Our Feisty Little Bird at 16 Months

Our little chunk-a-monk is 16 months. These “month-a-versaries” seemed so important with Jaybird, and I often wrote updates to commemorate them, but as is the case with second children, Starling isn’t getting the same treatment.

Not that he cares! He’s busy. He has a packed schedule. Most days, his to-do list includes: climb the furniture, remove things from cabinets, put shoes on hands, grab cats’ tails, throw food on floor, follow his brother, attempt to get his brother’s Legos, cry when interfered with …

He’s really got quite the agenda. It amazes me, the way he never stops moving. There are peaceful moments, though, too. He loves books, and sitting in laps to be read to. Favorites include such scintillating titles as “Rough and Tough Cars and Trucks” and “Hello, Texas!” (why?), but also “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” “Mommy, Mama, and Me,” “Goodnight Moon,” “I Like it When,” “I Am a Bunny,” and on and on. I’m impressed by this early focus and interest.

Starling is social, loud, and opinionated. He enjoys a hubbub. He has some stranger anxiety, but he warms up fairly easily, and likes to hand our visitors books with the expectation that they’ll scoop him up for a quick read. It’s fun to watch the way that he tracks faces, imitates tone, and makes himself heard. He babbles constantly; it sounds like a made-up-but-grammatically-consistent language that you’d hear in a fantasy movie. If you whisper, he’ll whisper back. He has some words that we can make out. These include “uh-oh,” “hi,” “mama,” and “kitty,” which sounds like “k-eee.” He likes to laugh, and make himself laugh, and he’s starting to give hugs and sloppy, open-mouth kisses. A favorite game is to steal the glasses off your face. Not really as fun for the adults, that one.

He’s feisty, too. All toddlers are working on autonomy. All toddlers protest when they don’t get their way. Starling, however, is extra-vocal in this regard. He screams and growls like some kind of crazed gremlin when he’s prevented from getting something or going somewhere. The other day, I shut the door to Jaybird’s room, thus preventing Starling from reaching the bounty of choking hazards inside. He collapsed in a sobbing heap, pressing his forehead to the floor. I tried to distract him with a wooden toy snake he likes; he took it from me and threw it, hard.

We’re making some attempts to night-wean him. If (when) he wakes up between 12 – 5, Uno goes in to offer comfort. He does not get milk. This enrages him. He was so loud about it last night that there was no hope of me getting any sleep, either. (She did manage to settle him. He does accept defeat, but it takes a while.) I felt guilty, but also determined, because it’s time. I need more sleep. We’ll get there.

Uno and I think that Starling is even more strong-willed than his brother. He’s a bit of a bruiser, too – tall, solid – and he doesn’t know his own strength. This combination makes him a little difficult to manage. He scratches, pinches, pulls, hits, grabs. Sigh. A lot of this comes out of frustration that he can’t do everything his brother can. He’s also very jealous of any attention that Jaybird gets. As soon as Jaybird is, say, sitting in one of our laps, Starling toddles headlong towards us and tries to wedge himself in.

They play together well, sometimes. Jaybird is generally attentive – if anything, hyper-vigilant about whatever Starling should or shouldn’t be doing. He likes to play chasing games with his brother, and they giggle hysterically together, which is heart-meltingly cute.

In general, I’d say that Starling is larger, louder, and more verbal than his brother was at this age. He’s … zesty. He’s also very happy, most of the time, and often content to toddle around exploring things and transporting items.

It’s interesting to see myself in him. He looks like my baby photos, and his brown eyes, so different than Jaybird’s, remind me of my sister’s. Perhaps his verbal tendencies are inherited – but I don’t want to ascribe too much to genetics. The world is so eager to do that.

At 16 months, Starling’s world is expanding. He understands more; he’s on the cusp of talking; he’s nearly running. I don’t get to witness these changes as much as I’d like. I miss him when I’m at work. I do enjoy the orderly, adult world of the office, and I’m not worried about Starling during the day. But by late afternoon, I start to get antsy about seeing him. I feel a deep tug. He’s quite delicious. I don’t think I’ve conveyed just how sweet, squishy, and funny he is. I don’t usually post photos, but take a gander at him in his Halloween costume this year, and you’ll see.

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