RISING SUN - As I’m writing this, I have my almost-two-year-old son next to me. Waylon, or as he’s often referred to as Bop, Boppy, or the Legendary Boppy Wayls, is trying to put a PlayMobile ambulance back together-without much luck.
Wayls doesn’t get a lot of time front and center in my column, perhaps partially due to the fact he still doesn’t talk much yet. It’s hard to quote someone whose language only exists to the people who live with him every day.
It is probably partially due to the fact that his brother is so loud and chatty that Waylon hasn’t developed a need yet for clear concise words.
However, Chasca and I both find ourselves pleading with him to “Please, speak English!” This usually occurs, when we’ve exhausted every option for what he might want and he has begun to cry.
Wayls has a small rotation of words that do work for what he needs. “Bah bah” for cup or bottle, “bud-dah” for brother, “wah wah” for water, swimming, bathing or towels, “arf arf” for blanket and “how how” for dogs and “bite” which is a rather clear word for him and is often used to demand your food or to pretend he’s a dinosaur taking a chomp out of you. Honorable mention in the words category goes to this strange noise he makes for chips. It’s kind of like “chhhhhhhhhh,” but with a lot more slobber and droplet spreading.
Living with Waylon is a never ending adventure. Watching him ramble around often gives me time to pause and wonder, how will growing up during the time of this plague affect him in the long run? We joke some of the biggest oddities for him will probably be going into other people’s houses or getting hugs from people other than his parents or brother. Which is really too bad because sweet little Bop gives the best sweaty cheesy baby hugs and sloppy kisses you could ask for.
He isn’t around many people that aren’t in his household very often. However, he is luckily still very social. I’m kind of a caveman way. When we go to the park for picnics and he sees others who are also using the shelter, he will approach them (always at a distance), stare directly into their soul and point to me and grunt in his deep man-baby voice “Mama!” while pointing at me. Sometimes, the people try to ignore him which just makes the whole thing more awkward because Waylon will not break his stare-and-grunt maneuver. Consistently repeating “Mama!” until he is acknowledged. When they finally do say something like “ooooh that’s your mama?” He nods slowly and walks away. Satisfied that everyone knows I’m the mama, and I’m in charge.
Losing the structure of daycare and family care that we had with Thatcher at this age makes me wonder if I’m cutting him short developmentally. Is he getting age-appropriate stimulation? Am I playing with him enough? Are his fine motor skills getting stimulated? I lay in my bed at night wondering these things.
And then, usually the next day, I become kind of hyper vigilant about his goings on. And I remember kids are incredibly adaptable.
To us, sitting down with a bag of sweet corn to shuck might be a meaningless task with the endgame only being a full belly. But to Bop, it’s a challenge to pull every single strand of corn silk off one by one.
Insisting on wearing his brother's underpants on the outside of his shorts and putting them on himself is a sign of him showing independence (and humor).
Following us around and wanting to participate in every little thing isn’t his way of being in the way, it’s how he is learning. He is picking up on everything. We are his biggest teachers.
It’s a good reminder and takeaway for me during this time of mostly isolation that kids are perfectly capable of learning under many circumstances, given the opportunity.As the school year approaches, I’m sure a lot of parents are grappling with the whole concept of traditional education versus a more adaptive approach. Even I am, as Thatcher is facing down 4K. His backpack is packed and sitting on a shelf, but I still haven’t come to a conclusion yet on what we will do. I’m sure I’ll report back here on how it goes, but we have a few weeks yet. In the meantime, we’ll continue to soak up the last days of summer freedom. They’re getting shorter and colder and the feeling of “there isn’t much time left” is crunching down. However, one joy of living with kids is the best season is the one you wake up to that morning.