Help, there’s an alien/cyclone/toddler in my house!

Sept. 18, 2015

Warning: This post is not about Donald Trump (unless you find tips on how to handle a toddler relevant).

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We headed off to Mexico this summer with a 10-month-old baby and came home with a year-old kid. A lot of amazing things happened in those two months, most importantly, Cozy started walking. We’ve been home almost a month and she’s pretty much running the house. So this post will be a trip down memory lane for some people and a cautionary tale for others.

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First, I’d like to say to all those who have toddlers whose homes I’ve visited and thought to myself, “Christ, this place looks like a bomb went off,” I apologize for judging you so harshly. I have to think that cartoon of the Tasmanian Devil is based on a 1-year-old child. We have our own little devil. Cozy is in love with the theory of gravity. She loves to see things fall to earth. Anything on a shelf or a plate becomes subject to an experiment. If I hear a crash I know she is doing science. When we got her a helium balloon she was completely fascinated that some things fall up. But most things fall down and shatter.

She’s also in love with the theory of entropy, the gradual decline into disorder. Although, it ain’t so gradual in this house. Where did dad’s work-out schedule go? Cozy. Where did our sleep schedule go? Cozy Where did that book go I was reading? Cozy ate it. Where did the power bill go? Cozy ate it. Where did the Cheerios that Cozy was eating go? In my underwear drawer. Where did the year go? Loved every second of it.

There’s also the fact that now that she is fully mobile, all the household dangers just got magnified by a factor of ten. She went from crawling to walking to sprinting in the blink of an eye. I ran downstairs to change the laundry and thought she was in her room, but she doubled back behind me when I came upstairs and I heard a horrible thud as she rolled down the steps to the basement. Fortunately she busted her lip instead of her neck but that door is now permanently closed. So is the cabinet door under the sink where’s she convinced some great wonder must be. I think she figures we have Elmo locked up under there. It’s her mission to break him out.

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So the baby is long gone. We now have a little alien person living in our house who speaks full sentences in some strange language. As best as I can tell, it’s a cross between Icelandic and that derka derka language the terrorists in Team America spoke. But she knows what she’s saying. She’ll tell you that she wants mac and cheese, not oatmeal (Sorry, off the menu), or that I need to get out of bed and put on a puppet show, or plastic bottles don’t go in the recycling. (They’re for throwing across the kitchen.) If there was a Rosetta Stone for this language, I would gladly pay medium bucks for a hot version of it on Craigslist.

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After a year, we have a lot more than the germ of a personality. She’s pretty much here. Cozy loves art, like her mom. She loves to paint and draw. A brush or a pen or a crayon and she’s busy for precious minutes. So far only the oven has been tagged. She loves books and will just dive into a story. Thank God we’ve got Goodnight Moon in English and Spanish (Sorry, Trump). But most of all she loves baths. That’s a lucky one. Really, any kind of water. In Mexico, her abuela took her swimming in the ocean almost every day. Yesterday we went to Salmon Street fountain and it was all I could do to keep her from jumping in. And when dad is in the shower, there’s often a little face that will pull back the curtain for the thrill of getting soaked.

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Now that Andrea is back at work after our summer on the isla, I’m back to playing stay-at-home dad and there’s a lot of intense bonding. Before I was racing to get housework done during naps. Now, I’m just hanging out with my new friend. Sometimes we go out for coffee, sometimes we color, sometimes she helps me to take the dishes out of the dishwasher and sometimes I take a nap while she spackles the concrete wall in the laundry room. (OK, that last one is just wishful thinking.) Sometimes we just lay in bed making faces and I think I could just do this forever.

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I love getting to know this person (who is still free of gender). It’s a whole new ballgame. Yeah, mom and dad would really like it if she took more naps, but she’s got too much to figure out about the world. You can see the wheels turning behind those big brown eyes as her brain grows at a dizzying rate. One minute she trying to figure out if the cat can talk, the next she’s striking a pose in hope she can convince dad to get a kitten. She’s figured out how to talk to Siri on Andrea’s iPhone, so maybe Cozy can ask her. I just look at her in wonder. Where did this amazing little person come from?

All that “it goes by so fast” business is truer than true.

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