It is quite an adventure, wrangling an almost-two-year-old. Okay, he’s 19 months old, but close enough. He’s sometimes a baby and sometimes a little boy, the two states occasionally at odds with each other. The little boy wants to play with toy cars, but the baby wants to snuggle with mommy (that’s our current catchword for breastfeeding). The baby wants mommy to feed him, but the little boy wants to drink from a big cup by himself. I know that all too soon he’ll lose his little baby hands, he’ll stop breastfeeding, and he’ll eat like a proper little dude, but for now, chaos rules.
Dinner with an almost-two-year-old is primarily messy. Of course, you knew that; even I knew that going in. But the routine of our dinnertime is more than just “messy”. When I set down Gus’s plate of meat, vegetables, and maybe some rice or noodles, he is enthusiastic, excited, it’s finally “Dinner!” After one or two bites, dinner’s old news – it’s time for “Milk!” or Water!”, which he will enthusiastically slurp for one or two sips. But then that gets boring, too. Maybe it’d be more interesting to combine things, so the milk or water is poured over the dinner. Unappetizing to me, but to a toddler it combines the fun of eating with the splish-splash of bathtime. Now that dinner has been modified to its messiest consistency, it’s time to start throwing food. Now, at first, this was usually directed towards the floor. Lately, though, Gus has been throwing his food right at me! Really, Gus? Really? Like I rushed home from work and daycare to prepare a home-cooked meal just so you could throw it in my lap?
By this point, I usually just take the food away, and wait for him to be ready to eat again. And often the only way to get him to actually consume food is to feed him myself. Part of me thinks I should just spoon feed him front the start, but the other part of me thinks that playing with his food is really not that big of a deal. Until I get a handful of baked beans in the face…
Everywhere. All the time. Does this ever end? I don’t know, but right now, a Gus without a toy in his hand is probably an alien clone. His crib is full of toys – animals, balls, a plastic dump truck, toy cars. When he wakes up in the morning and once he is safely back in my arms, he immediately points to the toy he wants, which stays clutched in his hand throughout our morning snuggle, breakfast, getting dressed (imagine the horror when the toy is too large to fit through a sleeve), and leaving for daycare. The toy of the day (usually a car, a magic ball, or lately his Shrek doll) rides in the car all the way to daycare, where we spend a few minutes negotiating the release of the toy to wait in the car. Finally he says “bye” to his toy until that evening, when they are reunited again as we are leaving daycare. The toy will stay through dinner and sometimes bath. Finally, for our evening snuggle, a toy car will drive up and down my breasts, or a ball will sparkle and glow with multicolored lights. Tonight, it was a toy cell phone. Yes, my son looked like he was texting as he nursed.
The idea of breastfeeding a toddler is wonderful. The reality? Negotiating with a willful, toothy child to let go of your nipple is not so wonderful. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’m going to keep it up for as long as he needs it. It’s just not what I expected.
I learned the hard way that detaching him myself was no longer a good idea. That’s when the teeth clamped down emphatically, and if he could talk around that mouthful of boob, he’d be saying “WTF, mom? Do I look like I’m done?” I started asking him to please, please let go of my nipple, but that only worked for a few days. These days, I spend about 5 minutes trying to convince him that he is done, and that more exciting things are to be had if he would only please stop nursing! I even tried to trick him. Last night, I tried to get him to talk, thinking he would let go of my nipple to say a fun word. Nope – the little turd just smiled around his mouthful and hummed an approximation of each word, his eyes sparkling with malicious glee. That’s all right, I got him back tonight. When I said “Look, Elvis!” and pointed across the room, he immediately let go, and turned around to look. I win!
All The Rest
What can I say? The rest of the time, Gus is pure joy. (Okay, most of the rest of the time, when he isn’t hitting me or someone else with a toy, he is pure joy.) He is starting to sing along in the car. He plays the drums and the guitar with equal intensity. He gamely tries to say every word we throw at him. He tries to feed cantaloupe to his Shrek doll, and loves to help sweep the floors. He is healthy, happy, intelligent, and humorous. He tries to make us laugh, and slyly checks our reactions to see if it’s working. And it usually works.
I love my little Gus even when he throws food and holds my nipples hostage. And he has my nose.