I was drawing Elliott's bath water last night when he decided he wanted to brush his teeth. It was a great idea. I've neglected that step since taking over Elliott's bedtime routine, soon before Ian was born, so it was a wonderful opportunity to get him to resume practicing good dental hygiene. I accommodated his wishes and loaded up his Thomas the Train toothbrush with toddler training toothpaste. I won't belabor that these are teeth that will all fall out of his mouth one day soon; I never managed to make that a compelling argument for abandoning this practice. Besides, it kept him constructively busy while I got things ready, which isn't always the case.
Once the tub was full and ready for Elliott to take his evening dip, I turned my attention to chasing him down. It is unusual to find him standing nearby; he likes to make a game out of hunting for him to put him in the tub. But there he was, still brushing, unquestionably hearing his mom's instructions in his head "the American Dental Association (ADA) suggests at least 2-3 minutes of brushing at least twice per day."
I studied Elliott for a moment, finding it entertaining to see how serious he was about the process. He zigzagged the toothbrush about in his mouth, whether intentional or not, addressing all sections of his teeth. Catching me off guard, he stopped and whipped his head in the direction of the sink and simulated a spit of toothpaste. Nothing left his mouth. If it had, it would have been crawling in a minty gob down the cabinet door beneath the sink. He didn't shoot me one of his glances aimed to confirm witness of his theatrics. When he repeated the the scene again, it was obvious his actions weren't for my entertainment, but more Elliott representing a routine he had witnessed elsewhere. At his young age, he is already more concerned about style than the opinions of the ADA.
It is a danger with Elliott, as I'm sure it is with many two year olds, to say or do anything you don't want to hear or see framed in some future moment in time. Elliott and I have watched a lot of Notre Dame basketball lately. A source of hardship for us both. Notre Dame's star player is Luke Harangoty, so it is understandable that Elliott and I scream at his high definition image above the fireplace, "Go Gody Go." One morning this week we were watching highlights of the Tennessee women's basketball team after their coach, Pat Summitt, had led them to victory, the 1000th of her career. As Elliott watched the girls run up and down the court, he turned to me and asked "Where'd Gody go daddy?" I didn't begin to explain all the reasons he didn't belong on that court.
I was listening to a sports talk show host on the radio that very morning. He was explaining to his co-host that he had lost all control of his two boys, one age 2, the other 4. He explained that in every relationship someone has the "hand," and he no longer had it with/over his boys. His co-host has older children, so he was looking for advice about regaining control of the relationship. His two year old had heaved a toy tractor, playing I'm sure, that caught him above the eye, leaving a swollen and bloody cut. Once he tended to his medical needs and all appeared well, his 4 year old turned to him and said, "Dad, you have to admit, he has a pretty good arm." I could see my own hands drifting into space at that very moment.
Ian went to the doctor yesterday for his 3 month checkup. Were the doctor to abandon all bedside manner, he would have said "has he considered weight watchers?" He didn't though. Instead, he stuck with the facts. Ian has climbed to the 90th percentile of weight for babies his age. This means 1 in 10 mothers in America with 3 month old babies are carrying co-pilots on a journey to inescapable back problems.
I shared with my mom this week that I had read an old update I wrote on Elliott when he was just over a month old. Elliott had rolled over from his belly to his back 3 times that day. I told her that Ian hasn't even considered such an exercise. She reminded me that Elliott was lighter than Ian at that age which makes the task easier. I suppose if Ian gets an urge to get from belly to back, he'll need some assistance, like a bulldozer or a small crane.
His weight is a source of great fun, but it is just fun. The boy carries his weight in smiles, so the heavier the better. There are times he smiles so big and he is so anxious to tell you why, that his arms and legs swing wildly in an effort to release his penned up joy. He'll relax only for a moment to reload his smile, then fire another round. And although Elliott keeps us in laughter these days, there is a difference between a smile and a laugh. We are so blessed to have a house filled with both. At a time when the world seems to be filled with loss, one simple spit, one exploding smile, a wonderful mama sharing in it all - there is far more gained each day than lost in our house.