Dexter Ian is seventeen months old today.
Many parents will tell you that they chose to have a child so they could experience the world through the eyes of a child, with all the wonder and awe that accompanies youth and unchartered experiences.
Dexter is taking this concept to a pretty literal level. He now knows how to say “Wow!” and “Whoa!” and “Yay!” and “Oooh!” and he exclaims over all manner of things, all day long.
Dexter spots the gardener running the lawnmower at the hotel: “Wow!”
Dexter picks up an empty paper towel roll: “Whoa!”
Dexter finishes walking down the stairs (with help): “Yay!”
I bring Dexter his daily banana: “Oooh!”
Oooh! is my favorite because he says it over relatively mundane things that please him. He says it like I would say it if you told me you were going to get a snack and I was expecting, like, pretzels but instead you walked in with a spectacular cupcake.
Dex also occasionally does a happy dance and you never know what’s going to rev his engine so it’s always a funny surprise when he starts bouncing around.
He’s added a couple of words since 16 months – I can only think of “upstairs” and “belly,” off the top of my head – but Dexter is clearly understanding more of what Matt and I say. Our interactions are becoming more meaningful, like I can ask Dex to find something and he does. Sometimes, he surprises us, like the other day when he was running down the hall and Matt said, “Go to the living room!” and Dexter immediately switched directions and took a hard right into the living room. (I’m still not 100% convinced that one wasn’t a coincidence.) Or like the other day, when I scolded him for throwing food on the floor and then turned around and he was doing this:
(He still throws food on the floor.)
Weekdays when Matt’s at work, it’s Dex and me. Sometimes I feel like we’re the old married couple, instead of me and Matt. Almost every single morning, we grocery shop together. About half of the time, Dexter exclaims “Wow!” over and over as I roll him up and down the aisles and usually I echo it back. The other customers LOVE us. Dexter and I have running jokes and little routines and yes, we annoy the crap out of each other sometimes. Somewhere along the way, he’s gotten the impression that it’s acceptable to steal Mommy’s fries.
Speaking of food, Dexter adores bananas. Bananas disgust me. Yet, I serve him at least one per day because he’ll reliably eat them and let’s just say Dex is not going to get any muscle cramps. I have mentioned watching him eat them grosses me out but he really took it to the next level last week, rubbing a banana chunk back and forth across his face, coating himself in a spit-and-banana-goo beard.
I am still traumatized. I really, really love that child.
Because Matt works weekdays, it’s clear he’s really valuing his time with Dex. They play together HARD, in the evenings and on the weekends, which is great because I get to take a mini-break, and just sit back and watch.
Wait for it…
We’ve only been here about a month. It feels like three months at least, and everything is intense. The lows are extra low, because we’re without our support system to deal with challenges and can only rely on ourselves.
But that means the reverse is true, too. I made a joke when we were stuck in the hotel that the bonding was extreme but it’s true. Our family unit is tight, getting tighter every day as new hurdles, experiences and sights bring us closer. And Dexter, at 17 months, remains a key part of it, because through all the hard stuff, Dexter keeps us focused on what is most important: our family and how much we love each other.