Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Dad Files Months 17-18: Painting with Spaghetti, The Scientist, and Tantrums

With entry into the full on toddler phase comes the continued strong opinions and tantrums. These can include the bucking bronco, arms flailing, flinging himself while hands filled with poop diaper changes and may require multiple adults to get him properly changed. There can be a roller coaster of emotions as sometimes he wants you to hold him and 5 seconds later he pushes you away and then implores you to pick him back up immediately after putting him down. If you and your wife try to hug each other, he may express jealousy or push you away if she's holding him and you try for a group hug. On the especially grumpy days, a visit outside with a change of scenery or taking him for a walk can reset his mood and makes for a much better experience all around.

With lots of doctor and urgent care visits he may begin to develop an aversion to medical providers and will express great displeasure with them even being in the same room as him. Distraction tactics like playing with a toy, singing songs, etc. may need to be employed to allow nurses and doctors to check his pulse or use their stethoscope to examine him.

It's probably true throughout all of life but especially at this stage the toddler is essentially a scientist who is exploring, experimenting, and figuring out the world. What is edible, how do drawers open and close, if I yell what response does that get me, learning words to communicate and name different items, learning how to balance and walk while standing up, how to pet the kitty with gentle hands, and how to turn the sippy cup so he can get the last bit out using a straw.

With language development, you will see a progression from single words and unintelligible sounds to unrelated words grouped together such as "all done moo kitty," to two word sentences with meaning such as "no mama" "no dada." When putting him to bed if he wants you to leave and says "bye bye" and you haven't quite finished your special time with him, it can be a little sad.

Daylight savings time does not exist in the toddler's world. What previously was a 5:45 am wake up time for him will become a 4:45 am wake up due to an unrelenting circadian rhythm. You can get him back on track but it will take some grumpiness late in the day to push his bed time late enough so he'll sleep according to the new time.

In helping him learn to walk while giving him your fingers or hands to hold on to, you can direct his path similar to leading someone in dancing. Otherwise, he'll roam free range around whatever area you're in. This new mobility will also allow him to take energetic and noisy laps around the house while holding on to a horse, shopping cart, or other object with wheels. Those first few independent steps are exciting for everyone but will require lots more practice. He can get a little over eager when walking between parents and it will seem more like controlled falling at times.

His new found strength and fine motor skills can result in pulling off a bib if that doesn't suit his preference. This also can turn dinner time into a finger painting with spaghetti art project that covers toddler, his plate or tray, the floor, walls, you and anything else he flings sauce at. Taking off articles of clothing to save on additional laundry work is not a bad idea. It's also highly recommended to change out of work clothes before feeding him any sauce oriented meal.

Swimming lessons can be fun, water torture, or somewhere in between. You will learn many songs as you splash and play, splash and play and dunk the toddler under the water. Swim lessons at this age are supposed to help develop core strength, coordination, comfort level with the water, and how not to drown.

It's lots of fun to see all the new developments he's making but they also bring new challenges. Keep savoring each moment, each day, and record videos and take pictures since it passes quickly. Love him, sing to him, read to him, play with and pray for him. The Lord is on the journey with you and will guide you in it.

In pursuit of His best,


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