Theo’s birthday month has officially come to a close and as we move into full blown two-year old toddlerhood I want to try to capture the little person he is at this moment. Each day we feel so aware of what he can and can’t do, his likes and dislikes, the little nuances of his personality and the extreme highs and lows we feel as parents. However, although we know he’s changed so much in the past year, and even in just the two months since we’ve moved to Australia, its hard to pinpoint exactly how he’s changed. And every week as we adjust to the new person he is becoming our memory of the person he just was seems to slip away.
One of the biggest downsides in moving to Australia has been taking away from our family and friends the ability to interact daily with Theo and to feel the joy and amusement that Matt and I get from watching him (but, hey, we’re also saving you from all of the temper tantrums and screaming fits, so it might be a bit of a wash). I find myself trying to share tidbits of the little person he is becoming in e-mails, Facebook messages and texts and to post pictures of him on Instagram all in an effort to include everyone in his life. It never quite feels like enough, but it’s the best we can do right now.
Here’s a couple of pictures of one-year old Theo – he seems like such a baby here to me!
And now here is at two years old (there are barely any traces of baby left in him):
Theo still is an incredibly active, on-the-go little boy. He rarely sits still for a moment and is constantly running, jumping, kicking, throwing something or rolling around. Getting him to settle for meals is almost impossible and we’ve mostly given up the battle and given in to picnics on the kitchen floor. His favorite games involve throwing or kicking balls or riding his scooter. We’ve started working on the balance bike too. He’ll ride it around the house or down our side yard, but isn’t very confident on it yet.
Theo’s favorite new toy is a second hand play kitchen we recently purchased. He’ll pretend to cook at his kitchen while I’m cooking or preparing meals, stirring pots and buttering noodles, and loves serving up food (although we are still having trouble convincing him of the idea to just “pretend eat” and all of the plastic food still goes in his mouth and gets chewed).
Theo is incredibly social and confident. He says hi to almost everyone we pass and approaches other children with no fear. It is so different from how I was as a child that it amazes me to watch him. He’ll walk right up to a group of kids and stand in the midst of them until they include him (or just wander off and find a new group if they snub him). An American family we’ve been exploring with the past few weekends has a daughter his age and they are becoming good friends. He’s a bit bossy and insists she holds his hand whenever they walk up our steep driveway or when he’s trying to guide her towards the nearest playground. But he is also really sweet with her, always trying to share his stuff and give her hugs goodbye. They will sit together while they eat and have little conversations or run around chasing each other. It’s really fun watching as he learns to engage with others and slowly starts understanding social cues.
Theo has always displayed a lot of emotion, both good and bad, and his sensitive side is becoming more apparent. One of his favorite words these days is “happy”. When we announce that we are going for a bike ride or to the beach or to visit someone he’ll declare “happy!” to let us know he likes the idea. He also likes to say “nice” when he finds something super agreeable, like if something is soft to the touch or if his bathwater is the right temperature. He draws out the “i” so it sounds like he’s a little southern boy.
His displays of emotion aren’t always happy these days though (not that they ever were). In the last couple of weeks he’s started throwing the full tantrums where he collapses to the ground and lays there kicking and screaming. He is very impatient and gets easily frustrated. Car rides often turn into full on screaming fits if he decides he is hungry and isn’t provided with food immediately. He still despises strollers, car seats, or anything that confines him.
He’s becoming very aware of ownership and often tests his limits. He points out objects around the house and identifies them as “Mamas – no no” or “Dadas – no no” meaning they don’t belong to him and he can’t touch (and then sometimes proceeds to grab them and smirk at you).
I think the move has had a lot more impact on Theo than we anticipated. In the months leading up to the move he didn’t seem very aware of changes or particularly attached to things and so we didn’t spend a lot of time preparing him for the change because we didn’t think he’d really understand it. However, I think it was in exactly those few weeks during our transition that his comprehension elevated to a point of being able to at least partly understand what was going on. Just a week or so before we left he started using the word “home”. Within the timespan of four weeks he slept in four different “homes” – our Encinitas home, my mom’s house as we prepared to leave, our Airbnb when we first arrived in Sydney, and then our new permanent home here in Curl Curl. He actually calls our home here “new home,” announcing it every time we arrive home.
Sleeping was the hardest transition for Theo during the move. When we moved into our home in Curl Curl we purchased a toddler bed for him thinking that it would be a good time to transition. He wanted nothing to do with it, so he continued sleeping in his pac’ n’ play for a few weeks. However, he was waking up at least 2-3 times every night and then waking up for good at around 5 AM. For a couple of weeks Matt and I felt like we had an infant again and were completely distressed thinking it would never end. We decided to forego the toddler bed for a while and ended up purchasing a crib. Within two nights of being in the crib, Theo was back to sleeping through the night and sleeping in until 6:30 AM.
Daycare has been another rough transition. Every drop-off and pickup for the first three weeks were accompanied by dramatic meltdowns and hysterical crying. Finally, by the fourth week we just got a few whimpers during drop-off. However, he still protests the entire way there insisting “me, mama, new home!” We get photo updates throughout the day though and he is always happily playing and engaged in each of them, so I think its mostly just a show for us. He also is getting really attached to his teachers and classmates. He loves going around to say goodbye to everyone and gives out lots of hugs at the end of every day (and even blows kisses to other parents picking up their children).
Theo talks a lot about people at home and will tell us little stories or point out things that remind him of them. We made a photo book with pictures of all our family and friends to bring with us and he pulls it out most nights before bed to look at. We point out people and remind him of little details about everyone. Just last week he started realizing that he is the baby in many of the pictures. He started proclaiming “baby me!”
We will be home in just a couple of weeks for a visit! We can’t wait to see everyone and spend time together. And Theo will be thrilled to entertain you all with his new antics and jabber away (good luck guessing what he is saying!).