Oh my. I can’t believe It’s been two months since Ritter turned 2. We had the BUSIEST summer but it has been a blast. I have said this a ton lately but I’ll say it again.. this age is SO fun and full of joy and magic and whimsy that I just want to hold onto every single second of it. Watching Ritter experience new things is the BEST. He is so imaginative and excited about EVERYTHING. And he’s so dang easy. As long as he’s fed on time and takes his nap on schedule he’s a super happy camper. I love loading up and exploring the city on fridays. Recently we’ve done the zoo, McWane, Let’s Play, and nearly every park around town. We’ve also gone train hunting and we’ve driven out to the airport to watch planes take off! And in a couple of weeks we start toddler tumbling at Mountain Brook Gymnastics! Ritter loves to climb and jump…he’s going to love it.
This child is so sweet, caring, loving, and kind. Watching him interact with others warms me to the point that I almost simply melt into a puddle. He is considerate of others, worries about others when they are sad or fall down, wants to help others do things, etc. I don’t force him to share but for the most part he offers anything he has to others. On top of that…he’s started cupping my face in his hands at night and saying “love you mama!” Puddle y’all!!! I’ve been saying “I love you” to him since day one and within the last few months he started saying it back when I said it. But recently he’s started saying “I love you” out of the blue on his own and it’s just the best thing ever. He’s also always concerned about Jackson and whether or not he has food or water. If his bowl is empty Ritter wants to fill it up. He also still hates messes so he often tries to pick up the dog food when Jackson slings it around while he’s eating.
He’s also incredibly nurturing. He plays with a baby doll alot. He wants to change it’s diaper, wrap it in a blanket, dress it, put it to sleep, etc. His best friends in his class are all girls and they play with the dolls all the time so he does too. I definitely don’t discourage this behavior. It’s normal and developmentally appropriate and is teaching him so many wonderful skills.
He’s started complimenting me alot when I get dressed in the mornings. He’ll say “you look cute mama” or “you look handsome” – obviously repeating things we tell him when he gets dressed…but it’s so funny because he understands when it’s appropriate to say it.
As I’ve shared in the past, Ritter has an amazing sense of awareness about what is going on around him. He loves to narrate and tell us what’s going on around us. He will point out what people are doing or what they are wearing. He kinda never stops talking. ha. His sense of direction is pretty awesome too. There’s a construction site near our house where they are building some new shops. We drive by twice a day and he talks about the dump trucks and cranes. Now when we are nearing the site he will say “dump trucks are coming” which lets me know he is familiar with his surroundings and knows what things he sees right before the construction site…going both ways. He can also point out when we are almost home because he recognizes things in our neighborhood. I’m sure this isn’t so out of the ordinary for most kids his age but I guess most of them just don’t point it out like he does. Also…when we walk outside he will tell us it’s been raining if the ground is wet. Then when we get in the car and his shoes touch the seat back and get them wet he’ll say “my shoes got rain on the seat mommy.” The detail in the things he sees and understands and points out is simply amazing to me.
Back in July his class did a lesson on the American Flag. Ritter really took to it and started pointing out flags everywhere we go. Every time we pass a school, fire station, etc he’ll say “there’s an American Flag mommy.” The other day we were at the zoo riding the train. We were in the back of the train. As we started to go around a curve we could see the front of the train up ahead of us and Ritter says “there’s an American Flag on the front of this train.” All the people around us turned and looked at us…and we got the usual “how old is he?!?” comments!
As far as language goes he continues to be quite ahead for his age. There isn’t much at all that he can’t communicate about. He uses most all verbs, adjectives, prepositions, etc properly. We have entire conversations about what he wants to eat, what he wants to wear, where we are going, who we are going to see, what we are going to do, etc. He understands it all and communicates with me about it. He is big into requesting certain things these days. He understands he has choice and he voices his opinion alot! He’ll say things like “what’s for dinner” or “I want pasta tonight.” He understands that he doesn’t always get what he requests but I try to give him choices when I can. And he understands that some things have to be cooked…he will say “this is raw..mommy has to cook it.” His newest request is “I want to go OUT to eat!” He LOVES going out to restaurants and making friends and entertaining people at the tables around us. I think he also knows that he gets bread when we go out…something we don’t have much of at home….because he requests that alot when we go out. Ha! He requests certain activities like going to the park or going to the zoo. He also requests to see certain people or call certain people on the phone.
