Friday, February 24, 2012

Keeping a straight face (Or, Ev being Ev)

ev being ev.

The picture above is one of my all-time favorites. Taken on a 70-degree day last November, it reveals so much about our middle child, who is so often at the very center of our attention. For one, he is simply hilarious. Second, Evan knows what he wants. He has quite a bit of two-year-old swagger going on. Also, the boy likes his gear. Those binoculars are his "picture" (camera), which he takes along frequently when we go to Tobin's school. He also likes to wear a backwards baseball cap, sunglasses and most recently, a bike helmet. The other morning, it was cold so he was appropriately wearing a winter hat. Once we got inside the building, he pulled the hat down over his eyes and said, "Mom, I'm Spider-Man!" And then he insisted on keeping it that way as we walked through the halls. I was holding his hand, helping avoid bumping into people and walls, when Tobin's friend's dad said, "I know it makes your life harder, but that is hilarious." I smiled and nodded, thinking, That pretty much sums up my life with this two year old right now.

I try to carefully pick my battles with him. So long as he's not hurting himself or someone else, or otherwise being too disruptive, I let him carry on as he wants. I have yet to let him wear this Spidey mask out in public. I fear it would be too distracting or, worse, might scare some kids. Of course, I let him wear it whenever he wants around the house.

spidey snuggle

Disciplining him is more difficult than I remember it being with Tobin at this age. Primarily because I have trouble keeping a straight face. When we first introduced time-out to him, he would use it as a token system of sorts. He'd hit Tobin and then run to put himself in time-out. Not only did Matt and I have to figure out how to fine-tune this behavior-management technique, we also had to resist the urge to laugh aloud. For the most part, he's caught on to time-out and it seems to be effective, but every once in a while he'll tell Tobin to go to time-out--very insistently.

I also find myself trying to keep a straight face so that I don't reinforce certain behaviors. For instance, one day I asked him to grab his binoculars before climbing out of the van. He looked in their direction, paused and then looked at me and said dismissively, "Um . . . no." I totally laughed because it caught me off guard. I heard "Um, no!" quite a bit over the next few days.

Ev isn't necessarily a difficult child. He's just different from Tobin, so I've had to make some adjustments to my toddler-mama bag of tricks. One nice option I almost have is: distract him with food! If I need to get him out of my hair or otherwise redirect his attention, I'll ask if he wants something to eat and he'll almost answer brightly, "Sure, I wanna snack!"

spidey snack

Recently, I started jotting down notable things that happen throughout the day, ostensibly to share later with Matt or on this blog. Unsurprisingly, my notes were basically "Ev . . . Ev . . . Ev . . . Ev!" Here are a few of those gems.

He has such a funny, creative chain-of-thought sometimes. One morning, we were enjoying reading books on the couch while Lauren napped and when I finished My Many Colored Days by Dr. Suess, he closed the book and held it flat and asked, "Want some pizza, Mama?" (That book is not remotely about food.) And then he walked over to his wooden food toys and made me an open-faced watermelon sandwich.

Evan is not a cautious young fellow. Just this morning, he thought it would be fun to jump down our nine, fairly steep, brick front steps. Fortunately, this thought occurred to him on one of the lower steps and he just fell kind of sideways and not very hard. When he expressed alarm, I said, "Don't jump on the steps. You'll fall down and get hurt!" Later, as we were returning home, he tried to jump up the steps. Again, no injuries except it scared me to death. The other morning when I was taking some pictures of Lauren on my bed, he came in and I turned around to him declaring, "I ride bike on bed!" With his bike helmet hanging by its strap on his neck, no less.

ill-advised activity

Lately, when Evan has the hiccups, he runs up to Matt or me, covering his mouth with his hands and exclaiming, "My mouth! My mouth!"

A classic Evan-ism is "Oh no, what happen!" Sometimes it's sincere. Like when he gets a floppy slice of pizza: "Oh no, what happen pizza!" Frequently, he'll refuse to eat said slice. Other times, it's used in a more mischievous manner. Sometimes, when he's in his car seat, he'll push his leg against the van's automatic-closing door as it's closing. When this triggers the door to re-open, he'll say, "Oh no, what happen door!" Or if the door does close: "Oh no, what happen my foot!" (He's not in danger of being injured in this situation, but I do tell him to stop or he'll hurt his foot.)

Yesterday, Tobin asked for some of his Valentine's Day candy hearts after lunch. I obliged. Evan asked for some "candies!" Not wanting him to have the hard candy, I gave him some a couple M&Ms, which he happily popped in his mouth. While chewing, he pointed at Tobin's hearts and said, "Mom, I want candies!" When I explained that the M&Ms were his candy, he reached in his mouth, pulled out the half-chewed M&Ms and handed them to me, saying, "No M&Ms, I want candies!"

And lastly, I think this one sums up so much about how motherhood is simultaneously exhilarating but also humbling (not in the good way): Evan locked eyes with me and in the sweetest, sincerest tone said "Thanks, Mom" as I took a sticky, green boogie from the end of his finger.

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