On Friday, January 6, 2012, we celebrated Clark's second birthday. His two years of life have been the most exhilarating, heart-stirring, amazing years I could have ever dreamed of. He has brought so much joy and contentment into our lives, and I know my purpose in this life was fulfilled the day he was born. God chose me to be his mother. Aaron to be his dad. Griffin to be his brother. And since Clark has been in my life, I am truly happy. There are just no words.
Two years old. He is definitely a two year old...that is all I have to say about that. I'm not going to say he is in the terrible two's, because there is and never will be anything terrible about Clark Rice. But he has entered a phase of life where he is quick to test boundaries and he will do whatever it get takes to get a reaction from you. He'll bang his spoon on the table as loud as he possibly can just so I will tell him to stop. He will scream at the top of his lungs in the car just so I will have to scream even louder to ask him to stop. He will eat play doh just so I tell him to stop. He takes pleasure in those little things, which is why my most frequented prayer request to God is to give me more patience and self control than the average person.
I’m simply amazed at how smart he is. He gets that from me. He learns new things by the hour and has the memory of a (insert anything with a great memory). He talks all day long and we can finally have real conversations where there is a very legitimate exchange of words. He can easily tell us what he wants as opposed to just pointing and grunting and this has eliminated about 85% of frustration from both parties. Some of my favorite things he says right now are: “Thanks welcome.” He doesn’t understand that one person says thanks and the other says you’re welcome. He just says both. Same thing with “How ya doing good great.” He asks and answers himself how he is doing. Most of the time he shortens it to “How doin’ great.” He loves to find any surface with a downward slope and walk down it and say “Weeee slide.” These things won't sound funny to anybody in the world except for me and Aaron. But we love it and laugh every single time.
Something I am so excited about is the simple fact that about two weeks before his second birthday, he trashed the pacifier. It was an incredibly easy process. I told him he couldn’t have it anymore because he’s too big. He said ok. That was it. He did ask for it a few times at bedtime, but I told him no, and he never fought it. It was easy as pie. He doesn’t even try to steal Griffin’s pacis. Even though sometimes I wish I had a dadgum paci in the car when he proceeds to scream at the top of his little lungs and there is no escape route, I’m glad to have ended that stage in his life. I don’t like them but I will always have them for babies. It's a love/hate relationship.
Another big milestone he is working on is the infamous potty training. My method of potty training is probably the most unconventional method ever and I wouldn’t recommend it to any other soul on this planet. But it is working for us pretty well, and I might be the least stressed out mom ever because of it. When we are at home, Clark is naked. Not even a diaper. Bum naked. He has a little Elmo potty in the bathroom, and when he has to go he runs in there and uses it. He’s doodoo’d in it a couple of times and pees several times a day. He definitely understands the concept and doesn’t need my supervision and usually doesn’t even tell me before he goes. I’m scared to go straight to undies because when he is wearing diapers, he doesn’t hesitate to let it all out and I don’t know whether or not he would do the same thing in underwear. But maybe I’m not giving him enough credit. I’m not going to worry about it and I plan on just waiting for him to give me some assurance that he’s ready. So in the meantime, he stays in his birthday suit. And he loves it. And I love seeing his little hiney running around my house. I’m mentally sick, but you know that already if you’ve ever read even one thing on this blog.
Clark is definitely in a stick-everything-up-his-nose stage right now. I decided this was the case after I spent thirty minutes one evening trying to dig a kernel of corn out of his nose. That sucker was wedged up there pretty good and I was getting ready to load everybody up and go to the nearest ER. Eventually Clark got tired of it being there and blew it out along with three pounds of boogers. Well I guess he decided it was great fun because he sure did get a lot of attention for it, so now anything smaller than the tip of my pinky is at risk for going up the nostril. I’ve learned if I ignore him and act like I don’t see him doing it, he’s not as interested. Ah, the mind of a toddler. It’s as foreign to me as nuclear physics and more.
When it comes to food, I hereby declare Clark the worst consumer of food in the history of all two year olds. I don’t know when or where I went wrong, but at some point several months ago he decided food was overrated. He’ll eat the heck out of some fruit and string cheese and that’s about it. He will literally go six meals in a row where he will eat the equivalent of a peanut. I have tried everything but I am determined to not make meals a battlefield, so I’m just going to trust that he is not stupid and will eat when/if he gets hungry. If he could eat a steady diet of chocolate chip cookies and coke, I’m sure he would tell you that would be fine. But I like to think I’m a better mom than that. I’ll just let him go hungry instead.
