My colleague is on vacation and this usually means that I pick up the slack in our two-woman office. Did I ever mention that I love my job and my colleague? That’s not me being facetious. I really do. If I have to work – and I must – then I really could not have found a better place to do so.

So anyways, this place falls silent when work demands crop up. I think it’s because I write that much more when it is just me in the office. So when I sit down to type up a blog post at the end of the day, I stare mindlessly at the computer screen for about 15 minutes and then sheepishly slink away to eat crackers and stare mindlessly at the television.

I cannot be 100 percent sure, but I think two things are happening in the magical world of the Owl. First is the fact that I actually feel a sharp little tooth on his bottom gum. So that desire to never sleep the past two weeks or so? Yeah, it was probably some tooth-cutting action at play. I mean, the child refused to nap. He would be all bleary eyed and nearly nodding off in his bouncy chair, but still there was to be NO sleep, thanks. We’ve also overcome many of the initial grumpies that were the result of losing the swaddle, as Owl no longer punches himself repeatedly in the face as he attempts to slumber. This is a good thing. He does startle himself awake every now and then, but even those occasions seem to be lessening.  Also, doesn’t calling the misery of sleeplessness the “grumpies” make it so that you feel less likely to want to drive a pencil into your eye in response to your feeble helplessness in the face of Infant Strong Will (c)? The second thing that seems to be happening is that Owl seems to maybe, potentially, possibly want to teach himself to crawl one of these days. It’s all very preliminary, these skills, but I saw a familiar arching of the body that I recognize from Penguin’s early days. Mind you, Penguin was about 11 months old when he got the idea in his head to crawl. Owen is just a shade under 7 months. Not. Ready. Yet.

Penguin has taken a turn for the adorable and has a friend. Two, actually. The upstairs neighbors’ children. He even calls them his friends, as in “I hear my friends outside. I want to go out and play with them!” I giggle every time I hear that (silently, inwardly so as not to draw out the fiery wrath of the one that does not want to be paid attention to unless specifically requesting attention please). Then I swing open the door and watch him proceed to carry every train, truck and car he owns out the door so that he and his friends can play. It’s a recent change and one that I find delightful. When we first moved in, about two years ago, the boys would play in proximity of one another, but they would not actually interact. This spring, however, they began to interact with one another and now they really seem to enjoy each others company.

Penguin is a kissy guy. Papa Bird and I are always kissing him. And then, when Penguin accidentally or not-so-accidentally hurts someone, he has the option of saying sorry or giving a kiss and a hug. I mention this because one day he hurt his friend. It was an accident for the most part, but it’s always nice to ask forgiveness even with unintentional hurts. I pulled him aside for a time-out to talk with me about what happened and then mentioned that we would have to apologize before joining in the play again. Sure enough, he walked up to his friend and planted a big ‘ol kiss on his lips. I loved it. And man alive do I wish this would not have to be beaten out of him by my fellow Americans as he ages. But I know that it will be. His little friend now, at age three, took delight and smiled. I don’t think he expected it. It was such a sweet and innocent little exchange. In time, though, if he tries to do this again with a male friend, he’ll get an earful, if he’s lucky, and a punch if he’s not. We really sell our boys and men short here. There isn’t much I can do about it except let it be known that in our house, he can kiss his family all he want, regardless of his age. Papa Bird is of two minds about all this and I understand. I really do. Papa Bird told Penguin that boys don’t really do that with other boys. He told Penguin that it’s not that he cares about the kiss, but he doesn’t want someone else hurting Penguin’s feelings when they let him know it’s not accepted behavior among boys in this country. Later that evening, I told Papa Bird not to talk about this now with him and to let him enjoy his innocence while he still can. The world will be happy to kick it out of him in due time. Then I sat Penguin down and told him he could kiss his friend if he would like to do so. I think he listened to me and not Papa Bird, as I caught he and his friend giving each other kisses just yesterday.

I feel as though Penguin is really starting to develop a language that allows him to express his emotions. It’s been a welcome event following the toddler and early preschool years. I always say “preschool years,” but Penguin does not go to school. But I digress. If he is upset now, I can usually get him to calm down after a bit and talk about what is bothering him. It’s new and a work in progress, but I see such promise in this. If my Penguin takes away anything during the course of me raising him, it is that I always want to be the person he can come and talk with about anything. Anything at all. I see the glimmers of that on the horizon and I am very pleased indeed.