Wednesday, June 02, 2010


Just in time for Charlie's birthday tomorrow, I'd like to say a word or two about my other son. You know, the forgotten middle child. He did have a birthday last month, that I DIDN'T forget, by the way. Details on his extravagant party (along with three other parties I've thrown) will come.

For now, let's just bask in the sweetness of the three years this little guy has spent stealing my heart, affection, attention, and car keys.

He started out so fat.

He was extremely charming and hardly hesitated to flash his gums to admiring strangers.

He has always been a bit of a ham. Or cheese. Before he was two, we noticed he had a knack for comedic timing, not to mention a laugh that is more contagious than bubonic plague.

He has always been more on the bald than hairy side.

He should probably still be eating in a high chair. Total slob at the dinner table.

He tries a little too hard to be reptilian sometimes.

See what I mean?

This past year was a rocky one for Erik. He entered the terrible twos right as his uber-demanding and no-fun-at-all baby brother stole center stage. It's hard to tell how challenging it would have been for Erik if Charlie weren't such a tool. In any case, the past year was replete with extended, unexplained tantrums, frequent acts of violence, excessive territoriality, withdrawal, jealousy, poor diet, lack of affection, and negativity seeping into any effort to improve these behaviors. His self esteem was shot. For a long time he refused to hug me or snuggle with me. If someone said "hi" to him, he'd frown and shake his head.

Okay, this is sounding worse than I want it to. Suffice is to say that Erik had a lot of growing up to do. As did I. I was trying to help Erik in ways that would help me, but alas he is already so very different in disposition from myself. Slowly, through trial-and-error, I began to understand Erik better, and really commit to helping him improve. This was right around the time that Charlie's painfully, freakishly high scream lowered a few octaves, enabling us to ignore him a bit and attend to Erik more. (After a few months he resumed his counter soprano range, but our eardrums greatly appreciated the brief reprieve.) The results of our efforts with Erik came slowly, but they came, and I believe they're still coming.

It has been an emotionally dizzying year in many ways, but now at the end of it, I can say that, 1. thank heaven it's over, 2. Erik has come sooooooo far in maturity and confidence, and 3. I have come so far right along with him, and I'm just grateful that spending those twelve hours a day with him has been part of my job description, because it's taken me that long to figure some things out, and be physically able to implement them.

Erik must have gotten the memo that he was turning three because he dropped most of his exasperating "terrible two" habits in the past couple of months. He still bothers Charlie and makes him cry at every remote opportunity, but he has become dramatically more positive, polite, affectionate, emotionally stable, and social.

And the blessing of parenthood is that, through the thick and thin of it, he never fell short of being ridiculously good-looking and irresistible to me.

Seriously, how could I be less than twitterpated with this kid?

He LOVED turning three because it meant wearing the cake hat, opening a present, eating pancakes with strawberry sauce and whipped cream for breakfast, and wearing a tuxedo to church.

This boy means everything to me. I am head-over-heels in love with his laugh, his voice, his lingering chubbiness, his creativity, snuggliness, inability to run without tripping, and infatuation with baby toys. He has one million ways to make me smile. He's better to me than an IKEA shopping spree. Or a year's supply of Snickers bars. Or my own roller coaster. Or a good night's sleep. Whoa. Even I didn't realize how much I love this kid until I wrote that.

Happy Birthday, Er-bear (I've never actually called him that, thankfully. But now maybe I will. It has a nice ring to it, right?). You are three, and I am yours.


nimbus said...

Despite his sometimes aggressive behavior, he is a charmer with the best laugh ever. And the way he says "Grampa" would melt your heart.

Kallista said...

He looks great in a tux! I can't believe he is already three. What a cute kid!

Mary said...

Wow. What a cute boy and what wonderful parents he has! I love the tux!

Bryce said...

Very sweet, Tiff! I can tell you've gotten lots of great insights through the adorable ordeals of parenting :-) I sure love Erik too!

Amy said...

Oh my! That Erik is too, too cute. I'm sorry to hear you have had such a rough year. I hope you truly are approaching the light at the end of the tunnel. You are such a dedicated mom. I'm glad you are finding some things that are working with Erik. This mothering thing is such a time of constant learning, isn't it? I know I've been sure I've ruined one or more of my kids a time or two. But, things always seem to get better. Wish we lived closer so we could see you more often!!!