The last two weeks of Clark’s second year of life were highly traumatic because he got a new little brother. We tried to prepare him for this for nine entire months. I think he is still processing some of it, as in, the reality that this little baby thing is actually going to live with us forever. What I do know is that Clark loves Griffin. I sincerely believe he loves the little guy and is so affectionate towards him. He loves to kiss him, poke his eyeballs, hug him, spit on him, help put him to bed by screaming in his ear, and rock him in his bouncer to the point that Griffin is airborne. The transition from one to two kids has been relatively painless, minus a couple of moments of severe tantrums and one really bad day on Clark’s end. I had so much help from Aaron, my mom and Aaron’s mom that I think we managed to distract Clark enough to make it through the day. Although I have been a little taken aback by his separation anxiety since Griffin was born. There have been several occasions where he did not do well at all when I had to leave him. This is odd because in the past, he'd yell "holla!" when I walked away. This past Sunday at church they had to page me out of the service because he was so upset. I’ve read this is completely normal when a new baby comes into the picture but it breaks my heart. I am hoping time will heal this scenario.
On a different note, what I never realized until Griffin arrived was just how LOUD Clark Rice is. He has an impressive set of pipes in him and they are the most noticeable when Grif is trying to fall asleep. That is why I bought an industrial strength noise maker that is so loud I don’t think we would hear a bomb go off in the next room. It’s definitely helping the G-man sleep better and I’m a lot less stressed because I don’t freak out when Clark does his hourly lung strengthening exercises.
Some things Clark loves these days are Cars, both the Pixar movie and any automobile. He loves garbage trucks, mail trucks, tractors, school buses, helicopters, trains, airplanes, 18 wheelers, 4 wheelers…are you seeing a theme? If it has an engine, he is fascinated. He loves being outside more than anything in the world. He enjoys coloring, reading the same three books, slides, running, playing hide and go seek, Blue’s Clues, swimming in the bath tub, picking boogers and placing them anywhere he wants, seeing his friends at school (Mother’s Morning Out) and church, playing football with his dad, jumping in water puddles, pointing out every single thing he sees and telling me what it is, Chuck E. Cheese with Aaron, listening to the toddler radio station on Pandora in the car, singing Itsy Bitsy Spider and You Are My Sunshine, helping me cook, wearing the boots that his Geezer got him for Christmas, talking in third person, walking in any room and yelling “HEY!”, giving Aaron, Griffin and I big slobbery kisses and sweet hugs, and being awesome. He is definitely awesome.
The thing that blows me away the most lately is just how big he is. I know this is because he is always next to Griffin, and Griffin looks so tiny to me (even though he is a fairly huge baby). Yesterday was a really tough day for Clark. I had to discipline him a lot and he was unusually temperamental so it felt like all day I was saying no or threatening him with spankings (which I hate doing but seem do it all the time because it works like magic). The whole day sucked and I don’t really know what went wrong. It started at church and lasted all day. I was so ready to put him to bed at the end of the day and start over today. But last night at about 11:30 after I fed Griffin, I started thinking about how bad I felt for Clark that his day was so bad and wanted to make it better, even if the day was technically over. I went in his room and picked him up out of his crib while he slept and rocked with him in the rocking chair for about an hour. I couldn’t believe how big he was. He felt so heavy on my lap and his long legs and arms were draped over my shoulders. Even his breath seemed heavy. It boils down to this: he’s just not a baby anymore. He hasn’t been a baby for a long time, I realize this. But lately he seems so mature and I’m kind of not ready for it. But what choice do I have in the matter? Not much of one. He’s going to keep getting bigger, one day bigger and taller than me, and I’ll need to be a big girl about it.
We love this kid so much. There are days we don't get along and there are plenty of parenting moments I am not proud of. But he always forgives me and doesn't remember all the times I lost my temper. I am still cool to him. He lights up when I enter a room and I do the same when I see him. I hope this lasts forever. My goal for the next year of his life is to slow down and enjoy him. I want to savor his little Clarkyisms and write them down so I never forget them. I want to stop being too busy to sit on the floor and color with him. I want to let him play in the bathtub for as long as he wants. I want him to be fearless. I want to stop saying no so much and let him learn his own way of doing things. And my biggest hope is that he starts to understand the gospel and love Jesus. Our church will play a big role in that, but it is definitely mine and Aaron's responsibility. Big things will happen for Clark Rice this year and I get to see every single day of it. What a blessing. Being his mom is what I am least deserving of but most grateful for. I'm looking forward to the shenanigans that Clark gets into this year and hoping I can keep up. He is definitely a dark shark on the prowl.