Watching Ritter’s interactions with other children is so fascinating to me. He’s completely enamored with other children…wants to talk to them, watch them, emulate them. He loves “big kids” and I think alot of that has to do with the fact that he can communicate better with them than with kids his age. We recently got a membership at the McWane center and we’ve been going alot. We went several months ago and he wanted me right beside him the whole time. But now that he’s a little older he is so different. He runs off by himself and tries to make friends. I’ll watch him try to talk to other children or follow them and see what they are doing. It’s so fascinating to watch. He is more interested in the interaction with others than the toys or whatever it is they are playing with. He’s always been that way. Ritter isn’t so much entertained by toys per se…it’s interaction with others that he wants. He would rather play peek-a-boo, or hide and seek, or sing songs, or play chase. He just loves people. And he gets that oh so honestly!! 🙂 The other day we were driving through the neighborhood and I saw some neighbors out walking and briefly stopped to roll down my window and say hi. When we drove off Ritter said “I wanted to say hi mommy!” He was so sad he didn’t get to speak to them. That comfort around adults and desire for social interaction with adults is absolutely an only child trait… I was the same way…always interested in what adults were talking about and always looking for a way to get into the conversation. It’s not necessarily a bad thing at all. It definitely helps to instill strong social and conversation skills. Don’t even get me started on the lack of conversation skills in kids these days….
One thing that’s been hard for me lately is when other children are mean to Ritter. I know that kids are going to be mean. I know that pushing and shoving and taking of toys happens at school. I guess it’s just the loss of the sweet innocence that makes me sad. He is realizing that sometimes people are mean or hurt others and it’s sad to watch. I don’t make a big deal about it. I teach him to shake it off and that he can handle it…no matter what it is. Instead of teaching Ritter to tattle tell, or retaliate, or respond with aggression in any way, I am teaching him that HE can handle it. I am teaching him that “mean” kids aren’t bad kids…and that they can still be good people or good friends – they just sometimes let their emotions get the best of them. I am teaching him to respond to all situations with strength. I don’t coddle him when someone is mean to him. I don’t go “oh that kid was so mean” or “he can’t/shouldn’t do that”… because frankly people can do whatever they want – regardless of what they should or shouldn’t do. I don’t want to teach him that people will never or can never be mean to him because that’s not setting him up for reality. The truth is that kids will be mean and they will hurt his feelings…I want him to know that he can handle it. I validate his feelings and we talk about how it makes him feel…but then I say “You’re okay. You can handle it. Let’s shake it off!” Unless he’s physically hurt, I want him to see that he’s in control of his emotions…that no one can MAKE him feel anything and that no one has power over him. I want him to see that there will always be people around him with their own issues, but he is separate and he’s still okay. It’s teaching boundaries. If we teach kids that they always have to run for help or tattle tell we are teaching them they they can’t handle things themselves and must always rely on adults – and that’s not true. We need to let kids sort out their own stuff..it teaches them valuable skills. If a kid pushes or takes something from him I teach him just to move on. If a kid is feeling angry or aggressive I say that we just don’t want to be around that child when he’s like that. As he gets older and these things get more complex I’ll teach him how to talk through it with his peers. If a friend hurts him, I’ll teach him that sometimes people say things they don’t mean…or sometimes we argue with people …but we CAN work through it and remain friends. Everyone who is mean isn’t bad. I don’t want to vilify “bad kids” because all kids are good at their core…there are reasons they show meanness or aggression. It’s not that they are bad or mean people. And I’ll be honest…I think at this age most of the kids who are aggressive learn it at home. Their parents may not hit each other or even hit the child…but yelling, hostility, arguing, grabbing a kid’s arm or face when they are acting out…all of those things teach aggression and aggressive behaviors. Totally my opinion here but…those things aren’t necessary in order to discipline children. Especially at this age. There is a high correlation between kids that are hit/spanked at home and kids who hit at school. Just saying. I think common sense tells us that. But I’ll save that soapbox for another blog…
I know it may seem ridiculous to some that I’m thinking about these concepts already and he’s only 2 …but you have to consider what I do for a living and how that impacts how I parent. I see the lack of social skills, the lack of confidence, etc and what it does to kids down the road. It colors everything I do. I think most parents could benefit from being a little more conscientious about the emotional development of their children rather than being so focused on things like grades…but that’s just me.
