We had a great day today, finding treasures for the boys at yard sales, playing outside, opening presents (Mrs. Potato Head was a huge hit!), reading, eating cake and ice cream, and watching Finding Nemo together as a family. Duplo was happy the entire day, which isn’t actually normal for him. On to the terrible twos!
When I brought Duplo home from the hospital, almost two years ago, he wouldn’t go to sleep the first afternoon. He’d been awake for a while and had eaten, and I was reasonably sure he was comfortable. The more tired he got, the more fussy he got. I tried nursing again, since that had always put Lego to sleep, but Duplo didn’t want to nurse. I tried holding him tightly swaddled and rocking him, but he fought me. I tried snuggling quietly on the couch. He screamed. After maybe an hour or trying to get him to go to sleep, I was feeling really fried and frustrated. I knew I needed a short breather before trying again, so I put him in his swing to cry while I went in my bedroom with the door shut for a minute or two.
He quieted almost immediately, and went to sleep within three minutes. That’s the first time I realized that this baby definitely had a different personality from Lego’s. Duplo has always been the kind of person who just wants to be left alone to go to sleep, and I’m glad I learned it early. Whereas I’d spent months trying to get Lego to learn to self-settle, Duplo was doing it within days of birth. When he was tired, I’d just put him in his crib with a pacifier and leave the room. It almost seemed too easy, like I was supposed to have to train a kid to do this, rather than just let him do it because he wanted to.
There was a period of about four months where the only way to get him to sleep was to hold a pacifier in his mouth and not let him spit it out, hold him very tight in the cook of your arm, and basically keep him in that death grip until he closed his eyes for a few minutes, then transfer him to bed. I think the problem then was that he was becoming more aware of how much fun the world was, and he needed a firm hand to make him stop having fun and start sleeping. The problem was, at about seven or eight months of age, he stopped liking the pacifier and refused to take it. It was a rough month as we tried to figure out how to get him to sleep without it. Finally, he learned to do what he’d done at birth: just go to sleep himself in his crib. Now, when it’s bedtime or naptime, I just say, “Time for bed, Duplo,” take him in his room, turn off the light, put him in his crib with pillow, blanket, and sometimes a sippy of water, tell him goodnight, and leave the room. He never cries even a little, unless he truly isn’t tired yet, which isn’t often. Nowadays I’m grateful to have two boys who are such good sleepers.
Just like his big brother, Duplo has fallen in love with the outdoors. Sometimes he’ll bring me his socks and shoes to put on, and then demand his coat, as if merely being dressed and ready to go outside means we will be going. Once out there, Duplo likes to ride the ride-on toys, color with sidewalk chalk, play in the mud, look for bugs, run around, and drive trucks (the toys in the garage are kind of communal, and the upstairs neighbors have some bigger truck toys to play with outside). Of course, it’s usually more fun if the upstairs neighbors, who have boys ages 3.5, 2.5, and 1, come outside too. We’ve gotten out sprinklers to run through a couple times too, and I’m surprised by how okay Duplo is getting wet. Since the weather’s been mostly great this week, we have spent hours outside each day. When we get inside, it seems that the kids wish they could spend a few more hours out there. Hooray for glorious weather!
Duplo is really getting into books lately. At night, after Lego’s in bed, we read pretty much straight for 30-60 minutes. He’ll bring Daddy a book, then run and get another one for Mommy to read, then back to Daddy, and so on and so forth. He’s started commenting on what he sees in the pictures.
One of my favorites right now is a little book we checked out from the library, called No No Yes Yes by Leslie Patricelli. The entire text of the book is either “no no” or “yes yes,” and it shows a baby doing various things that are wrong, like coloring on the walls or putting toys in the toilet or hitting another baby. You know, stuff that every kid Duplo’s age has tried at least once. The corresponding page will show a “yes yes” to do instead, like coloring on paper, or sitting on the toilet, or playing nicely with the baby. As we read, Duplo will explain the pictures: “No no color wall. Yes yes paper.” He knows all the rules, even the ones he still regularly breaks. It’s kind of awesome.
He’s also starting to call a few of his favorite books by their “names,” like the cricket book, the kiss book, the supper book, etc. By the end of each night, we have quite a pile. Most nights I am happy to read to my little boy, happy for the one-on-one time we get to spend with each other and his favorite books.