Category: parenting

Two new phrases

The Little Man’s vocabulary is expanding by the minute. Two new multi-word phrases emerged just this evening. The first is “Help, please!” We taught him this as an alternative to whining. He likes playing with the vacuum cleaner and not five minutes after learning the phrase, he said, “Help, please!” when he couldn’t get a little door on the vacuum open. All of the sudden, he’s using it more and more.

Tonight is bath night, and before dinner, I mentioned a bath to the Little Man. He seemed completely neutral. But after dinner, out of the blue, he ran up to me in the kitchen and said, “Daddy, shower!”

I said, “Do you want to take a shower?”


“Okay!” So we took a shower and he loved it.

His teacher at school says he knows the name of every kid in the class and that there is one girl, a few days younger than him, that he is particularly fond of. He always tries to sit near her. Apparently, he has a girlfriend.

Language explosion

I am behind on my posts on the Little Man, who is coming up on 20 months. I tried really hard to keep a list of all his words as he said them, but he’s had such a language explosion in the last few weeks that I’ve lost track and will never catch up. He is fascinated by keys and will walk down the main hall to the entryway where the keys hang and say, “Keesh! Keesh!” He will go to the shoe box, and say, “Shoosh!” and then try and put his shoes on his little feet. He knows every form of transportation: “Cahw”, “Eh-pain”, “chump-truck” (which can be dump truck, garbage truck, or tow truck depending upon the context). He knows various directions, especially “Upah” and “Downnn”. He loves to turn on and off the “Laya” (light). His favorite drink after mee-mee (milk) is “appajuice”. There are so many more I can’t even list them all. But I must say that at the moment, my favorite of all his words is “dough-uh” (door). It just sounds so a-dough-uh-rable when he pronounces the syllables.

In addition to vocabulary, he’s developed quite the personality. At present, he doesn’t like no for an answer and when you say no, or tell him that he can’t so something, he performs what can only be described as a kind of whining bow. I have to bite my tongue to keep from laughing. He knows how to play hide-and-seek and tag. And he still has the Best. Laugh. Ever.

I really wish I’d kept better track of the progress of his vocabulary, but I can’t imagine trying to keep up at this point, especially now that he’s getting into multiple word phrases like, “Daddy upah” and “Mommy shoosh.” But I’ll continue to report those amusing things that he says (or will inevitably say) probably well into his middle-age.

A touching moment with the Little Man

Kelly went into the Little Man’s room to check on him and turn off a space heater that takes the chill out of the room at night. She accidentally woke him up and he was not a happy camper. I got him some milk and sat in the rocking chair with him so that Kelly could go back to bed. I sang to him, Bing Crosby tunes, as usual, and after about 15 minutes of this his eyes were looking heavy. I paused and rocked him for a moment. My eyes had adjusted to the dark and I saw him open his eyes for a second and look at me.

“Do you want me to sing to you some more?” I asked him.

And with a look of complete calm on his little face, he whispered,” Yeah.”

I started to sing again and he closed his eyes. But wow, what a cool moment.


When the Little Man is in a grouchy mood and in need of a nap, it is often my job to get him to sleep. It takes persistence, but I find that singing him lullabies calms him and eventually puts him to sleep. (Granted, he may decide to go to sleep as a way of escaping the sound of my voice.)

I don’t sing him the traditional lullabies, most of which I can’t stand. Instead, I sing him a variety of Bing Crosby songs. Most frequently, I sing (in no particular order):

  • Far Away Places
  • The Wiffenpoof Song
  • Sam’s Song
  • Dear Hearts and Gentle People
  • Trade Winds
  • Where the Blue of the Night Meets the Gold of the Day
  • Gone Fishin’
  • Road to Morocco

Usually I get through four or five songs before he finally falls asleep, but as I know more than 150 of Bing’s songs by heart, there are always plenty more to choose from.

Kelly thinks this is a little odd of me, singing songs from the 30s and 40s to the Little Man instead of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” but I honestly think he enjoys it and maybe when he gets older, he’ll come to appreciate these old songs as much as I do.

Or maybe he’ll grow to hate them. Who knows?

The Little Man Cries Fowl


At the Grandparent’s house, there are several life-size, wooden models of birds. It turns out that the Little Man is afraid of these. There was one, standing on the floor, half again as tall as the Little Man and he would look at it suspiciously and walk past it carefully, never taking his eye off of it. He would skirt around the perimeter of the room to avoid it, and eventually, it had to be hidden away.

