Charlie's due date has arrived. He is two years old adjusted.
This is kind of an awkward time for me to write a loving tribute. The last few days have been rough, so rough that I've been tempted to reassess my heretofore uncompromising stance on strong drink before breakfast. (Do not worry. While my resolve may have weakened enough to finish last night's bottle along with the last few scraps of Charlie's breakfast, I have not yet sunk so far as to open a fresh one. Recommended pairings: Bonny Doon Muscat Vin de Glacière with three ragged edges of a whole-grain waffle; Inniskillin Riesling Icewine with a handful of soggy Cheerios; and an aged tawny port with the last few fatty smears off the lid of the banana YoBaby.)
It's merely what you expect from a toddler, the freakouts out of nowhere, the testing of limits, the full-scale Three Mile Islands when his desires are thwarted. Although it's compounded these days by a cold he can't seem to shake, its attendant asthma, and, most debilitating, a nap strike, it is normal.
Absolutely normal. That's how Charlie seems. Aside from a continuing wobble which makes me suspect his next evaluation will call for further physical therapy, he is normal. A cheerful, affectionate, funny creature. A delightful companion. An agreeable little person whose small spotless soul is occasionally borrowed, with no more ceremony than a cup of sugar, by the devil.
Charlie at two years adjusted:
Sleeps. If he wakes in the night, it's because something's wrong. "Want a little cuddle," he'll say as I approach his crib. I pick him up and fold him against me, chest to chest, his head on my shoulder. We sit in the rocking chair and I pat his back. After a few minutes he says either, "Ready to get in the bed," or "Hi. Hi! Mama and Charlie are in the rocking chair. Hi. Hello. Want to read a book! Yes. Sheep in a Jeep! Sheep in a Shop! Sheep Go Out to Lunch! Yesssss." (No. Jesus. No. Sheep go to sleep.)
Knows simple shapes and some complicated ones. ("That's a cyninder.") Knows colors, to a point:
Julie: Charlie, what color is your cup?
Julie: Right! What color is your shirt?
Julie: Yes. What color are your pants?
You know, close enough.
Reads. Charlie loves books. There is a close proportional relationship between how much a book annoys me and how ardently he loves it. Right now he is in a serious monogamous relationship with the Little Golden Book classic, Tootle, and repeats lines from it with great feeling as he goes about his daily business. "...Calling out the long, sad ToooOoot of the big locomotives," he will tell me mournfully as I advance upon him with a toothbrush.
Eats. He is extremely fond of meat and dairy fat, God bless his American gullet, and almost as interested in fruit. Vegetables are a toss-up: one day he may be cramming entire stalks of asparagus into his mouth as if he were a sword swallower in training, and the next he'll be taking a single bite, making a horrible face, removing it from his mouth and saying in a tone of hurt and betrayal, "Charlie doesn't like dat." I mix peas and chopped spinach and cubes of cooked carrot into virtually everything to assure he gets sufficient. (Recommended pairing: chopped cauliflower and Annie's Shells and Cheddar. Little kids are kind of dumb.)
Plays. He is imaginative: "Charlie is a bunny. Benjamin Bunny." "Charlie is a dog." "Charlie's name is Topsy Turvy." "Charlie is Godzilla." He is industrious, moving what seems like an entire silo of dried beans from one end of the kitchen to another, single scoop by scoop. He is fun-loving, grabbing my hand and moving it to his abdomen saying hopefully, "Mama will tickle you." He loves to help in the kitchen, likes to color, and will, with reasonable good grace, tolerate being towed around the yard in his red plastic sled. ("Charlie is Peter in a snowy day. By Ezra Jack Keats. To Tick, John, and Rosalie. Yes.") He loves music, to the point where he now insists that the tart yellow citrus fruit is called a la-la-lemon. And he likes to play in shaving cream.
He is two, for real, adjusted. He is normal. He is lovely. And, hey, since it's now well past the breakfast hour, I'm not even drunk as I say so.