Anyhoo, back to Ritter…
There’s a little boy in Ritter’s class that has been pushing him alot. At first I thought he was exaggerating. He came home and told me about it and we talked about it. Then he told me the exact same story the next two days. So I asked the teacher about it and she said it was true. She said this child can be aggressive towards others in general. She said Ritter never retaliates and recovers from it quickly so that made me proud. But it made me sad too. He talks about this child and talks about being friends with him. I don’t know if the kid is just “rough housing” and Ritter just isn’t used to that kind of play or if the kid really gets angry about things and takes it out on others. But whatever the reason…it’s his first time experiencing someone that he thinks is a friend being mean to him and it just makes me so sad. Ritter has the sweetest little spirit. Just not a mean bone in his body. I know it’ll happen a million more times in his life…I just wasn’t ready for it to start this soon. 😦
Ritter’s play is increasingly imaginative. Anything and everything can be a phone, or stove, or guitar. For example…the other night we stopped to pick up takeout at Makario’s. They have one of those gumball/candy dispensers by the counter. As I was paying for food Ritter went over to it. When I walked over to him I said “whatcha doing” and he said “cooking beans mama!” He was pretending to take the “beans” out of the machine and put them in a bowl on the little shelf. Then he was carrying the “bowl” over to an empty table where he was sitting it down and serving the imaginary people there. He was just a talking to himself “here are your beans, and here are your beans…” I didn’t want to make him stop because it was so fun to watch his little imagination go. But we had to get home with our takeout. ha. But that’s just one example of how crazy his imagination is. He “cooks” for us ALL the time. That’s his favorite thing to play. And it’s not surprising since he sees me cook constantly. My mom wanted to buy him one of those huge play kitchens that we don’t have any room for in our tiny house… but Ritter doesn’t need it. He makes a “kitchen” out of anything!
He also plays “office.” I guess this comes from knowing that we go to work each day. He used to ask us where we work and we would say “an office.” So now he’ll pack up this little bag he has with all sorts of things and will proclaim “I’m going to the office.” Then he’ll run out of the room and come back and say “I’m home from work!” He’ll talk and talk to himself…”I need my computer..I need my watch… where’s my wallet…” It’s SO FREAKING HILARIOUS!!!! He also needs to “charge” everything. I am sure this comes from seeing us charge our phones and computers and iPads. He has a charger that he carries around and “hooks up” to all of this things and says they are charging.
He also continues his love affair with accessories. Sunglasses, hats, shoes, and, most recently, necklaces. There’s a “treasure chest” in his classroom and he often gets to pick out a toy for being “best napper” or “best leader” or something like that. He always picks a necklace. They are just beads…like mardi gras beads. It seriously looks like it’s mardi gras around here this kid has so many beads. And his newest obsession is trying to wear all of our shoes…even my heels. It’s so entertaining. He HAS to put them on by himself no matter how long it takes.
Photos and Videos:
Instead of putting recent videos here, I’ll just give you the link to my YouTube channel which has all the cute videos of him. Check them out here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfyKdTFgieY7EdcPR3jwnyA