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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Golden boy



Today is Jasper's 2nd birthday. We just got back from having dinner with Alex, Luciana, and their almost-two-year-old son, Jan. I made a salad with mesclum, apples, and smoked blue cheese and Lu made fondue. Tragically, the camera batteries are out again or I would have adorable pictures of Jasper and Jan strangling each other out of love and competition. This one is one of my favorites from the summer.

I'm so proud that we've kept Jasper alive for two whole years! In fact, he's turning out to be an especially delightful little boy with many talents and charms. Whenever I see new parents with their first baby I want to tell them, "just wait, it gets so much more interesting!" I'm already forgetting how fascinating Jasper was as a new born and with each new developmental stage. I think it's because as his verbal skills grow and as he learns more about his world we get more insight into who he is, and he endlessly interesting. It's also just amazing to see a human being's consciousness and intellect develop from just this mush of sensory impressions.

Now Jasper is talking in phrases and sentences. It's nothing too complex, mostly along the lines of "I play Elmo game now." But I love that he can tell us clearly what he wants, well, most of the time. I'm working on manners and he finally understands that the "nice" way to ask for something is to use the word "please." He knows his colors and the names of most common animals, including alligators and elephants. We're working on numbers and letters, but he knows he's two years old. Actually, I'm not sure he knows what that means, but he can definitely say it.

In addition to saying "please" we're working on a few new rules. There aren't very many in his life. One is no hitting people, which he violated on New Year's Eve when another toddler party guest TRIED TO TOUCH JASPER'S ELMO DOLL! Another rule is Mom and Dad finish their dinner at the table even if Jasper is finished eating and wants us to play with him. Jasper took this one hard for a few weeks. He would weep piteously as we finished our meal, and it spoiled many a dinner. But we would not leave our plates to play computer games and he finally stopped expecting us to. Now when he finishes eating he gets down from the table and plays by himself until we are finished.

Another new rule is no more nursing in public. This is the first step in weaning. He's taken to this rule pretty well so far, surprisingly enough, which must mean he was ready for it. He should be, he's TWO YEARS OLD for crying out loud. We nurse only at home. He still passionately loves nursing and is nowhere near ready to give it up yet. And frankly, neither am I. It'll be a sad day for both of us when he weans completely. But in the meantime, I think this first step is a relatively easy one for both of us.

Some of Jasper's favorite things, in no particular order: tomatoes, ice cream, ice cream sandwiches, yogurt, little boy cookies (LU Le Petit Ecolier cookies), cheddar bunnies, Annie's mac & cheese, rice, cucumbers, chewing but not swallowing carrots, pasta of any kind, hard boiled eggs but only the whites, all Pixar movies except The Incredibles (too scary), motorcycles, playing "clouds" and "boat" with our down comforter, cats, Old McDonald's Farm, Elmo, Dora the Explorer, cupcakes, dark chocolate, pizza, sparkling water, chocolate milk, tickling, giving and receiving raspberries, swinging, climbing, running, spinning around and around, bubbles, playing with other kids, fire trucks, and elevators. He keeps two pictures of himself as a newborn tucked at the side of his bed.

Jasper enjoys playing with cars and trucks. He is also engaging in more imaginative play, making dolls and puppets sing and talk, concocting soups, pretending to order and eat ice cream cones. He makes mountains and fountains with his Legos and likes coloring with crayons. Oddly enough, he's not that into the finger paints I got him for Christmas because he doesn't like to get his hands messy. He likes to watch me make paintings. I've gotten him to swirl his hands around in the paint a bit. Play dough, on the other hand, is loads of fun. We have a growing collection of musical instruments, including a drum, xylophone, and maracas and he loves these. But some of his favorite toys seem to be random pieces of junk -- a broken pinwheel, and old cup with a bead rolling around in it, vacuum cleaner attachments. I also got him a bag of googly eyes, and now we have an eyeball diaspora scattered throughout the apartment.

In the last 15 years or so women have done a great job of dispelling the myths of motherhood. Thanks to The Mask of Motherhood and Operating Instructions and other similar books women are under few illusions about motherhood. We know children are incredibly inconvenient, take a huge toll on our autonomy, bodies, relationships, marriages, finances and it's ok to say you're struggling with it all. In fact, the maternal narratives I'd read were so effective I assumed I'd be the kind of mother who would want to put the children in daycare, who would crave loads of time to myself and still want to climb the corporate ladder. I thought I'd be a benignly neglectful parent who would ferberize her child at four months and wean once the teeth came in.

