Over the last couple of weeks, Jude has made it very clear that he is NOT a baby anymore. He has moved firmly into toddler camp, with personality to spare. Active, goofy, and testing all boundaries, all day long. At the same time, he has gone back to being SUPER clingy when he is tired, so it makes for an interesting mix . . .
Mid-morning Jude is usually both hungry and tired. I don't put him down for a morning nap anymore, because then he won't sleep at the afternoon nap, which is crucial to my sanity. I usually just get him a snack when he starts looking cranky . . . maybe a cheese stick or an apple.
I have been learning not to make the mistake of over-preparing Jude's food. Because heaven forbid I peel the plastic off his cheese stick and throw it away. No, Jude wants to peel his own cheese stick, all by himself. Of course, those devilish little wrappers are a challenge for me, never mind an 18-month old with the dexterity of . . . well, an 18-month old. So to maintain the illusion that he is master of all plastic wrappings, I peel the plastic, pop the top end of the cheese out of the packaging a tiny bit, and then put the peeled wrapper back over the cheese.
MUST NOT LET JUDE SEE ME DO THIS! He has a sixth sense for when Mama is "helping" him too much . . . I try to keep my back turned, and peel quickly, or else he will dash around and catch me in the act. And then the cheese stick would be ruined, because who can eat a cheese stick that someone else has peeled?!
Then there is mealtime. Watching Jude eat soup is torture. He gets a tiny bit of it in his mouth, and the rest of it goes in his hair, on the floor, all over his clothes (still not sure how he manages that with a shirt bib on . . . ), and yes, in his eyes. I cannot tell you how many times he has rubbed soup in his eye, and then keeps making it worse by rubbing it more. And to be clear, I don't give him broth soups. This is more like stew, or a yogurt consistency. Or I give him just the solid bits out of a soup with broth . . . doesn't matter, into the eyes it goes.
Watching Jude feed himself anything at all liquidy is enough to make me want to invest in a nice big can of Thick-It. Those of you in the medical field know what I am talking about . . . the powder you put in a drink to thicken it so you can scoop it up with a spoon. (Thickened water = super nasty!!!) I wouldn't daydream about such drastic measures if the kid would just let me help him a teensy little bit.
But no, that is unacceptable. I can practically hear him tell me "Dude. Mom. Just back off, I'm trying to eat here!" And what I can actually hear is him crying. The kid doesn't actually have temper tantrums about this well-meant but unwelcome help. No, he cries like you have just killed his puppy dog. Brokenheartedly. SO SAD! And when he gets SO SAD from Mama's overhelping, the only fix is for him to cling to me like a little monkey until he gets over it. Seems a little weird to me . . . your only comfort is to be cuddled by the perpetrator of the offense?
I try to let him be independent when I can. But sometimes the whole thing is just a little bit crazy . . . if I serve him part of an apple sliced up for lunch, fine. He and Sophia split an apple all the time, because neither of them eat a whole one. But DO NOT cut it in front of him. Full body cling to get over that one.
Not sure if all kids are so neurotic with the independence thing . . . I don't remember Sophia being so crazy.
Eating is not the only area in which Jude has decided he is big man of the house. He climbs now. Everywhere, everything.
I called Jude into the kitchen for breakfast the other day, and he didn't come. Strange, usually he comes running when food is being offered, and hangs off his high chair until I put him into it. Called again, no Jude.
I headed into the next room, and there was Jude . . . ON THE DINING ROOM TABLE! I will admit, my first fleeting thought was "Oh, what a big guy, he got up all by himself, I have to get a picture for John . . . " quickly followed by the more rational "AAAUUUUGGGGHHHHHH! HOW DID HE CLIMB UP THERE IT'S SO HIGH WHAT IF HE FELL HE'D CRACK HIS DOME OPEN LIKE A LITTLE EGG AND DIE!!! OH MY GOSH, YOU HAVE TO GET DOWN NOW!"
Sad times. Jude was clearly (from the little grin he gave me when I first came in the room) sooo proud of himself for climbing up, and very happy to be getting into Sophia's coloring bin (because crayons are super delicious). He was definitely expecting congratulations, not a reprimand. More brokenheartedness.
Since then I have been trying to figure out if there is some sort of indoor toddler jungle gym I could whip up for my climber boy. Like the carpeted ones for cats? Maybe with a bell or two attached? No high surface is sacred . . . he has been eyeing the bar and stools in our kitchen for about a week now. I've seen him standing there in front of it, staring and scheming. He could do it, too, that's the scary thing. He drags a kiddie folding chair around the house with him in case he can't climb directly up onto something. If he would just climb without thinking it thru I'd be fine, because he would be more limited. But hauling a chair around just in case the object of his desire is up too high?
The kid has just about got me beat. I've resorted to putting the kiddie folding chairs in the den during the day when Sophia and friends aren't using them, or else I spend all my time chasing Jude down, pulling him off tables. Even then, I'm still in trouble because he just moves to pushing the kiddie table itself around so he can use that for a boost. So we are working on getting "No!" across . . . he understands perfectly well, but getting him to obey and nip the climbing urge in the bud is another matter. I have to work VERY hard to keep a straight face and stern voice when I say it, because he always gives me that "Yay, be proud of me, Mama!" look, and it's so stinkin' cute! As much as I would love to take pictures of his climbing accomplishments, I can't encourage the little bugger, so no pics will be forthcoming. You'll have to use your imagination . . . just be sure to imagine him climbing EVERY minute of EVERY day when he is awake. That's my boy!