Isaiah has been extra everything lately. By that I mean he has been extra funny, extra sweet, extra fussy, extra amazing, and extra challenging. The extra fussy and extra challenging parts stem from Isaiah having his first ear infection ever. He made it to almost two years old before he finally had one (he was diagnosed on Sunday and his birthday was on Wednesday.) Michael and I were rather shocked on Sunday when Isaiah became inconsolably fussy, because he is always consolable. He cried for an entire 45 minutes, which he hasn't done since he was a month old. We didn't know if an ear infection was worthy of an urgent care visit to a late night pediatrics clinic, but after he was completely unable to sleep because of the discomfort, we decided that we didn't care if they laughed or rolled their eyes at us - we were going to the doctor. Thankfully, they didn't look at us like we were paranoid idiots for bringing him in; in fact, when the doctor came in and saw the huge circles under his eyes and his sad little face wrapped up in a fuzzy blanket, she exclaimed, "Oh, he looks just miserable." I could have kissed her. Isaiah was immediately given amoxycillin and Motrin, and he slept well that night.
Isaiah was almost himself right away, but he still had a little trouble sleeping and was more easily frustrated. Still, he held himself together pretty well during the day. The tough part came when Michael got home from work. For some reason, when Isaiah has a bad day, he likes to take it out on Michael, which is completely unfair. Even if Isaiah has had a bad day because I have been dragging him around on too many errands or I have been impatient, Michael is the one who bears the brunt of Isaiah's tiny wrath. I was reading in a book called From One Child to Two that toddlers will abuse their parents because they know it's safe. The author said it's something both toddlers and teenagers do to their mothers and fathers because they know that their parents will still love them. It's true that Michael has a gift of near-infinite patience (both with Isaiah and with me) and that when Isaiah meanly refuses Michael's hugs or pushes Michael away as we all snuggle on the couch, Michael sweetly forgives him and tries again. If Isaiah treated me that way, I would probably just cry and pout like a toddler myself.
I've told Isaiah so many times how blessed he is to have such a wonderful daddy, and that so many little boys don't even have daddies to come home and love them. He doesn't really understand that yet, though, and when I talked to my mom about it, she said I would do the same thing. My dad is a meteorologist, and when I was little, he was a forecaster who was rather low of the totem pole, and so he had to work all sorts of crazy evening shifts and weekends. When he came home, all he wanted to do was hold his baby girl, and I would scream every time he touched me. I feel very guilty when I hear about it now, but it does give me perspective that this will end. I have yet to ask Michael's mom if he did the same thing to his own dad, too. I also have a feeling this stage will end rather abruptly when the new baby is born, because Isaiah will need Michael so much. I think one way to help him is to prepare him for Michael’s homecoming each day. I’ve found that Isaiah is much happier if 15-30 minutes before Michael walks in the door, if I start getting Isaiah ready and excited by saying, “Oh boy! Daddy’s coming home soon!” I wonder if he feels that Michael coming home is too much of a surprise otherwise.
Isaiah has finally shown interest in the baby, which came through a funny source. For his birthday, his Grandma and Grandpa Walz gave him a book about having a new little baby in the house, and he refused to read it, look at it, or listen to it for several days. I thought it was maybe too overwhelming for him to think about a new baby at our house, so I let it go, but I was disappointed and worried about Isaiah’s reaction to a real baby if he didn’t even like a book about babies. However, his Uncle Peter had given him a little puppet that looked like a baby seal and came with a blankie and a bottle. He didn't pay much attention to it at the party (because he was surrounded by so many seductive Thomas toys,) but one morning he found it in his toy box and picked it up. He began feeding the bottle to it, and so I put my hand into the puppet's mouth and began to make eating noises and coos. Isaiah promptly became obsessed. I made crying noises, cooing noises, burping noises, and sneezing noises. Isaiah smiled down at the fuzzy little seal like she was actually his precious new baby sister, and we spent almost an hour just feeding the "baby."
Then, when it was Isaiah's lunchtime, he wanted the baby to sit with him, and when it was his naptime, he wanted the baby to sleep with him. When he woke up, I somehow couldn't find the baby seal (it had gotten stuck between two blankets) and so I substituted a baby doll my grandmother had given us. I was worried Isaiah would reject her because she wasn't a fuzzy baby seal, but he just fed her the bottle and burped her and kissed her. He even sang "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" to her, and he gave her one of his Thomas the Tank Engine toys to play with. You could have knocked me over with a feather. At dinner, he fed the doll chocolate milk from his own sippy cup and even stuffed a kernel of corn into her mouth. (We'll have to watch out for that with the real baby, I guess.) Then during bedtime stories, I had Isaiah hold the baby doll while I read the story his grandparents had given him. He actually enjoyed seeing the pictures of big brothers with their baby siblings. Thank you God! I only hope Isaiah isn't too disappointed when he learns his baby sister isn't a silent little doll or a fuzzy seal.
One last thing – Isaiah’s real birthday was yesterday, and so all day we practiced telling people how old he is. I repeatedly asked,
“Isaiah, how old are you?” and then because he didn’t know yet, I answered my own question,
“Isaiah, how old are you?”
Isaiah, how old are you?”
Finally, I asked Isaiah and waited for him to answer. I had to ask three times before he realized I wasn’t going to answer my own question. Then his eyes lit up, he smiled a great big smile and he jumped with joy as he shouted,
“I don’t know!”