(Very) Short Stories From the Life of Spencer

Chapter 4: May

I should really be making a grocery list. So, seems like it's a good time for some memory documenting. Spencer is, well, he is just himself. And we really like him. We have been going to the zoo quite often (to get our "money's worth" out of our zoo pass). It's VERY effective at waring him out. I think the sweltering heat also plays a small role. He is not afraid of the animals in the least bit. He threw a screaming fit because after one goose nipped his finger through the fence, I tried to keep it from happening again. He was LIVID that I would not let the wild animal bite his hand. Most of the animals don't get as close, of course, and for those he prefers we look for approximately 3 seconds. He then makes his "more, more" sign (while saying "mmm, mmm"), and so we move on. Here he is trying to pet the donkey (he succeeded quite a few times, after which we participated in thorough hand sanitizing). The word he says for "dog" is synonymous for "donkey." I can't tell if he thinks I'm saying "dog" when I'm saying "donkey" or if he can't differentiate what he's saying.

In other news, his self-esteem is still a-ok. Not that it shouldn't be, it's just so funny to see such shameless self-promotion in the form of begging for applause. To be fair, he typically has done something to merit it, and he is more than happy to clap for you if you do something great. After I point to the animals in his puzzle or book and say all their names, he always gives me a round of applause as well as a verbal "AHHHH." Which I think loosely translates as "Yea!"

I'm sure not all boys are fascinated with wheels, but he does seem to have a propensity to enjoy them. Even more, he likes playing with a toy in a non-traditional way.

Take, the non-traditional car ride, for example. Papa Kurt is one of the only people who can successfully use the "distraction" method on Spencer. Usually if Spencer is crying or screaming or generally unhappy with the current state of affairs, "distractions" are not effective agents of change. But, Papa Kurt apparently has superiorly distracting "distractions," and they typically prove quite effective. This particular evening pictured was one of the few evening of late where I did not indulge Spencer's desire to turn on the hose. Thank goodness Papa Kurt came over.

"Look, Mom, no eyes!" Spencer is loving the challenge of doing things with his eyes closed. Here he is dancing and spinning around in circles.

He has fewer accidents than you'd think, but I am somewhat eager for this particular exploration to get boring.
One morning, Spencer decided to spice up the routine. I came in and saw this. I love his expression here. "What? Is this in some way remarkable behavior to you? You really should get out more, Mom."

Even funnier, he just sat there while I snapped pictures of him. He hasn't done that since he was about 4 months old. This unusual turn of events was very typical in one way. He was engaging his hands (and feet, if you looks closely) while watching a movie. Apparently he is working at dispelling the stereotype that males fail at multi-tasking.

My "Mimi" turned 80 this week, and my Aunt Valerie threw her a birthday party on Sunday. Spencer wore his church outfit--a beautiful (gifted from Nana) turquoise linen shorts romper. It really was adorable. However, my Aunt Jan brought a few goodies for Spencer, including a book with huge, crazy monster eyes (a big hit, by the way), a wet suite style swim outfit, and a pair of brown shorts. Spencer was standing by me when she gave me the clothes. He immediately grabbed the brown shorts and pushed them against himself. This is the best way he can communicate that he wants to put them on. I told him nonchalantly that we weren't changing clothes right now, and yes, I liked his shorts too, etc., etc. Well, he was not interested in letting this one die. He vocalized and fussed a little, and I attempted to continue a conversation with someone besides him.

