Dexter Ian is 23 three months old as of one week ago today, a scant month short of being two years old.
Dex can count to ten, knows his colors, and OH MY GOD I CAN’T KEEP UP THIS CHARADE AND PRETEND THIS IS A NORMAL UPDATE. DEXTER IS DESTROYING MY SOUL.
Well, he was. He’s still being somewhat difficult, but it has eased up these past few days. But for sure, this update is nearly a week late because there was about a five day stretch there where Dex went full-on toddler tyrant and every single tiny thing we tried to do was an ordeal, from getting him out of his crib to changing his diaper to putting on his socks and forget about ever making a bus on time, as that requires shoes and a coat and a toddler tyrant can easily turn those two steps into two hundred steps with various creative acts of resistance.
And tantrums. 23-month-old Dexter is LOUD.
I can’t even be mad. We know exactly why he’s being difficult, and we know what is motivating his uncanny imitation of a pint-sized psychopath.
- Literally, overnight, his world completely changed. Dexter went to bed one night and everything
was normal – pregnant Mommy, Daddy tucked him in, night-night sweet dreams. He woke up the next morning and our friend was here to dress and feed him while his parents were in hospital, which of course, Dex doesn’t understand. Then he got dropped off with another friend, and finally, at the end of the day, was taken to the hospital to see his mom confined to a bed and for some reason, she wants him to meet a wriggling red bean of a baby. The next day, Dexter woke up and Mom still wasn’t there but his grandparents were. Finally, Mom came home but that bean is pretty much attached to her and even though having everyone in the house for two weeks was arguably a good thing – lots of extra attention through the transition – it was also confusing and strange in its own way and probably a little overwhelming.
- Dex used to have Mom all to himself, even if I couldn’t run around and play like I used to, I was still always here and always focused on Dexter. Now I’m
feeding a baby approximately half the day. Several times now, Dexter has tried to crawl onto my lap while I’m feeding – he requests, “Lap, lap,” which was simply unheard of before – and I try to accommodate him without ripping my own nipple off. Sometimes it’s okay, but sometimes it’s unsatisfying or uncomfortable and Dex gives up and does something else while a small piece of my heart is crushed under the heel of guilt. Having Matt around helps. But it’s not the same.
- We are trying really, really hard to keep his routine as close to what it was as possible. I think we’re back in the swing of things but we slipped for a while, there.
- Our flat went on the market. I’ll write more about this later – don’t worry, Team Awesome won’t be homeless – but I can’t imagine having potential buyers (strangers) traipsing through the house was helping matters.
- On top of all these eternal disruptions, Dex is enjoying a language leap, and it’s awesome. At the beginning of the month, I started a list of two-word phrases he’s using because I thought it might be cute in this update but it’s already beyond obsolete. Dexter uses hundreds of two-word phrases and is starting to combine three-word groups. It is exhilarating and hilarious, to hear him finally, verbally express himself with accuracy. And it’s incredibly fun to hear the creative way he combines words, to get his point across. But it is still yet another change for Dexter to absorb and parse, another layer of disruption in his already-disrupted little life.
His reactions have been textbook: a little regression, and a lot of trying to exert control over anything he can.
And like I said, there were a few truly terrible days, there, but now he’s settled into kind of a mid-level tyranny. It’s tiring but we can handle it, and being our wonderful, clever Dexter, he’s offering us plenty of rewards in other areas.
He’s still bright and funny and spirited. I wasn’t kidding above, when I said Dex can count to ten, and if you’re going to hang out with my kid, I sure hope you like to talk about what color things are, because he has them down and he wants to discuss that with you. A lot.
Typical exchange —
Dex: “Mom. Mommy. Mommy. Mom. Mommy. Mommy! Mommy!”
Me: “YES DEXTER?!”
Dex (points at plate): “Yellow plate!”
Me: “Yep. That plate sure is yellow.”
I mentioned his grandparents were here – Matt’s parents arrived the day after Theo was born and stayed for two weeks. You can say I’m being a kiss-ass because his mom reads this, but that doesn’t make it any less true: I won the In-Laws Lottery. Everyone is so kind and caring and helpful, and Dexter and Theo are their only grandchildren. Matt’s folks just adore the boys. Their relationship with Dexter grew even more special during this visit.
After much work, we finally got Dex to say “Grandpa” toward the end of the trip, and now that they’ve left, he hasn’t stopped, frequently bringing up things he and Grandpa did, little games they played and jokes they shared. He isn’t quite there on “Grandma” – he says “Ma ma ma” – but he misses Matt’s mom and talks about her frequently, too.
It was a gift, watching their relationships with Dexter and Theo get stronger and closer.
It was so hard to say goodbye.
The other highlight of 23-month-old Dexter is watching him interact with Theo. I said from the birth announcement that Dex will be a phenomenal big brother and am so grateful to be correct about that.
At the hospital, Dex wasn’t sure about the whole thing. But since everyone has been home on his turf, it’s a different story.
Dexter is very interested in his brother, and very concerned when he cries. Dex gives Theo kisses and hugs and shares his toys with him. He makes sure Theo has his lovey and his paci and Dex loves to rock Theo’s cradle. Matt and I just say, “Gentle, gentle, gentle please,” but otherwise, try to let Dex’s natural desire to nurture his baby brother blossom.
On April 10, Dexter will be two years old, and my Dexter Month by Month updates are coming to an end, replaced by some sort of regular Dex+T.Rex updates, because I can already tell their stories will be far too intertwined to tell separately. I’m not sad about it anymore, though, because now that I have seen our sons’ burgeoning, brotherly relationship start to form, I know that’s the way it should be.
The Adventures of Dexter and Theo are just beginning. And that story? That story is going to be epic.