Thursday, February 21, 2013

Portrait of William at a Year and a Half

William is awesome.

Mike and I find ourselves stating William's awesomeness constantly.

When I found out my second child was a boy, I tried to remind myself that boys often learn to talk more slowly than girls and that there was no way lightening could strike twice giving me two early talkers.  But, it did.  William reached 100 words a full two months sooner than Natalie, and now at 18 months, I would bet he has at least another 50 words.  Currently, his favorites are "Thank you," "Where are you?," "What are you doing?,"  "Here you go," and "Why?"  For months, William has blown us away with what he can communicate to us through words.  Just a few minutes ago as I read to them both at lunch, for the first time William dominated the book.  He was so excited about Maisy's Easter and had so much to say (or rather yell) about it.

William does not mind a mess.  He gets all kinds of art materials all over himself.  Everything from paint to crayons to glue must be rubbed and often tasted.  Salsa, yogurt, applesauce, milk, and juice are all an extension of art supplies that he likes to smear around his place mat.  I've give up  on using wipes to clean him.  Instead, I use face cloth to clean his forearms, nose, hair, and in between his fingers.  He loves it when I sing "Wash wash wash your hands, dry them in the breeze, put them up and put them down, now put them on your knees."  He gives a huge smile and fills in knees touching his knees.  Only, I have to be careful to have his hands clean by the time I get to knees or else I then have to clean his pants, too.  William loves baths as well.  He and Mike are constantly fighting over keeping the bath toys in the tub and about not dumping cups of water in his ear.  And William now loves to show off that he can wash himself just like his big sister can.

William has been in stride with Natalie for a while.  He adores her and wants to do whatever she does.  If she is jumping off a stool, he wants to, too.  Natalie pretends to give me food in a cup, then William does it, too.  He watches Natalie ride her tricycle, and then he wants a turn.  He sits on the potty with his clothes on and wipes with toilet paper.  He always gets a hug and kiss from her before bed, and sometimes asks to go in her room for one before nap.  When she shuts him out of her room, he asks "Where Natalie?"

Maybe its from watching Natalie, but William enjoys playing with dolls.  He likes to have the Cabbage Patch Kid my brother passed down to him in his crib.  He calls it "Baby."  He often says, "Night night, Baby" as I am tucking him for the night.  He carries other dolls around and likes to put them to bed or feed them bottles.

But William's favorite toys right now are bubbles and Playdoh.  He would do these two activities for long periods of time, but can not do them independently well.  He asks for help cut shapes out of the Playdoh and presses the bubble wand onto his lips.  But, he asks to play with these toys most frequently.  Coloring and painting he also loves, and he will ask you to do them with him.  He no longer smears paint all over the paper, but instead dips his fingers or a brush.  With crayons, he is also deliberate.  He instead of the arcs he used to make, he draws lines that change direction often.  They look purposeful.  He enjoys using oil pastels the most, but will also spend a lot of time with our window crayons standing up in the bay window  of the living room.  But, glue sticks are probably his favorite art supply.  Even if he isn't going to use the glue, he likes taking the cap off and on.

Willam is a great dancer.  In general, watching young children dance is delightful, but William is especially awesome.  He skips around alternating his arms in the air.  He spins in a circle.  He will hold hands in a circle, and randomly fall down.  And he sings bits of songs we play often around the house, too.

With all this spunkiness, sometimes its hard for me to remember that William is reserved in new situations.  At home, I am so often struggling to hold him down to change or dress him, or shooing him away from his father's toothbrush or climbing onto the kitchen table or climb up the shelves.  When we go places that are new or crowded, he doesn't rush in like Natalie.  William stands silently and watches.  When we arrive at play group, he would linger in the door way still wearing his coat if I didn't shuffle him out of the way. Even when he starts playing, he has long periods of quite play where he is investigating the toys or, more often, just watching the other children.  Don't get me wrong, he is still a mischievous hooligan when we are out and about.  He tramples the book displays on the steps at the library, tries to pull the guinea pig cage off the counter, and presses the alarm button in the elevators.

But none of William's mischieve involves all children.  Excepting some pushing one afternoon when Natalie and her friend excluded him from their play, William does not fight with children other than Natalie.  He will push, hit, tug, and tackle Natalie.  He is just now starting to say the names of other children his age he sees often and engage in some parallel play with them.  Yesterday, he and two little girls all played with the toy kitchen together.  Last weekend, he enjoyed sitting at a picnic table with a boy a few months younger than him as they explored the crayons.  He seems interested in his younger friend learning to do what he can do.  William has no older boys too look up to, unlike Natalie who knows several girls two or more years older than her. 

While Natalie is going through a bossy stage, William is far more sensitive and polite.  He enjoys saying "thank you" or displaying that he knows to take turns.  He helps me clean up his messes without complaint (even if he does dump them out again as soon as my back is turned).  While he has trouble following the rules, he can often tell them to us.  He will remind us "no floor" as we are cleaning his food up.  Most shocking to me: When he does earn a time out for kicking or pushing, he stays in the time out spot for the full minute and half without a peep!

But, he is 18 months old.  He does have tantrums.  William's tantrums are very dramatic.  He storms away whining often throwing his head down on the couch, or if he is really upset, throwing his whole body down on the ground as if dead.  And he scowls.  But mostly he scowls as a game, and can't help but smile if we scowl back. 

I'd be leaving out a huge part of William is if I didn't include how affectionate he can be, especially with his Mommy.  One of William's early words was "hug."  He usually asks for a hug rather than "up."  He gives out far more kisses than Natalie did at this age.  William will even pull our faces into his with both hands to get a kiss!  William is weaning, but currently still nurses at bed time and if he can't go back to sleep during the night.  He leans into my body and I wrap at least one arm around him, so the whole process is really a hug.  When he finishes, we often snuggle for a while longer.  He places his head on my shoulder and tucks is knees into me.  As Mike says, when I hold William, he fits correctly.

I love William's physical body.  At the end of a chaotic day, I love to hold William close and just feel him physically near me.  I can tell he knows what I am saying through those hugs.  And I love it when he plops himself down in my lap for me to read him a book.  He has adorably huge baby feet.  They are just a tiny bit smaller than Natalie's!  A favorite game is pretending they are stinky.  I love how he pulls up his shirt when we talk about his tummy.  His "cheese" smile is so cute as he shows all his teeth and squints his eyes.  His hair is still babyish; it is fine and just now starting to look a bit shabby, though still not really ready for his first hair cut.  When his hair is wet, we can mess it up on top and it reminds me of his Grampy.  I still hope that when it thickens and grows out it will have some of my curl.  The only feature of mine I see in either of the kids is my blue eyes on William.  But even though they are my color, his eyes are large and wife most of the time.  And William still smells like a baby.  Not artificial baby powder or lotion, though we do use them on him, but a smell that is young and vulnerable.  I love to stroke and sniff his hair as we snuggle, and I sometimes sneak a sniff of his blanket, too. 

Right now, William has two loveys: Bankie and Owl.  The more important of the two is Bankie.  Unlike Natalie's Baby Kitty, we deliberately fostered William's attachment to Bankie to help him sleep through the night about ten months ago.  Since then, Bankie has ventured out of the crib into the world with us.  He wants Bankie in the car or if he can see him, but doesn't much think about Bankie otherwise.  I have to admit that I love watching him drag Bankie behind him.  Bankie is light blue with spots, and any type of blue blanket trailing behind a little boy immediately conjures my favorite Peanuts character, Linus.  In fact, if I had to compare William to any of the Peanuts characters, it would be Linus for his innocent and sensitive nature. 

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