I’m A Big Boy

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Silly Butts

One evening, I was working and Mikey and Max were watching The Incredibles. I took a quick break to plant kisses on the toddler and to catch one of my favorite scenes (Edna slapping Elastigirl).

Before I turn back to my laptop, I say “Maxie, look! Papa is Mr. Incredible, Momma is Elastigirl, and Maxie is Jack-Jack!”

Max ignores me and I go back to work. A few minutes later, Max looks at me with a serious, almost angry, face and says, “Maxie big boy, not baby. Maxie Dash.”

Mikey and I were stunned in that did-that-just-happen kind of way (this happens a lot now BTW). We were silent for a while and then we started laughing in disbelief. Did our two year old really just say he was a big boy?

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He’s Dash.

Yes, he did. And he’s been saying that a lot. Max is starting to develop his self-concept. Mostly, I’ve observed that he’s been able to articulate his categorical self. He can tell us what he thinks he is or isn’t. It’s so fascinating.

Here are some phrases he has said relating to his categorical self:

  • Maxie not baby, Maxie big boy
  • Maxie not scared, Maxie brave
  • Maxie so funny

Aside from this, he’s also getting better at recognizing others’ emotions. Whenever he does something to upset me, he’ll say, “Mama no sad. Mama happy please.” And he’ll literally try to turn my frown upside down with his tiny (usually sticky) fingers.  

Or, when Mikey was upset because the internet went bonkers during WrestleMania, Max went up to him and said, “Papa, no more sad! Papa smile! Papa happy!” And he ran back to me and reported, “Mama, Papa smile! Hooray!”

Beneath his tornado tendencies, Squish is really such a sweet boy. ❤

After Max started self-identifying as a big boy, we noticed that it got easier to get him to do certain things.

For example, it’s no longer a struggle to get him to sit in his car seat. We explained that all big boys (like Papa and Mama) have to wear their seatbelt in the car. After we said that, he quietly accepted his fate for the rest of the car ride. The first time though, he asked me to sit next to him and hug him while he was strapped in. But the next time, I got to sit in front with Mikey. That was a huge breakthrough for us!

We also use the “big boy” argument to get him to walk or sit in his stroller. We told him that since he’s a big boy, he’s getting too heavy to carry. So he has the option to either walk or sit in his stroller. He usually sticks with whatever he chooses and it means a lot less drama for us.

I’m 90% amused and loving this phase, and about 10% (maybe 15…or 20) sad and nostalgic. I can’t believe how this little human is unfolding before our eyes.

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But you’ll always be my baby. ❤ 

The Squishy Book Club Part 2

Max is interested in most books (even the novels that I read), but he’ll only initiate reading time with a few favorites at a time. Right now, here are his favorites:

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  1. Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems. Mikey bought this book for Max during for his first Christmas. I never heard of the book, but it was one of the few children’s books that he knew and loved. It wasn’t a hit right away because Max initially liked books with rhymes and that could be read in a sing-song way. So, we kept this book in the car for a really long time. A few weeks ago, I tried reading it to him again while he was in the car seat and it was a hit. He would point out things in the book like “bibi” (baby, Trixie), “doow” (door), “chees” (keys), and “doo” (dog). I brought it back into our apartment and we’ve been reading it a couple of times a day since then. Soon, Max would start pointing out Trixie when she’s sad and he would hug me in the end when Trixie hugs Knuffle Bunny. The book is perfect for Max’s age (20-21 months)—it has a simple and relatable narrative, it’s not too long, and it has a lot of everyday things that he can point out.
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“Momma, wawa!”

Favorite Max moment with this book: when Max expresses sadness when Trixie is sad and when he tells me that Trixie is wawa.

  1. Sweet Dreams Jack-Jack by Meredith Rusu. After his Toy Story obsession, Max’s next favorite Pixar movie was The Incredibles. He would call them the “bols” (because they’re the incrediBOLS, hahaha). Last month, a huge load of merchandise started coming out in preparation for the sequel. Max’s Lola made sure that he had everything that was available, and it included this book. Max loved it right away! He would make us keep reading the page where all the characters are introduced. And when we would force him to move on, he would pay close attention to the story. Again, it’s perfect for Max because it showcases characters that he knows (so he’s already invested and interested), it has a simple narrative and it’s short enough for Max to sit through the whole story a few times in one sitting.

Favorite Max moment with this book: when Max says “oh no!” when it looks like the Racoon is winning against Jack-Jack.

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  1. The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch. Robert Munsch is famous for ‘Love You Forever’, but Paper Bag Princess was my favorite book growing up. When I saw that they had a board book version, I knew I had to get it for Max. I hope that it helps him learn how to be kind to people. I think that this is an abridged version of the original book. The length is perfect for Max. And he also really enjoys the sound effects we make when we’re reading the dragon’s part. He also really likes knocking on the door when the Princess knocks on the dragon’s door to rescue her prince.
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“na na!” (knock knock)

Favorite Max moment with this book: when Max says “bumba” (for “bomba”—Filipino slang for naked) when the Princess’ clothes get burned off.

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  1. Making Friends! (Just like Us) by Jess Stockham. Last Christmas, Mikey was asked to come up with a wish list for Kris Kringle. I told Mikey to ask for ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ or ‘Rainbow Fish’. Instead, his co-teacher got Max a bag full of Children’s books from Booksale. I love receiving books from other people, especially when we’re given a book that I wouldn’t normally buy. This book was a big hit with Max. There’s no narrative in this book, it’s just a bunch of examples of how friends can be affectionate to one another. It’s also a flap book that starts with animals (which Max loves) and you open the flap to see children imitating the animals. It’s a great book because Max can be rough with people (especially when he’s excited)—it’s a way to remind him to be gentle and that he can express his fondness in other ways. 

Favorite Max moment with this book: when Max copies all the actions! He will ask to hold my hand and cuddle with me! It’s the best!

  1. How do dinosaurs eat their food? By Jane Yolen and Mark Teague. Max really liked “How do dinosaurs go to sleep?”, so when I saw this on an online secondhand bookstore, I bought it right away. Some moms don’t like this series because the first half starts off with all the things you’re not supposed to do, and the second half shows what a good dinosaur does. They think that it might give their kids more ideas on how to be naughty. I guess they have a point, but Max loves the dinosaurs and he takes his cue from us when it comes to how we’re supposed to feel about the misbehaving dinosaurs. The book is a quick read and Max still enjoys the rhymes.

Favorite Max moment with this book: when Max says “please” and “thank you”, just like one of the good dinosaurs.

Honorable mention (aka a new book that Momma really likes but Max is still warming up to): Where the wild things are by Maurice Sendak. I’ve always loved this book, but for the longest time, all I could find was the hardcover edition, which I thought was too pricey. But I finally found the paperback edition last week! I love how Sendak captures the energy of little kids. I’m half giddy and half wary that the Max in the book reminds me so much of our Max. Max is warming up to the book already, he likes to point out the boat and trees and moon. He thinks it’s funny when the rumpus starts because Mikey will beatbox some party music and shake the book. Hopefully, he’ll start asking us to read it on his own soon.

Failed books (so far): The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. I keep trying to get him to like it because it was such a hit with my preschoolers. But he gets bored by the time we start counting all the food the caterpillar eats. Haha. He enjoys the end though. He flaps his hands like a butterfly when the caterpillar emerges from the cocoon. Maybe he’ll enjoy it more when he learns his numbers.

Reading with Max is one of my favorite things to do. When he’s really into a book, he’ll call my attention, point to something in the book, and start babbling! Man, I really wish I could understand what he was saying. Oh well, we’ll get there soon enough.