As I've gone through this parenting journey, so much of the time I'm looking ahead to the next big thing. I'm waiting for the next milestone, looking forward to getting out of a less-than-enjoyable phase, or simply excited to see what comes next. But lately I've been wanting to freeze time a bit. Carter is at an amazing age, and I seriously can't get enough.
To be fair, he has his moments. Lately daycare drop-offs have been tough, and his tendency to want to run has been a challenge. He can be a major handful, and he can have an attitude. He has tantrums about random stuff, though they're fortunately short-lived. He gets that mischievous look on his face more than I'd like, and he often does what he knows he shouldn't. But for whatever reason, all of that pales in comparison to the adorable, sweet kid that we see most of the time. There are moments where I wonder if I'd take someone up on the offer of freezing him at this age, because he's just so darn fun. In reality, I do want to see him grow up, and I look forward to seeing what kid of big kid/adult comes out of the sweet kid he is now. I truly hope it sticks. But oh, I really want to find ways to remember how awesome he is now. The video on my camera has been sorely underused, for sure, and I need to rectify that quickly. If I can't freeze him, at least I can document the adorableness.
I can't quite describe what makes him so wonderful, but the funny thing is that strangers see it, too. I can't tell you how often we'll be out and someone will comment about how cute he is. And honestly, I don't think it's just his face, though that is crazy cute itself. I think people just see his demeanor and hear him talking, and somehow instantly see that he's a really cool kid. It's been that way since he was a baby. During our trip to Disney we had so many people--including staff, who see so many kids every day--that were so enamored with him, and it's been happening at home ever since.
As much as he's never been a cuddler like Jacob was (oh, those naps with Jacob were lovely), he's such a great hugger. He will give almost anyone a hug if they ask. And they're real hugs, with arms and everything! He's still working on the kissing thing, but last night at bedtime he gave me the best little kiss...perfect little pucker and everything. He just genuinely likes people and cares about them. The other day I was holding him in one arm and had bags on the other. Somehow I managed to pinch myself with the bags, and I said, "Ouch!" and immediately put him down. Carter said, "Sorry, mama!" and I was like, "Oh, no, buddy, that wasn't you...Mommy hurt herself!" But the sentiment was so sweet. He does stuff like that all the time. Oh, and he's really great about saying "thank you", which is so cute.
He makes such sweet observations about the world, and still has a genuine excitement for the littlest of things. This morning he was so excited by the bunny rabbit in our front yard and the dump truck at the end of our driveway (major road reconstruction...grrrrr) that I could barely drag him upstairs to get him dressed. He loves looking out the window in the car and pointing out vehicles. He's a great shopping buddy as long as he's in a cart or stroller and can watch the world go by. He's at a point where I can almost have a real conversation with him--though obviously his responses are pretty minimal and it's my job to keep things going. I'm appreciating that he's not yet into the 500 questions phase, nor is he a constant chatterbox (unless Jacob is around, at which point the noise is constant and the volume is high).
He still thinks we're all the coolest people he knows, thinks we're pretty funny, and is happy to see us in the morning or at the end of the day. He may not be a great eater sometimes, but he can be entertained with a snack. He loves setting up shop on the couch for an episode of Paw Patrol, and he loves driving his cars around the house. He lives a very simple life, and despite the two-year-old tantrums, his world is relatively drama-free. At least, compared to life with an almost-seven-year-old, it sure feels drama-free!
Looking back in the blog, it's clear to me that we didn't get this same sort of experience with Jacob. While we had moments that were sweet and fun, I can tell that so much of what was happening at this age was hard. Even then he was a challenge. I remember feeling like the terrible twos started right around 18 months and didn't let up for a long time (or ever?!). I remember things being exhausting, a constant barrage of tantrums and challenges. Reading back I can see that we were already having issues with what he was wearing or getting him to put on a coat or to leave his hockey stick at home. We have moments of that with Carter, for sure, but more often than not, he's a very agreeable little kid. Whereas Jacob couldn't be distracted or convinced of anything, Carter usually gets past it pretty quickly. It's like night and day sometimes, and their differences never cease to amaze me.
This post was spawned from the realization that I didn't have this urgency to freeze time when Jacob was this age. I just wanted to push through and get him to an age where he could be reasonable. Little did I know that might never happen, but if nothing else it makes our current situation that much more appreciated. Part of it may be that Carter is our last baby and I hate to see some of these phases end. I know now that this is a pretty "easy" age, and I think his easy phase is easier than some kids', so it's even more precious. I'll admit that I feel a little bad directly comparing the kids, but it's not Jacob's fault he was a much more challenging kid. It's the truth, though. I find it amazing and somewhat comforting to know that a) what we were going through with him really was harder than what a lot of people deal with, as we suspected; and b) that what we went through with him probably didn't have much to do with our parenting skills. After all, we raised both of them and the outcomes were so different! For the longest time I was convinced that we did something wrong, and I suspected that Jacob's tantrums really were worse than what other people insisted their kid was doing, too. But if their kids were anything like Carter, trust me, our situation was worse! We're still dealing with a lot of ridiculousness, but we are managing. It's been a long road, but I'm glad we added a fun little travel companion to join us along the way.
This parenting thing is pretty fascinating.