There is a second bird (pictured above) that hangs in the room as if it is gliding. The Little Man looks upon it with great suspicion. However, I’ve discovered that if I call it an “airplane” instead of a “bird”, he looks at it in a different light, no longer scary. Unfortunately, there’s no way to call the other bird an airplane.

It’s the first time I’ve ever seen him afraid of anything like that and it was a little amusing to see him react that way.



The Little Man loves giving high-fives. I suppose this is true of any little boy. When we were at his Parents Night last week, he went around the entire circle of people until each and every one of them had given him a high-five.  You see, once you ask for a high-five from the Little Man, it won’t stop until he is certain that everyone within his sight has also gotten a high-five. Really it’s rather sweet.

But the most hilarious example came last night, and although this will sound made-up, I assure you that it is not.  Some background: one of the Little Man’s newer words is “baby”, which he pronounces as “bobby”. If he sees a baby, he will point and say, “Bobby!” If he sees himself–say, in a photograph–he will do the same thing.

So last night we were up in the master bathroom. The Little Man had done something particularly amusing and I turned to him, picked him up and said, “High-five!” He got a big smile on his face and proceeded to produce a most excellent example of a high-five. He then immediately looked around, as is his wont, to see if there was anyone else he could high-five.

But you’re ahead of me. He caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror, leaned out over the sink and give his reflection a most excellent high-five, a look of pure, gleeful satisfaction on his face as he did.

I could barely contain my laughter and nearly stumbled down the stairs as I rushed to the kitchen to report the incident to Kelly.

18 months and the big charade

On Sunday, the Little Man turned 18-months. According to some sources, this makes him a “toddler”. I don’t care if other sources disagree, I am going to say he’s a toddler at this point. It’s hard to imagine that 18 months ago he was a tiny little thing that you could practically hold in one hand. He has more than tripled in weight, plus, oh yeah, he can talk pretty well at this point now, and in most circumstances, he can get his meaning across pretty clearly.

On Friday night, we skipped my office holiday party in order to attend “Parent’s Night” at the Little Man’s school. We got to sit in low chairs at low tables and watch the kids do the kind of activities they do during their school day. Zach showed us how he played with different toys, including putting beans in a slot in a tin. That kept him occupied and made me think I want one of those for home for those times when we need to keep him busy. He showed us other toys, and then showed us how he puts his toys away.

“That’s remarkable,” I said to him, impressed by the display of dexterity and coordination.

“It’s really nothing, Pop,” he said.

“Is that so?” I scratched my chin.  “In that case, would you mind demonstrating that proficient coordination and consideration when we get home and pick up all of your toys there, too?”

The Little Man frowned, “I’m sorry, Pop, I’m still just a little baby learning the language.  I’m not quite sure I understood what you just said.”  And before I could say anything else, he ran off to commiserate with friends, and perhaps warn them that I was onto their charade.

Later, the kids gathered round and sang us songs in several different languages. At once point, the Little Man took it upon himself to walk around the circle of people, giving every one of them a high-five. He is a high-five-batcher. It seems he can’t give a high-five to just one person, but must do so for everyone in sight.

On Saturday evening, we headed down to Mount Vernon where we met our friends to take a candlelight tour of the mansion and grounds. We lucked out on weather. It was cold, but not freezing and the grounds were lovely in the candlelight. The Little Man and his Somewhat Bigger Friend had a blast walking/running/being carried around, but when it was all over, the Little Man got somewhat cranky and cried nearly the entire drive home, which is pretty unusual for him.

Nevertheless, he slept very well last night. He’d been to a party earlier in the day and partied his little heart out. He looked pretty tired when he got home. I asked him why he looked so tired and he said, “I think it’s because I’m getting older.”

“I know the feeling,” I replied.

Little Man’s language evolution

I’ve noticed over the last few weeks and explosion in the Little Man’s vocabulary, both in what he can say and what he understands. At just a few days shy of 18 months, he understands quiet a bit. The other day, I asked him where his nose was and he pointed to his nose. I asked him where his eye was and he pointed to his eye. I repeated this with “feet” and “tummy” and he got them all correct. I was impressed, especially since we didn’t teach him this. He must have picked up at school, which makes me very happy with the school. He doesn’t say these words yet, but he understands them very clearly. He also understands “kitchen”, “downstairs”, “upstairs” and “bath” although he doesn’t yet say these words.