All of a sudden, Mimi comments, "I'll help him put them on." Now, while I'm sure somewhere deep down in his heart, Spencer has love for his (Great) Mimi, he has yet to express it. In fact, he usually grins coyly at her when she addresses him, but refuses to be held or otherwise involved with her. When he was really young, he seemed truly scared of her (she's quite rambunctious). However, upon hearing her offer, he grabbed her finger and started walking off with her. She began to lead him into the other room where there'd be space to lay him down and change him. I watched, fully expecting him to turn around and insist I follow them. Instead, they proceed hand in hand to the living room. He is perfectly still while she takes off his linen romper (read: a no-give, one-piece article of clothing, so it's hard for me to get it on and off of him--and I change him all the time). The next thing I know he is running back into the room full of people grinning, shirtless, and modeling his brown shorts. It was quite a moment. I hope it's the beginning of their newfound friendship. I fear it's the beginning of him successfully manipulating loving relatives for his own purposes. The good news is that most of his loving relatives don't seem to mind a little manipulation, at least not if it's coming from Spencer.

Now, you probably recall my intrigue with Spencer's seeming inability to differentiate some animal sounds and other basic words. For example, if it starts with an "M," he just says "mmmm." No matter what the word is. Well--good news for all of you losing sleep over this issue in my 17 month old's life. We have an "M" deviation! There was a cat at Mimi's party, and after hearing it "meow," Spencer started in with some ADORABLE, high-pitched, strikingly realistic meowing of his own. Ahhh, now we can all relax. I just want to point out that many adults in his life have "meowed" at him, and he has multiple movies where real cats "meow." There's just something about real life. [Shocker] Or maybe he really couldn't do it until now. But he loved that cat, and he would scream at it when it wasn't either rubbing up against him or meowing. Unfortunately, his screaming did not encourage the cat to do either of the aforementioned actions...but we got through it, no shirt, brown shorts and all.

After Mimi's party, we headed over to Aunt Hillary and Uncle Tony's house for a cookout. Oh, the love of dogs. It is still in full force. Note the sheer delight on his little sweet face. Even playing in Aunt Hillary's sprinkler paled in comparison. Unfortunately, it was hot, and Spencer wouldn't stop running to areas of the backyard filled with dog poop. So, this bliss did not last long.

We did let him get in a few pats between all the face licking he'd endured. You can tell he's braced himself for it. I thought he'd be a little more scared, but I thought wrong. While Dakota panted, Spencer exploited the opportunity to poke around on her teeth, gums, and tongue.

There was no shortage of "no no's" to get into in Aunt Hillary's kitchen. However, I finally grabbed some of her metal mixing bowls and handed them (probably not so nicely) to Spencer--desperate to enjoy just 1 sixty second interval of being with my family where Spencer was not breaking something, spitting something out, or crying. He certainly found them to be a suitable form of entertainment. They played right into his "closing his eyes" bit. He put them over his head and ran as fast as he could down her halls and through her living room. He looked a little like a robot. They were also really noisy when they came in contact with the "right" surfaces. So, I think I achieved my goal and then some with approximately 3 minutes of "relaxing" family time.

In other news, Spencer now anticipates the camera's flash. He squints, covers his eyes, and looks away whenever I point a camera at him. It makes taking pictures much less gratifying (for me, at least--he's pretty proud of himself). I wanted to take a picture of how he had carefully put each and every ball from his closet onto his glider. He did not want any part of that picture.

He was too busy plotting his next move: taking all of the balls off of the glider and putting them into the hallway. He gave himself bonus points for carrying more than one ball at a time.
He then proceeded to throw a baby doll into the mix.

Then, I guess, he realized the baby doll shouldn't be thrown on top of a pile of balls. So, he insisted I come over and pick her up--and help him carry all his balls into the living room. That's where they stayed until I picked them up before his bedtime.

Above was a particularly sweet moment, where Spencer (while watching a movie, of course) decided to give me a little side face-hug. Note his arm coming down from my face; before I snapped the picture it was hugging my head. And since it's a sweet memory I did not delete this picture even though I look like I've been experimenting with illegal substances. I can assure you, I have not. I prefer to limit my addictions to legal, allergy-related drugs and caffeinated beverages only. The reality of the situation is that we'd played outside in the hose and eye-makeup (from Sunday maybe?) had smeared under my eyes and then stuck there with a lovely paste of sunscreen and sweat (and maybe bug spray). Ah, (almost) summertime in Arkansas...

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