When Garrett was at his doctor's appointment I had to fill out a questionnaire that asked me things such as do you shake your child off your leg when he just won't let up on the whining and have you ever considered locking him in the backyard and taking a nap? To which I was like, wow, are these things personalized? And then the doctor came in and she was all, "So what is he doing to challenge you?"
Me: Um. He's really stubborn.
Me: (to myself) Already? He's been a mule since he was 18 months old. (To her) Well, he has two stubborn parents so, yeah. It doesn't surprise me.
Her: Do you find it difficult to deal with him since you're both strong-willed?
Me: Actually, I find that it works well. When one of us is at our wit's end, the other one steps in and won't back down. I think he's just as stubborn as we are but we're bigger. It works well.
Her: Excellent. The more you can battle that now the easier he'll be when he's older.
Me: That's what we're hoping for.
Her: Sounds like you've found a groove that works for your family.
Me: Oh don't get me wrong, we have our days.
Her: We all do and I'd say you were lying if you told me otherwise.
Me: And I would be.
Her: (laughing) Toddlers are tough.
The real questions on my little survey were things like how much milk does your child drink in a day and does he sleep through the night and is your child exposed to second hand smoke? But the final questions were these: What do you find the most challenging about this age and What is the best thing about this age? I'm sure you've guessed that I answered "stubbornness" as the most challenging. The other night Garrett refused to eat scrambled eggs. Scrambled eggs have been one of his most cherished foods for well over a year. And he flat refused to open his mouth and taste even one bite of them. He always wants to be held when I am trying to cook dinner. And I do mean always. If Troy isn't home he climbs me or throws himself on the floor and kicks and screams or anything else that might delay the dinner making process. Sure, there are things I do to curb this incessant need to be in my arms. I put him in his high chair with crayons and paper. I give him play-doh. These things pacify him for a good five minutes before he wants down rightnowrightnowrightnow! Stubborn. Mule like. Relentless.
But the answer I wrote down for the other question makes all the stubbornness somehow bearable. I simply wrote down Discovery. I wish I kept track of everything Garrett discovers in a single day. I wish I chronicled his every hysterical conclusion drawn. I can almost see connections fusing together in his brain. Just behind his eyes there is a flicker of recognition and then sheer delight on his face. The other night there were tiny, whole mushrooms in our dinner. As I stabbed one with my fork Garrett pointed at it, smiled, and declared, "Turtle." Apparently, from where he sat, my mushroom looked like a turtle shell. Now, I didn't particularly want him thinking we go around eating turtles (especially because he is quite fond of Crush on Finding Nemo) so I explained that it was a mushroom. I don't know if he believed me. Yesterday we were working on his puzzles. He's been pretty hit and miss with puzzles and, truthfully, I hadn't busted them out in quite some time. He knew where almost every single piece went. He didn't always have the patience to get it lined up just right but he certainly knew the shapes. When he wakes up in the morning, if I get him instead of Troy, he asks, "Daddy home?" If Troy is not at home I say, "No, daddy's not home right now." He then replies, "Daddy church." It doesn't matter if Troy is at the church or not--although he usually is--that is always Garrett's solution to his whereabouts. Watching him discover turtles in my dinner and numbers in a puzzle and clues to where his daddy might be is nothing short of amazing. My baby becoming a stubborn little person before my eyes is incredible.