Owl has always had a deep and abiding passion towards our telephone. Roughly once a day, he’ll toddle over to the phone and play with the handset, the buttons or the Ooma control panel. Incidentally, if you call our house and reach no one – ever – this is why. The volume is generally turned all the way down or the unit is powered off or the phone has been off the hook for hours. I’d say try my cellphone, but then you run the risk of me having not charged the battery. Smoke signals? Smoke signals might work.

Anyways, Papa Bird relates this charming story from yesterday. Owl plopped himself down in front of the phone and picked up the handset, saying “Allo? Allo?” In my head, I hear it as the sing-songy way in which I say hello and goodbye. The boys have a strong tendency towards my pronunciation and enunciation. As they get older, that will probably switch to Papa Bird, who has the charming drawl of a stoner. I suspect they’ll find that way cooler than my chit-chatty tone.

I’ve noticed that Owl has been mimicking quite a bit as of late. If he sees you do something, he wants to try it out for himself. I used to give him a small bowl of dry Cheerios to nibble on in the morning before breakfast, but now he is only content to sit in my lap and share my bowl of Cheerios with me. Apparently, when you are nearly 14 months old, it is just tooo infantile to ingest Cheerios sans spoon, Ikea bowl and soy milk. He’s also starting to point to the things he wants. I think I can remember Penguin communicating in that way about this age. The difference being that Penguin would more guide your hand toward the item so that you may hand it to him. He is an excellent student of the school of “Do this for me.” Much of Owl’s current pointing involves the cabinet that contains the graham crackers and Goldfish crackers. He has not really discovered the awesomeness that is sweets and cookies yet, so we have a little time before two children are throwing temper tantrums on the floor for my refusal to relent to the 10:23am cookie break.

Penguin seems to have come out of the other side of a big developmental leap as of late. He’s starting to be a person that you can maybe, sort of rationalize with. Not totally. He’s not always receptive to the idea. But I am trying to impress upon him that it is in his best interest to work with Mama because she tells him all he needs to know to get what he  wants out of life. Some days, he is very receptive to this and then other days? I can only describe them as being willfully contrary. If I had superpowers, I might actually be able to see him digging his heels into the ground and steeling himself for battle. I see it unfold before me.

Let me give an example on both fronts. If Penguin is dawdling and I need him to eat and finish up dinner, I can sometimes successfully encourage him to finish so that he may get to the desired dessert and the toy time. I just let him know that he is holding up the show. If he stops and listens, he seems to understand. Then there are the contrary days. I’m laughing about this now, but I wanted to run and hide in the closet when it was happening. Penguin wanted Papa Bird to read a book to him but Owl was sitting on said book. Naturally, the course of action was to push Owl off the book, leading him to fall over. I told him that there would be no book reading until I heard an apology or saw evidence of a hug or kiss to show his sorry. He crossed his arms and said no. I picked the book up. He hit me. I took the book away. He hit me again, so I grabbed his arms and said “No!”  At that point, I was angry and I said so. He started to cry, so then I took him into our bedroom and sat him down. We  talked for a minute. I apologized for grabbing his arm and he apologized for hitting me. I told him that there was still one more apology on his agenda before the book came back. I pointed to Owl in the playroom. Penguin entered the playroom and began hugging everything BUT Owl. His books, a stuffed animal, the blanket, etc. I didn’t give him back the book (which I had placed out of sight) and he stalled until the very last minute before he finally relented and gave Owl a little apology pat.

I – uh – understand the tendency towards opposition. Papa Bird practically lives off the heady mixture of exasperation and sighing that follows his willful intent to say or do the exact opposite of what I have said or done. With Papa Bird, I ignore all but the most egregious examples of this behavior. I wonder if I should take a similar approach with Penguin. It’s harder for me to step back as his mother since I have to Instill Life Lessons To Prevent Social Ostracization © at every turn.

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