I was so wrong. I underestimated the seduction of parenthood. I never knew how pleasurable it would be to surrender to a child. I know full-time parenting isn't for everyone. I hold no judgment against mothers who need more time to themselves. I'm the freak. I'm the weirdo who can't get enough of her son. I can't seem to hug and kiss Jasper enough. Someone was just saying the other day, "he's so cute. Do you just stare at him all day long?" and I said "yes!" Maybe it's because we had him after almost eight years of marriage and ten years in New York (eleven for Lane) and already got our ya-yas out, but Lane and I were just remarking on how we don't even mind staying home as much as we do these days.

I guess what I'm trying to say is you just can't predict how parenthood will reshape your life.

Most days when we leave the apartment Jasper announces, "I walk!" This is the year when he'll make leaps in independence. He'll learn to dress himself, feed himself (better than he does now), use a toilet, make his bed, clean up after himself (more or less), and otherwise define himself as his own distinct person. I'm lucky to have such a cuddly, mamma-loving boy, but I know it won't last. Every parent has nightmares that their child will be kidnapped or die unexpectedly and that's because time kidnaps your child, little by little, right before your very eyes. Eventually Jasper will run away to college, probably on the other side of the country or even overseas. He'll become a journalist and live somewhere distant like Bhutan and I'll never see him anymore. This will break my heart.

But for now he's just two, and thank goodness, he still needs me all the time.

8 comments:

puddle said...

Ah, yes ~~ the seduction that lasts forever (thank
God!). Mine are 39 and 41, and they charm an delight and astonish me in their own fatherhood as they did when they were littles. . . .

Janet M. Kincaid said...

And don't forget, he likes cantaloupe, too. At least, the flavor of it anyway. Texture is another story, isn't it? (I wanted to have a Jasper cantaloupe moment last night when I was fasting in preparation for my upper GI this morning. Boy, there was an experience.)

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JASPER!!

Janet

shaunamama said...

Happy Birthday to sweet Jasper. I love this post! The joys of motherhood....they are truly wonderful. I was thrown off guard by my love of motherhood as well.

Boys are little loves...girls want to be so independent. How many times have you been asked if you're going to have any more children? It seems that when you get married, that's all people can ask,"So, when are you going to have children?" Then when you have one the next question is,"So, when are you going to have another one?" (Insert eye-roll here)
We waited five years before having our children. If I had to do it over again, I'd do it the exact same way.

I have to tell you...I ran into another old classmate the other day. In March she's going to be a grandmother. I feel barely old enough to have my two. A grandma at 37....give me strength!

shaunamama said...

I just thought of something else to add to my comment...

Jasper shares his birthday with some very cool and talented musicians. Rod Stewart, Donald Fagan of Steely Dan, Pat Benatar (huge in the '80's). There's some others too, of course...I just thought I'd list a few.

Again, hugs for Jasper turning two!

Co said...

Happy birthday, Jasper.

I'm not a mom yet myself, so I have no idea how I'll feel, but I had a bit of a revelation when I was driving myself insane earlier this fall trying to assemble applications for doctoral programs. I realized that since L and I plan to start a family next year (we hope anyway), it didn't make sense to apply for doctoral programs next fall. It also didn't make sense to start a doctoral program and postpone having a child for a few more years. Not because I'm so old or anything. I just kind of realized that once I have a child, my priorities might be different. I might decide I don't want the doctorate. I may just want a job that'll enable me to spend more time with the littl'un. It's interesting to hear about how it has changed you.

Also, it's interesting to hear the stuff you've noticed about Jasper's development. I took a class in cognitive development and interviewed a bunch of young children for it about their thinking, and it's really quite amazing to see how they grow in such short periods of time.

Best to the two-year-old.

janeannechovy said...

Happy birthday to Jasper! This was a beautiful post. And you know, I always wanted a girl, but I love my boys to absolute distraction.

And col, we know someone who had a baby just a few weeks into her doctoral program (Michelle Larsen--do you ever see them, A?). As far as I know (I haven't seen them in a while) both the kid and the career are turning out fine.

Swizzies said...

What a lovely post, and that last picture of Jasper is really breathtaking. What a beautiful boy you have! Happy birthday to him. :-)

JA - I have to say as well that your boys are also sooo cute. That xmas photo is precious - Leif is such a doll, and really does look like David, and Anders looks more and more like you as the years go by. You and A are both great advertisements for having children. :-)

It's funny, but no one really ever asks me when/if Scott and I were going to have children. My, and Scott's, family know we're not, and they seem to be fine with it. Maybe I'm so prickly that nosy parkers are prophylactically rebuffed by me before they ask about my reproductive life...? Or maybe I'm just clearly not the mommy type or something? I look non-fertile?? Funny thing is, I wouldn't get at all bent out of shape about being asked about my motherhood status.

liz said...

Aw- this was an amazing post. Thanks, Adrianna, for your deliberate and real words.

p.s. Jasper is adorable and I was glad to hang out!