But he has been saying more. “Mama” has evolved into “Mommy” which he says constantly and which he uses not only to refer to Kelly, but also as a general, “I need some attention here” catch-phrase. He can say “shoes”, “puppy”, “airplane”, “happy”, “up” (e.g. pick me up, although he pronounces it as “up-uh”), “bus”, “choo-choo”, “tree”, “apple”. Many of these are fairly new. If I ask him “where’s dada?” he points to me. He can say “bottle” and “water”. And of course, both “Yeah!” and “No!” are very big, too.

He knows what he wants and he generally understands how to get it. If we don’t respond to his pleas in a timely fashion, he’ll take up by the hand and lead us to whatever it is he needs. He is also getting good at predicting behavior. When I read to him at night, we always finish with the same book (The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton). On the last two pages are pictures of the moon. I usually ask him “where’s the moon?” and he points to it. But recently, I’ll finish reading what’s on the page and before I can ask him, the Little Man points to the moon.

It’s pretty amazing to watch his capacity for language grow like this. He can say a lot more words than he could just a few months ago, and he understands ten times the words he can actually say. Kelly and I don’t talk down to him, and we generally don’t talk “baby-talk” to him. We try to pronounce the words properly, even if he gets them wrong (he says, “wawa” for “water” and “me-me” for “milk”) in the hopes that eventually, he’ll learn the proper pronunciations more quickly. Sometimes we slip, but generally I think we do a pretty good job.

I wonder how much more he’ll be able to say in six months?

Come in a lot of times

The Little Man was sound asleep when I got home from running my first discussion at the the Arlington Writers Group last night. Normally, I am the one who reads to him and then puts him to bed. He has gotten much better at this. Generally speaking, he no longer cries when I put him in his crib. I tend to linger a little longer, hugging him while he stands there, holding his monkey and his bottle, and telling him that I’ll check on him before I go to bed.

So last night, as I have been doing every night for a few weeks now, I crept quietly into his room, and peeked in on him.  The Little Man lay sleeping, face down on his crib, one arm around his monkey, and half-laying on his empty bottle. I lingered long enough to hear his breathing and then I went off to bed myself.

It’s funny, but when I tell him that I’ll check on him “later”, I feel obligated to do it, even though I know he’ll be sound asleep and won’t know that I’m in there checking on him. I think it reminds me of when I was a little boy. My Dad would tuck me in and before he left my room each night, I’d say to him, “Come in a lot of times.” Of course, I would fall instantly asleep, and I have no idea if he actually came in “a lot of times” or not. But I felt good just making the request.

Incidentally, the Little Man slept for 12 straight hours last night and woke up with morning with a big smile on his face. That’s some way to start off the day!

(Not?) A Laughing Matter

Yesterday while we were sitting in our family room hanging out with friends, the Little Man dumped onto the carpet a bowl of apple chips he was munching on.  I picked them up and returned them to his bowl (5-second rule) and gave him the bowl, reminding him not to dump his food on the floor.  He grinned at me with his Evil Grinchy Smile and proceeded to dump the chips once again.

I did my best impersonation of a stern parent and I said (without raising my voice), “Zip, NO! We don’t spill our food on the floor.”

It was at that point that the little fiend turned out his lower lip and burst into tears.  I mean the waterworks were really running.  He was terribly upset.  And it was at that point that the usually even-keeled Kelly had to bury her head in a couch pillow because she was laughing so hard.  Of course, her laughter made me start to laugh and I had to turn away from the Little Man so as not to laugh in his face.  I pleaded with Kelly, “I didn’t do anything wrong?”

“No,” she said, “you handled that just right, it was just so funny, I couldn’t help laughing.”

It made me realize just how difficult it can be to be a parent sometimes.  I wasn’t angry at the Little Man and I didn’t raise my voice, but he knew he’d done something wrong.  I felt terrible for making him cry (and he knew that I felt terrible, believe me), but it was the right thing to do, regardless.

My parents must have had it easy, what with such constantly well-behaved children as we were.  I’m certain they will object to this characterization, but I recall my parents friends and extended family members constantly commenting on how well-behaved we were, and I submit that into evidence as exhibits A, B and C and rest my case.