I confirmed two things about Elliott this weekend. I may be the only one in the family who needed the confirmation, but I'm a visual person, and I sometimes need to see things before they move beyond questioning in my mind. The first, Elliott is ALL boy. I was sitting on the back porch Saturday while Elliott played in the back yard. He came over and joined me as I sat on the steps leading from our deck to the yard. However, Elliott became quickly bored with our father and son moment and decided to add a little adventure to our sharing time. He climbed down to the first step and without hesitation jumped onto the grass landing below. He turned around and looked at me with a "did you see that" look. I'm not sure what the right thing to say was, but I made the mistake of saying nice job. He repeated his jump several times before he altered the plan. He climbed to the second step. He gave me a quick glance, but made sure it was quick enough to deny me any opportunity to decide this was a bad idea. He jumped, didn't stick the landing, and rolled on the ground. He pulled himself up and with a smile declared "that was fun".
The look I got next was one I imagine Evil Knievel got when he determined jumping the Snake River in Idaho would somehow provide the excitement he inexplicably missed out on jumping Pepsi delivery trucks (a jump, by the way, that resulted in a broken collarbone, a compound fracture of the right arm, and two broken legs). Elliott climbed to the third step off the ground. His eyes were much bigger than they had been the previous two jumps. He held his hand out to me - "help me daddy." In hindsight, I believe he must have been thinking "Ok idiot, here's one last chance to stop me before you have to explain to mama how I broke an ankle jumping off the deck, and oh yea, might I add, to your applause."
"Hold my hand tight," I said, "Now jump." I remember watching tapes of Evil's Snake River jump. I remember how long it took for that parachuted motorcycle to float to the bottom of the canyon when it failed to reach the other side. It seemed to take just that long for Elliott to reach the landing area below, but he did. And he was without injury, which was good, but fueled his newfound desire to fly. He didn't attempt to go any higher, but he continued jumping off that third step for another ten minutes, stopping just before mama came out to check on us. He is ALL boy.
He is also ALL two year old. I recently heard John Rosemond, a well know parenting expert (assuming there is such a thing), say that by the age of 3 every child has determined he has been put on this earth for one of two reasons. He is either here to have his parents guide him, or God forbid, he is here to guide the parents. I've come to realize the child doesn't determine this by cracking open a fortune cookie at his third birthday party. No, he collects data between that second and third birthday which helps him define his role. Understanding that, it is comforting to know that Elliott is simply conducting a study and not rudely barking out orders as if he has been promoted to lieutenant of the Cartwright platoon. And the whining when he doesn't get his way, well thank God that's also research and not wailing symptomatic of the bird flu, swine flu, mad cow disease, or one of the other evening news diseases of the week .
Elliott's orders aren't always issued to serve his own interests, but sometimes to serve the good of all. We were pulling out of our neighborhood last weekend. I approached the stop sign that serves as a suggestion to briefly pause before exiting our small community onto the road that leads to town, a road frequented more often by bicyclists and joggers than cars. As I slowed and crawled through the stop sign, Elliott barks from the back seat "No daddy, you stop at stop signs." He has obviously participated in the co-pilot training course offered by one of the leading experts in the field - mama.
The boy does still have his sweet moments. I must admit though, I find myself wondering if those moments aren't strategically implanted to divert my attention away from his efforts to overthrow the parental form of government that currently rules our home. I was reading him a book in the dark corner of his room the other night. I could tell he was just about asleep so I thought it a good time to plant a thought in his head.
I asked, "Are you a good boy?"
"Yea", he answered, clearly seconds away from drifting into another world. Then a long silence was interrupted with:
"Are you a good daddy?"
I think he was long asleep when I quietly answered, "God, I sure hope so."
Grandma sent an email the other day that sums up little Ian's progress far better than any words I can provide. I received this at work with the subject heading of Ian tricks. It definitely lightened up the day:
You should see him s-t-r-e-t-c-h his entire body tip of toes to fingertips trying to get the little beachball. Great incentive to crawl, yet somehow cruel. When his tiny little but chubby finger touches the ball it rolls just enough to make him crawl again.
Also, please teach him that pulling the hair on back of my neck with his left hand while trying to bite my left cheek IS NOT hugging and kissing!
That's our boy.