(Very) Short Stories from the Life of Spencer

Chapter 3: March

Spencer did a somersault by himself in his crib! We had a towel rolled up under one end of his mattress since he'd had a cold (to elevate his head a little to hopefully help him breath more easily), and I think the slight elevation helped him realize that he could do it. He then went on to do them in his crib at Gigi's without any rolled up towel at all. I've never "taught" him to do it, so when Jonathan came down the hall and told me that Spencer did a somersault in his crib, I thought, "Well, what is your definition of the word 'somersault'?" But, let me tell you, it is a PERFECT one! After I saw him do it, I felt bad for doubting Jonathan's notification. Spencer can't or won't do them by himself on the ground yet. I think it's easier to have the cushy mattress pushing back on you rather than the hard floor. But, he has tried it a few times and we've helped by giving him a little push.

I walked into the living room earlier this month and saw this. Like any good mother, I ran to grab the camera. We did ok until he decided to get down. He bent over to put his hands down to back off of the ottoman, but only managed to put one of his hands down on the ottoman. He put the other hand down on thin air, thus ending the photo session and beginning the tears and feelings of guilt and regret.

We have found the remote control both in one of my dresser drawers and in Jonathan's backpack that he takes to work. We also found a small wrench (from a set of wrenches Jonathan was using the other day) underneath the couch cushion. It appears Spencer is quite the little hoarder. I wish he'd tell me where he's stashed all his pacifiers.

In other news, Spencer thoroughly enjoys using his fork and spoon and has for a couple of months now. Sometimes he does it more carefully than others, but he will try to put things on the fork and then get it into his mouth. He loves to put his spoon in his yogurt or applesauce, but he doesn't do as good of a job at keeping it facing up so that he can it in his mouth as opposed to in his lap--that doesn't seem to bother him, though.

Lately, Spencer loves to gets really riled up when we have family over in the evenings. He lets a crowd gather, and then he walks to one person and gets their hand, he then proceeds to pull the first person over to the second person and then he takes the second person's hand. The job gets harder from here on out, since he has no hands left; but with much gesturing and corralling he makes sure to get every person present to follow him into his room. Then he makes everyone sit down. He'd make an excellent sheep dog. At this point, he gets so hyper that whatever interaction any tries to have with him from this point inevitably turns into him screaming at the top of his lungs, clapping as hard and fast as he can, and twirling himself round and round in circles. Finally, he'll run out of the room and get distracted by whatever is on the tv. He'll leave us all in his room indefinitely. BUT, if we try to come back into the living room, he starts the hand-holding / corralling all over again. Additionally, if I try to give him a bath while we have company over, he will fuss and climb out of the tub unless everyone stands in the bathroom and stares at him. And we don't have a big bathroom. It's quite a sight to see. Ah, the perks of being a firstborn--everyone obliges quite willingly!

He LOVES to rough house. He loves to be thrown on the bed and tickled over and over. He will sign "more! more!" if you quit. He loves to be thrown into pillows, dragged across the bed by his feet, dropped onto the bed from as high as you can get him, and tickled relentlessly. I always wear out way before he does. Along the same lines, anytime I lean over to pick something up, he giggles and then tackles me. He loves to climb all over me. He always wants me to lay down so that he can stand on me. This was fun for a while, but he is so big and strong now that I'm pretty sure he's going to hurt me soon. Unfortunately, when I say, "Ow! You hurt mommy," he shows no concern. It usually just spurs him on. I don't smile or laugh when I say it, because I only say it if he really did hurt me, and I'm trying to teach him not to do it. But, yeah, he's not concerned. Maybe the empathy part of the brain hasn't developed quite yet.

However, in the morning when he wakes up, he routinely wants his huge stuffed dog put into his crib. He immediately covers him up with his blanket (and requires you help him get it on the dog just right). He then either sits on top of the dog, or hugs him, or offers the dog a paci and a cup of milk. It's really cute, and it makes me think that empathy HAS in fact developed, but that he'd much rather exercise it with his dog than with his mommy. And, I have to point out (mainly because I hope I remember this someday) that we never showed him how to offer his dog his cup or said, "Does the doggie want any milk?" or cued him to do this in any way. One day, he just walked up to his dog and offered him his cup. Oh, their little minds!

We have attempted to have more "play dates" lately--you know, between whatever virus of the week we've managed to eradicate from Spencer's body. And, I have really enjoyed them. Spencer, not so much. I've been amazed at how opposed he is to settling in to play when there are other people around that he doesn't know very well. He acts totally different than when we have family over. It surprises me that he is like this, but I think it's a little big of his daddy's personality. Also, he doesn't care for the other kids touching his toys--and that's totally normal. Thirdly, I'm not sure he knows what to do with me focusing on other adults and attempting to not focus on him. And finally, I think he's really peeved when the other adults aren't focusing solely on him (but instead on their own children). Needless to say, we have to do this more, both for my enjoyment and his potential enjoyment. And we will. I just hope he hurries up and enjoys it! He doesn't shy away from social play in general. He loves it when we go to someone else's house. He just gets a little "maverick-y" on his own turf. Update: as of this morning we had a very successful play date! I only invited one mommy and her two little ones, and I think that might be key with Spencer. I was very relieved to know that I can now cross"sociopathic tendencies with visitors" off of my list of things to worry about.

One of Spencer's beloved movies has actors and animals in it (as opposed to cartoon characters). At one point, Mary and her little lamb take center stage. As Spencer was watching this at my parents' house the other night, he immediately jumped up and (in his own way) called Angel, their bichon. He wanted Angel to come sit by him so he could pat her like Mary was patting her lamb on tv. After all, Angel does bear a striking resemblance to a little lamb (at least in to a 1 year old), and we all had a good laugh.

Spencer's aunt Hillary was generous enough to give him some croutons off of her salad last night at dinner. However, after a few uneventful bites, Spencer thought he'd challenge himself by attempting to stick the whole thing in his mouth (this was a very over-sized crouton from a restaurant--I'm not as over-protective as I may be sounding at this point). When he tried to consume it with little success, I assisted him in taking it out of his mouth. He showed no appreciation for this act of precaution. Then, I broke it into a couple of pieces, while he screamed at me and started turning purple, all the while keeping my cool and telling him what was going on. Then, since his mouth was wide open from screaming, I stuck one of the smaller pieces in there, to encourage him to move on from his disappointment and enjoy the savory crouton. This was seen as an act of aggression. If we hadn't been in public, I would have left it at that. Children can sense your desperate desire for them to stop screaming themselves blue in the face. He was motioning for Hillary's salad, and we handed him a (smaller) whole crouton. He IMMEDIATELY shut it off, popped it in his mouth, and went on with dinner. I looked up to see both of my parents making very little effort to hide their uncontrollable laughter. This story is really only funny if it is not your responsibility to teach this child alternate ways of dealing with these horribly frustrating life events.

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