I witnessed an event this morning that captures Elliott's current outlook on life. His mama asked him if he wanted to take his stuffed cow back to school which he had brought home with him for the weekend. He said yes. So, being the kind mama that she is, Katie picked up the cow and tossed it toward the front door where Elliott and I were standing. When the cow hit the ground it front of us, Elliott screamed in a panic that left me wondering for an instant if Katie hadn't tossed one of her famous homemade pipe bombs our way instead of a stuffed toy.
"No mama, I wanna do it myself," Elliott shouted.
Elliott then flung the cow back in the general direction from which it came, minus the spirit of cooperation that was on board the incoming flight. Then, turning back the hands of time and erasing recent events like only a toddler can, he marched over and picked up the cow, returned with it, and in a voice as pleasant as a church choir said "OK daddy, I'm ready to go."
Elliott's fight for indepedence is a daily one. The other night at the dinner table he announced that he had to go potty. He hustled back to the bathroom that is located in the room just off of our dining area where I had a clear view of his progress. The first sign that something unusual was occurring was that after several minutes of being in the bathroom he was still standing. Unusual because he has become pretty efficient at the potty game. I finally left my plate, an act I reserve for emergencies, and went to check on him. What I found was a two year old boy standing on his tiptoes facing the general direction of the "adult" toilet. He had his plumbing in hand and he was becoming increasingly agitated at his inability to point it toward the desired target. I helped him understand that at this point in his life he insn't battling an ability to be independent, but instead the height to be so. He retreated to his regular method and we've had no further experimenting.
Most days Ian seems to be more successful at achieving independence. Of course, everything is relative and for Ian independece is simply having the freedom to roam from point "A" to point "B", and owning the license to choose exactly where those two points are. Frankly, we are undermanned in our efforts to contain his choices. We have attempted to use everything from overflowing laundry baskets to large pieces of furniture as road blocks to help confine the course of his travels. But Ian makes our roadblocks look like racoons trying to redirect the path of a tractor-trailer. I think it's more a reflection of Ian's determination than his size, but I guess it doesn't matter much since we are hopelessly unqualified to dictate either one.
Things do get more complicated when the hurdles, whether they intend to be or not, are human beings.. Elliott ran crying to me this weekend in a fit that was obviously brought on more from hurt feelings than bruised body parts.
"What's the matter buddy?" I asked
"Ian just knocked me over," Elliott answered.
"I'm sure he didn't mean it," I assured him, wondering when it will no longer be appropriate to flat out lie to my children.
The good news is Ian's weight is leveling off so our hurdles may become more effective. He went to the doctor yesterday and he is in the 50th percentile for weight (still at 20 pounds) and the 75th for length. The doctor said Ian looks good, but he does have to go to an allergist to determine if any of his frequent skin issues are being caused by allergies. On a side note, Ian turned 9 months old yesterday.
We are heading to our old stomping grounds this coming weekend. We're taking the boys down to the beach in North Carolina. We told Elliott last week that we were going on vacation to the beach. I wasn't sure if he understood it completely or not, but when I took him to school the next day it became clear that he did. After I gave him his goodbye kiss and hug and walked out the door, I heard him tell his teacher "we're going to the beach." It was the first time I had seen him truly anticipate something other than apple juice. It should be a good trip and please pray for our safe travels.
Be sure to check out the video of Ian below.