how the current stage you are going through is “the hardest” stage there is, just in a different way. Doesn’t matter who ya are! I have a 21-year-old and a 4-year-old and I can tell you the at times devil spawn 4-year-old is harder than any of the teen years with my girl.

  11. warcrygirl on September 17th, 2009 5:22 pm

    Linda I LOVE that photo of you and the boys. I can imagine you gleefully shouting “Assume the position!” and everyone falling into place for an hour or two of cartoons. So wonderfully casual.

  12. Valria on September 17th, 2009 5:53 pm

    Ah Ha. Now we know where those two boys get the toe curls from. (or is that curling of the toes) meh

  13. jonniker on September 17th, 2009 6:22 pm

    It drives me nuts when you say something is hard and people are all, you think THIS is hard? Wait for THAT. It totally downplays all the challenges you’re going through now, which I have no doubt are very … challenging. I spend a lot of time with toddlers every day and MAN O MAN, I am not exactly EXCITED about toddlerhood.

    Hey, are you blonder? It looks good on you!

  14. melanie on September 17th, 2009 6:29 pm

    I am totally with you!! My daughter is inching her way towards 16 months and its like she is morphing right before my eyes….all of the sudden she is a little girl…. now the 4 year old in my house has his challenges…but I remember being so relieved when he started gaining some verbal skills.

  15. Smileen on September 17th, 2009 7:00 pm

    I JUST wrote about the same thing today. The horrible rage filled attempts at communicating have def seemed to melt away into a actual human. My 21 month old and I finally had a NORMAL week. I didn’t feel the need to hit the bottle @ 11 am or anything! We really… god, HAD FUN this week. Such a vast difference to see them leap out of that shit head stage to, like.. understanding little love bugs! Its such a mood lifter! I am glad your experiencing the same! :)

  16. Scatteredmom on September 17th, 2009 7:13 pm

    Hey, actually? I have a teenager. I should point out that he’s actually a lot easier than he was as a toddler.

    Plus he lets me sleep in which is a huge bonus.

  17. Lesley on September 17th, 2009 7:14 pm

    You gotta film that flap flap maneuver.

    Two things I love about your writing: side splittingly funny irreverence and your nuanced thoughtful eye. Not everyone has the ability to describe character so finely and you’ve got that skill in spades. It’s a real gift to your kids – though they won’t know it for awhile – and for us, your readers.

    Even through the grrrrr times, you maintain your sense of humour and objectivity. At least that’s what comes through, and boy if that isn’t unconditional love I don’t know what is.

    Echoing someone else who remarked on how lovely the photo is + you look stunningly fit.

  18. kristy on September 17th, 2009 11:59 pm

    Laugh if you want…..in 11 more years or so…..you won’t be laughing. Teenagers remove window screens to leave and the cops bring them back just to do it all again. Toddlers can be contained if not controlled.

  19. Cookie on September 18th, 2009 4:06 am

    I’m right there with you. And some days the only thing that reminds me why I don’t want to go be a hermit (imagine a nice quiet peaceful empty condo) is his cuddles, and wuv wuv (love love). Thanks for always saying it so well.

  20. Chris on September 18th, 2009 4:11 am

    I’ve had both in the house, a toddler and a teenager – toddler wins hands down as the most frustrating thing ever. Love your writing.

  21. Amity on September 18th, 2009 5:59 am

    Look at you, blondie! :)

  22. Maggie on September 18th, 2009 6:23 am

    I agree that the toddler stage is harder than newborn (love newborns!), but with my girls, the 3’s were hell (little miss independent) and also 1st grade. Not looking forward to the teen years!

  23. lumpyheadsmom on September 18th, 2009 6:44 am

    “squalling fury-piglet” Oh, how I love that.

  24. pam on September 18th, 2009 6:55 am

    I loved that as newborns, my boys were immobile. That was awesome. But just not as much fun as they are now! They’re 21 months and since the speech stuff is getting a bit better, the whining isn’t nearly as constant. I mean, it’s only 80% of the time instead of 99%. That’s an improvement.

    But damn, they do some cute stuff. The hugging of each other gets me every time.

  25. sundry on September 18th, 2009 7:13 am

    Kristy, believe me, I was a horrible teenager and I have a great imagination. I really don’t need the Dire Warnings for how much worse it’s all going to be. What’s the point in offering that?

  26. Christine on September 18th, 2009 8:26 am

    Seriously? It’s like you gave birth to a miniature version of your brother in law. Fahreaky. But also? geez, he is so cute.

  27. Gleemonex on September 18th, 2009 8:58 am

    I feel ya — both this post, and your comments to the comments. I’ve loved every stage of my almost-two-year-old’s life so far … the hardest times only separate themselves out in retrospect, so that’s good, right?

