(Very) Short Stories from the Life of Spencer

Chapter 8:  In which I realize that this chapter should encompass all noteworthy Spencer stories from September through December.  I can guarantee you that my memory is not that good.  That's why I try to do this every month... (Hear Pheobe saying, "That's why you have a kid!" when she learns that Ben goes to school with Sting's son).

In an effort to "let it go," I'm allowing myself to focus on things I can remember from December and attempting to let go of the guilt associated with the "lost months" of months gone by sans an installment of "(Very) Short Stories."

On the puzzle front, things are looking up.  Spencer has acquired more patience as well as more cunning.  He patiently convinces me that he needs help putting his puzzle together--cunning because I have found out of late from his Gigi that he does not, in fact, need much help at all.  More than anything, I think he enjoys the company and the interaction, and I'm certainly happy to provide both.  Still, there's nothing like learning that your two-year old has been tricking you into feeling needed.  I have a feeling that will work in his favor for years to come.  The good news is he can do his puzzles, not to mention he's excelling quite predictably in areas including emotional manipulation and feigning helplessness.  While the puzzle adeptness seems to be a trait from the Kelley side primarily, the emotional manipulation comes in high amounts from all of the gene pools in question.

Few things satisfy Spencer's desire to conquer and climb more these days than pulling, pushing, and throwing cushions off of upholstered furniture and using them as key components in his obstacle-course construction.  A few nights ago, he was jumping from the cushion-less sofa, to the ottoman, adding a few little jumpity-jumps once on the ottoman, you know, to get his speed up, and then jumping "can-opener" style onto the bean bag on the floor in front.  Fortunately for Spencer, he thoroughly enjoyed over-shooting the last jump onto the bean bag and landing heel-then-bottom on the floor.  Thankfully we aren't on a slab and the hardwoods give a little.  He couldn't have been more thrilled.  He immediately jumped up with a huge smile on his face and determination to recreate the thrilling scenario.

All this he did as his grandparents looked on in half-amusement half-paralyzing fear, hoping that the "paralyzation" part never came true.  Spencer, realizing that his Gigi was constantly reaching for him throughout his living room conquests, decided to take her up on the offer.  Without any warning, he careened off of the ottoman, head thrown back, arms out-streched before him, grinning from ear to ear, saying, "Giiiiiii!"  Luckily, Gigi's reaction time is still decent, she got one hand under each arm pit and swung him around in a circle.  Just catching him at a stand-still would have been painful for both of them, because, you know "objects in motion tend to stay in motion..."  So, she wisely worked with his inertia and gradually inserted herself as the "outside force" to bring him to a state of "rest."  Spencer was well-pleased with this arrangement, and convincingly threw himself off of the ottoman many more times that night to be successfully caught and delighted by his Gigi.

Other days, he is happy just to remove the cushions in order to climb and slide down them.

Playing in the backyard is still high on Spencer's list of great-things-to-do-at-any-time-of-the-day-or-night.  And, I'll admit, I've been a little lackadaisical in my efforts to get him out there as often as he'd like.  I'm not a huge fan of winter.  Even when it's not that cold, it's just not as fun as being out in the spring or summer.  But furniture can only take so much, and there is something about the limitless ceiling, the unlimited access to dirt and rocks, and the plentiful climbing apparatus that does a toddler good.  After we'd been out for over an hour the other day, I was getting bored and allergic.  So, I decided that Spencer needed to learn how to race.  I told him we were going to run to the tree, and I said, "Ready, Set, Go!" (of course, he was already half-way to the tree by the time I'd said "Go!" but he was giggling all the way).  He had a big ol' time, and gave the tree a big hug once we'd both arrived.  I kept trying to persuade him to run from the tree on the left side of the backyard to the tree on the right side of the backyard, but he really didn't want me to leave out the tree in the middle of the backyard.

So our multi-disciplinary lesson touched on a number of new principles including  1) running on "Go!", 2) practicing the words "Ready," "Set," and "Go," 3) trying to ignore the tree in the middle of the backyard since it was not part of the "game", 4) trying to understand that games had rules and boundaries, and 5) recognizing when Mommy has gotten too bored after the obligatory hour she'd promised herself she'd play outside with you and realizing that you'd better engage in one of her new games or she'll get so bored she'll bring you inside.  And, last but not least, the sixth and main lesson Spencer took away from it all was:  saying and signing "More! More!" still works great so you don't really have to learn all of those other things Mommy is trying to teach you.

As of late, Spencer has become an increasingly light sleeper.  It may be his last couple of molars coming in or his toddler, age-appropriate desire to be the king of his own castle, but it's making my already mediocre house-keeping really nose-dive into the unacceptable category.  Ever since he "learned" how to fall asleep around four months, napping and bed time have really been non-events as far as struggle is concerned.  Don't get me wrong, if he's out of his routine or sick or not in his own house, he's as maverick-y as the next toddler; but generally speaking he goes down for a nap and for bedtime without ordeal.

Lately, however, he'll want me to put him down as usual; but if Jonathan or I make so much as a peep, he fusses and plays--or even wakes up from a dead sleep prematurely.  He has a noise maker, etc. and I (like every other mom I've consulted with) am vigilant to try to insure that he's not hot or cold, etc.  At first we couldn't figure out what was "wrong" with him, but the more we sat completely still in a house completely darkened for his nap time, it became clear--he can't sleep well right now if he can hear us at all.  Our house is not tiny, but it's also not carpeted, so noises do carry very well throughout.  So, where I used to get him to sleep and then go along my merry little way doing things that are impossible to do when he's awake, I now sit still, avoid phone calls, and attempt to maximize my "down-time" as well as I can, while the dishes pile up, the Christmas decor clutters up the "extra" room, the bathrooms grow new layers of who-knows-what, and I feel more and more behind.  We're hoping this "stage" ends, well, um, immediately.  If you're wondering, yes, I was (and am) a light sleeper.

Other quirky Spencer memories from these past few weeks include his newfound habit of getting a mouthful of milk and then opening his mouth really wide--you know, just to see what happens; convincing Jonathan to put the radio flyer wagon in our back flower beds (which lie at a considerable incline) and pull him around while he lays flat on his stomach; finding any piece of furniture that he is physically able to flip over, doing so, and then lounging and jumping on the bottom of it (on a good day) and ripping off or making holes in the bottom of it and storing his mom's breakable decorative objects inside (on a not as good day); willingly going places with his dad without his mom without crying; taking off his clothes when he sees fit (sometimes getting stuck in his shirts as a result), pointing at letters wherever he sees them and saying "E!" and "O!"; and brightening our short, often dark, winter days.

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