Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Before K was born, whenever I heard or read the phrase "growing up" my mind instantly associated with puberty, that drastic and in some ways violent transformation from a creature who cannot sexually reproduce into one who can. Those years represent the greatest time of change in our lives, right? We view parents, siblings, teachers and the boys and girls we've known all our lives differently. Our bodies sprout hair, stretch, fill, do actions independent of what we ask of them.

Two years into being a dad, the associations are becoming muddled. Yes, morphing into larger, hairier, sexual beings is a big deal. But bigger than learning how to eat, walk and talk? I read somewhere that a human baby will absorb more information in the first two years of its life than in all subsequent years. It is an amazing feat in the abstract, and no less amazing in reality, but being able to observe it in real time, it's crazy how much work is involved.  Kids never stop working. Those spongy little brains are constantly consuming and digesting every minuscule scrap of information that floats by. They even learn at play. Sometimes, while they sleep.

This is why nights like Monday, I try to keep them in perspective. We brought K into bed with us expecting him to cuddle up and fall asleep. Two hours after we shut off the lights he was still awake; singing, talking, playing with the cat and dog. Finally, after ordering him to go to sleep multiple times to zero effect, when he decided it was time to climb off the bed and run around, I had to haul him, kicking and screaming, into his own room and put him in his crib. I went back to bed and let his mother deal with shrieking. I had to get up early for work this morning. I was pissed. (he only lasted about 4 minutes before he passed out anyway.)

K has been difficult lately. His two favorite words are "no" and "mine." If he doesn't get what he wants immediately, he melts into a wailing puddle of rage. He's even started lashing out on two of his babysitters/favorite people, Wife's dad and my youngest brother. He's also been sleeping a lot, which had us worried at first, until we discovered that clothes which fit two weeks ago are now too small for him. At the same time, his ability to navigate the language has taken a jump. No, a leap. He is forming full sentences. Questions pertinent to a particular situation are being asked. When I stubbed my toe the other day and cursed, he looked at me and said, "What's the matter?" When Wife crashed on the couch and pulled the blanket over herself, K said, "You tired?" Obviously, the boy is growing, on multiple fronts, simultaneously, and it's tough going.

I find myself more and more reflecting on puberty whenever he's being a pill. I try see the world as he does. I get his frustration with the contradictory rules; his lack of control over what he eats, what he wears, where he goes, what he can touch; the inability of those around him to comprehend when he tries to explain what is bothering him, what he needs. The analogy between life as a teenager in puberty and a two year old isn't exact, but close enough when boiled down to the bones. Those not existing in a state of physical and mental flux cannot relate to those who are, no matter how hard they try. And that sucks. It's frustrating when no one gets it and you're doing your best but still fall just short, again and again.

I can empathize with that. So I tell myself to chill. Don't be pissed. This is harder for him than it is for you.

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