My friend Kristen's son is almost exactly a year older than Joel. Due to sickness and circumstance, I haven't seen Kristen in person for a good three weeks or so. Catching up on the phone, I heard her son say, "Mommy, please," in the background, and felt my stomach drop to my toes.
When did her baby learn to talk in sentences? I've known logically that her son is not a baby, and will, in fact, be two in August. Yet, it still threw me for a loop that my good friend deals day in and day out with two walking, talking boys...and soon I will, too.
Already, Joel is keeping me popping up and down like a Whack-A-Mole. If it's not the tempting, tempting potted plant, beseeching Joel to grab handfuls of dirt, it's the toilet paper roll waiting be be spun, or the filthy shoes waiting to be mouthed. And, yes, there's Joel's new favorite: the stairs.
Quietly, stealthy, he'll crawl over to the staircase, and begin to ascend. Oh,the wonder, the joy of those steps! As he crawls up (with me following anxiously behind), he'll turn around and beam, "Good Lord, woman, this is AMAZING!" then continue up. When he reaches the top of the stairs, he makes a beeline for his goal: another potted plant. The same potted plant, loyal readers may recall, that Owen used as a urinal.
What is it about that plant?
I thwart Joel, carrying him back downstairs, but he's back to the steps, an addict needing his fix, within seconds.
Saying, "No, Joel, I thwart thee!" does nothing.
Thus, this begins the terrifying early toddler stage, which is a bit like living in a Sigma Nu frat house. Buckets of toys are overturned for no logical reason, than abandoned, leaving rubble in its wake. Every movement, every choice, is based on a dare. Why not dangle your hands in the toilet? Why not grab random condiments out of the fridge? Why not pull your older brother's hair, which is akin to poking a grizzly with a stick? Why not lunge for your mother's shoulder blade with your four, diamond-sharp teeth?
A side note on the biting: Joel is a vampire. He lunges, attempting to sink his choppers into my arm, my shoulder, and memorably, Paul's nose. Owen has taken to pointing his finger in Joel's face and saying, "Do not eat people! Only! Food!" Although I would never name Joel after the Twilight series (because it sucks--heh--), his middle name of Edward is, alas, apt.
As you can imagine, Owen's verbal attempts at thwarting are as ineffective as mine. I've taken to saying, "Owen, go take care of your brother." And indeed, like a mobster flunky, Owen "takes care" of Joel whenever he attempts more mischief. He picks him up under his armpits, and toddles him away. He announces, "No, Joel, that's Not. For. You." and plops him down by the couch.
Joel will then immediately turn around and crawl back to whatever he was doing.
This thwarting business will continue for the next few years, but at least I've got Owen the Enforcer to help me out this time.
Things are certainly not dull around these parts. Perhaps my friends with younger babies or no children may soon place a call to my house. As we are talking, they may hear a crash, a scream, or an upended piece of furniture, and feel their stomachs drop to their toes.