Ed. note: I've been waiting to publish this post until I download pictures. I keep forgetting to download pictures. Instead of keeping you waiting until my memory returns, I'll post this now and post pictures later.
Throughout Zack's two and a half years on this planet (funny, somehow it seems like he's always been here), there have always been periods where we can almost hear things clicking in his brain, when he suddenly just gets something. That has happened recently with his independence. While he's not quite ready to set up a household of his own, he is suddenly capable of getting a juice box out of the fridge, taking it to the table, shaking it, taking the straw out of the wrapper, putting the straw in the box (without making a mess), drinking it, and then throwing it in the trash. Completely without the involvement of either Rob or I.
Ummmm...hello? Who is this third person in our house?
Honestly, I don't miss the baby stage like I hear some parents do. I'm really enjoying his toddlerhood much more than his infancy. But it's quite a surprise--a pleasant one--to suddenly have this much more independent individual in our house. I don't know how many times a day I hear "No, Mommy. I do it." And usually he can. He's helped me make sesame noodles by putting in the sesame seeds and mixing the sauce. When we get home for the evening, he rushes ahead and opens the gate for me. He carries his food over to the table for dinner. He's given up his booster seat and sits on a regular chair. He's starting to try things out like washing himself in the shower and putting on shirts. He has two best buddies at school to whom he is apparently stuck like glue.
Important for Rob's and my ability to negotiate is his increasing understanding of If-Then statements. As in "If you want me to read a book to you, then you need to climb in bed and not empty the contents of your dresser."
He does get frustrated more quickly, particularly with us and particularly at the end of the day, but he pretty easily snaps out of it. He continues to be a very happy, cheerful little boy with a huge sense of humor.
We've been getting a lot of artwork from his school. They do some pretty neat projects including a lot of paintings (11 kids wielding paintbrushes! bless those teachers!), and he's clearly very proud of what he's done. We hung the first project up on the fridge. When he came home with more a few weeks later, he showed me exactly where on the fridge he'd like to hang it and corrected me when I started hanging it upside down.
I haven't taken very good care of the flower beds in the front of our house, mostly because I haven't been able to have Zack out there with me. He takes advantage of it not being fenced in to suddenly sprint down the sidewalk and generally not stay anywhere close to me. However, I was tired of looking at the weeds along the front walk, so the other Sunday, when Rob took Zack with him to Home Depot, I headed out front. When they got home, Zack wanted to come out with me. And surprise, surprise, he did great! He got his watering can, filled it with water, and watered all the plants (all on his own--I didn't suggest it). He helped Rob put together a compost bin. He helped me haul bags of mulch to the front yard and got his first wheelbarrow rides. He picked up empty plastic bags in the wheelbarrow. He helped Rob loosen soil for reseeding. He was really helpful and we ended up having a lovely afternoon!
The other Saturday night we went to our favorite pizza place. This place seems to have some sort of magical effect on Zack because he always behaves really well there. All we have to say is that we're going to get pizza near the choo-choos and he's half way out to the car, talking about it all the way. It helps that they cater to kids (without being a kid restaurant), and they're near the railroad tracks and across the street from the fire station. We sat outside and had the good fortune of seeing several trains, two ambulances and a fire truck leaving the station, and one ambulance coming back to the station. He ate lots of pizza and was quite happy to get some ice cream for dessert. What was super sweet was he talked about it before he went to sleep, and the next day he told Cecilia all about it, too.
He wanted waffles one morning, so I put some in the toaster oven and told him that when he heard a "Ding!" the waffles would be done. Clearly this process was not moving fast enough for him because he pulled his stool over to the counter, got up, and popped the lever on the toaster oven which resulted in a "Ding!" He looked at me, grinning like the Cheshire Cat, and said "I did it! Waffles done!"
He continues to love being at school. In fact, it's taken some doing to get him to leave this week! He has two best buddies that he hugs before he leaves. They do a lot of arts, and did water coloring this week. One of the aides in his room said that he was one of the few kids that got it, that most kids load the paper up with too much water or don't quite understand how to get the paint to the paper. They're starting yoga next week--I can't wait to see what he thinks of that! I may even have to stop by one day to watch.
The other night Rob was making dinner while I was in the dining room with Zack. Rob asked me if I wanted to go outside to get him some fresh basil. Before I could even answer, Zack was heading out the door. I followed him to see where he was going. He was going to pick some fresh basil, of course! He headed straight for the correct pot and picked some leaves, which he took inside and handed to Rob.
One day this past weekend he woke up a bit cranky from his nap. Rob was trying to soothe him, but he just wasn't having it. I got out two new cans of Play-doh and started playing with it on the table. Nearly immediately there was a "What's Mommy doing?" He just had to come over and see what I was up to, and then try it himself. We then spent probably the next hour playing with Play-doh--it was so much fun! Well, except for the part where he wanted me to make a sea horse. Thankfully his standards aren't too high!
Just this morning, after I told Zack I was going to get on an airplane to go on a trip, Zack very adamantly told me "No Mommy airplane!!!!!" And so with the increasing verbal ability comes increasing feelings of guilt. Oh joy.