    By the way: Watched the Survivor premiere last night, and the WHOLE TIME, I was thinking: You know who should go on this? Sundry. I’m totally serious, Linda, you would kick ass and take names — I think you’d be an odds-on favorite to win. Have you ever thought about it? You’re not one of those dopey 22-year-old Teevee Star wannabes, so you wouldn’t be playing for that reason; it’d be a physical challenge and a mental marathon.

  28. sundry on September 18th, 2009 9:08 am

    We watched Survivor last night too and duude, for real, I would be so horrible on that show. I’d be the crying wimp who begs to be voted off because OMFG THE SAND FLEAS. Alternately, I’d passively make an alliance with someone who is OBVIOUSLY evil, like Russell, because I’d be too intimidated to do otherwise.

    Also, you know the inevitable challenge where they have to eat camel penises and stuff? NO. Just NO.

  29. sheilah on September 18th, 2009 9:14 am

    hehe…love the aside (Also Dog hair)…hehe…

    BTW – good luck tomorrow. I know you will kick royal butt (assuming the killer algae doesn’t get you…).

  30. Liz on September 18th, 2009 9:58 am

    Ok, then: no survivor. Amazing Race? :) You and JB could be a team and win every challenge that has to do with jumping over stuff.

  31. sundry on September 18th, 2009 10:05 am

    That I could get into, except for the inevitable divorce. We’ll start small with this: http://llswa.convio.net/site/PageServer?pagename=WPC_About

  32. Dawn on September 18th, 2009 10:05 am

    “never once considering that we won’t reach down and catch him.”

    I love this.

  33. Liz on September 18th, 2009 10:13 am

    “You will have fun.
    You will get dirty.
    You will help support the fight against blood cancers.”

    Up until that last one, I was all “Oh,just like college!”


    That race looks fun as hell.

  34. schmutzie on September 18th, 2009 11:14 am

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  35. Josh on September 18th, 2009 11:32 am

    You are so good at all this parenting stuff. I mean really, you’re damn good. But I have different fears than the normal every day problems you talk about. Namely, having kids jump on my balls. Like you were saying, little kids are friggin whirlwinds of activity and energy that come at you from all sides with no warning. It seems like every time I’m around a kid they jump off the arm of the couch heels first on my crotch, or run across the room and head butt my nads. I don’t know if I can survive two solid years of that. I’ll have to invest in some kind of parenting cup.

  36. Maria on September 18th, 2009 12:14 pm

    I hope you’re out of the woods. My four year old daughter is STILL GOING STRONG. My little guy, who is two next month, however, has been cake in terms of temperament, and I’m thanking my lucky stars it hasnt’ started yet. Yes, I know those terrible twos will get here eventually.

    I don’t know about you, but what I’m finding the most helpful lately is the sibling interaction. My daughter will sneak into my son’s room when he wakes up in the morning, and I get an extra half hour of sleep while they entertain each other. That’s a blessing I’m happy to count!

  37. MelV on September 18th, 2009 12:21 pm

    “fury-piglet” best. toddler. description. ever.

  38. victoria on September 18th, 2009 1:48 pm

    (1) Need pics of & full blog post about the Amish bread slime.

    (2) The marathoner’s gastrointestinal malfunction was probably caused by hyponatremia. If you perspire a lot during the race, and you drink plenty of water but fail to replace the salt and potassium you lose in your perspiration, you can experience an electrolyte imbalance, which can cause nausea, acute diarrhea, partial or complete paralysis in your large muscles, and even death.

    Hyponatremia is a leading cause of death in marathons and other endurance events. It is a more serious problem than dehydration, partly because everyone is aware that they “Need to Stay Hydrated!” but not as aware that they need to replace potassium and salt.

    To avoid hyponatremia, you really only need to make sure you consume a sports beverage or sports gel or anything with electrolytes during the race. (You will also need to consume calories as wel. Some people will hide a banana on their route.)

    Trying to poop a lot today will not help you to prevent hyponatremia (and, for obvious reasons, you don’t want to experiment with laxatives at this point).

  39. Amy on September 18th, 2009 2:18 pm

    Wow…now there’s a font of positive information to get you motivated for tomorrow. Oh well…kick ass!

    I’m with you on the toddler into boy phase. My 7yo is all long and gangly but still loves to snuggle….it’s just not quite the same as a little butterball of almost boyhood.

  40. Lindsay on September 19th, 2009 11:11 am

    When my parents had 4 teens in the house and would run into a fam with toddlers they would say, “THANK GOD that’s not us anymore” and of course my parents had the escaping, run in with the law type teens too (that eventually turn out just fine). Soooo there seem to varying assessments of what’s worse. You’ll rock it all I’m sure.

  41. Belle on September 21st, 2009 2:50 pm

    Did you ever think you’d have TWO BOYS!? That just scares me so much more than having two girls…
    I’m going to need to get over that. ASAP.

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