Monday, March 18, 2013

Two years old

On March 3 we celebrated Elliot’s second birthday. It was quite different from his first birthday, when he had never tasted cake, had no concept of presents, and was coming off a bad cold. This year was fun. Elliot was excited and had such a great time. He was showered with gifts and love from family and friends, and the day couldn’t have gone any better.

For Lauren (my wife) and me it was fun to reminisce about developmental changes that had happened in the last year. Our running joke has been “remember when he used to be sweet and cute” – of course in actuality he still is, but now that his personality is starting to form, we’ve come to the harsh realization that we are raising a “strong-willed child.”

Watching him grow is such a personal experience for us because we see much of ourselves in him—both good and bad. When he is contemplative, he shares the exact same facial expression as his mother, with the lower lip slighted pushed out to the side. He’s inherited her sophisticated palate when it comes to food and is not afraid to let us know his opinion on everything he dines on. From me, he has learned the fine art of negotiating—even at this young age he wants to bargain about everything to make sure he’s getting the best deal.

But there’s one characteristic that we just can’t figure out: his daredevil streak. Anyone who knows me knows that I adopt a safety-conscious and risk-averse approach to just about everything. I check the dates on food obsessively; I wash my hands incessantly; I drive the speed limit and wear the maximum amount of safety gear for any activity I participate in. Lauren is much the same way. She never goes into a situation unprepared and prides herself on always being one step ahead.

Imagine our surprise when our son, who so closely models our other behavior, has a wild streak that keeps us up at night. He will bound down our staircase without a thought of what might happen. If we are outside, he will make a beeline for the street, pool or whatever poses the greatest danger. He makes the same mistakes over and over, as his skinned knees and cat scratches will attest.

As you can see from the video, it took him only a few days to abandon the correct operation of his new Wiggle Racer in favor of a more adrenaline-filled approach. As he gets older, Lauren and I continue to try to emphasize safety, but for now our tries with him seem to be falling on deaf ears.

Who knows? Maybe one year from now this blog will be about how for his third birthday we drank expired milk and played with fireworks, but the smart money says our “strong-willed parenting” will win out in the end. Or even better yet, maybe he will lighten us up, and we can rein him in, and everything will meet perfectly in the middle. But who am I kidding?

Jordan Echols is a Communication & Image Zone Manager with Texas Health Resources and Dad to daredevil Elliot. 

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