The age of No


Wow! It’s been a long long time since we updated our blog. 3 months. An eternity in the life of a child.

Let’s see ….back in Oct, Luca was barely mobile; hanging on with both hands to my pant legs and taking little stumbling steps; going through an anxiety phase where he just couldn’t bear the idea of Papa or Mama stepping away from him; curious about strangers and fascinated by little kids; unable to really communicate but clearly very ready to and somewhat frustrated by the situation. On a sunny Sunday afternoon, on the lawn outside his grandparents’ apartment he took his first few stumbling steps all by himself going from Mommy’s arms to Papa’s. And on the Monday that followed, he broke his arm. Standing around a park bench with a bunch of other, mostly older, kids, Luca learned that smaller kids need to wait their turn. His Nanny found him on the turf, screaming uncharacteristically loudly. The diagnosis was a slight crack right on the point of the elbow and the guy spent 3 weeks with his arm strapped to his body and his walking plans on hold.

A few weeks later, midway through an afternoon with grandma Joelle – he got up off his little chair and walked after her, giving Grandma quite the scare when the baby she thought was in the next room was suddenly beside her tugging at her skirts. Later that evening, Mom and Dad and Grandpa each got the demo , as Luca, hands raised in front of him for balance, cheeks flushed red, shrieked and giggled & stumbled from one to the other.

Walking – a routine to you and me, and then you watch your kid toddling around, eyes gleaming in anticipation, a huge smile plastered on his face, and all you see is the open door to a whole new world he’s just discovered. For the first time as parents, we found ourselves asking each other where he was – a non-issue in our tiny apartment but a bigger deal in rambling Grancey.

From then on progress was swift – the stumble-drag eased into a kind of Chaplin-walk. Minor refinements were quickly added – like stopping in mid-toddle and going around an obstacle; or picking a leg up and carefully, perilously, stepping over something. Speed was important, resulting in several sprawling wipe-outs when ambition exceeded capability. Some skin was scraped off, a newly arrived front tooth was broken off nearly whole and by Dec the little guy was rocketing around in a sort of crazed half-walk, half-run – little legs pumping away furiously and arms flailing for balance. And we lowered our expectations as to what kind of injuries we could keep him out of. And around Christmas, Luca decided that walking had gotten enough attention and it was time to focus on other things.

Dancing was added to the repertoire – a basic hands-in-the-air bounce, a side-to-side step with accompanying head-nod, even a spin move that, upon completion, always seemed to leave him wondering which way was up. There was a new tricycle under the Christmas tree, thoughtfully equipped with a push handle so Mom/Dad could push the little guy around on it. Once unwrapped and assembled, this quickly replaced walking as the preferred means of transportation. Interaction was off the charts – you could get him to do just about anything you asked so long as he thought he was being asked to do something adult. “Luca, go to the other room and bring back a book”, “Luca, go tell Mommy dinner’s ready”, “Luca can you get me a screwdriver” – the probability of successful completion on any of these remained low, but there was always a result of some sort. Like Grandpa being forced to eat slice after slice of raw tomato, each one thoughtfully selected and brought over for him by his grandson (the request was for sliced sausage but oh well .. they’re both red(dish) aren’t they?)

And sometime around New Year’s Eve, we entered the Age of No – A magic word that opened another door to a whole other world – the one where “I want” and “I do not want” have meaning. Suddenly. absolutely everything was a negotiation, with a single word taking on a variety of forms and associated sub-texts. Trying to change his diaper brought out the melodramatic, long-drawn out “Neeeuuuuuhhhhhhhhhh!”  as in “how could you consider committing such a horrible horrible crime against humanity?”. Other times it was an authoritarian, crisp “No” as in “Not in a million years”. Other times it was a vigorous head-shake accompanied by a rapid “No-no-no-no…” and an expression that said “how could you possibly call that a good idea?”. The No is backed up by instant tears, which are further backed up a pitiful look and a semi-coughing, semi-pathetic crying jag, which are in turn backed up by a body-goes-limp, kicking fit on the floor. And then, just like that, he might decide to go along with your ask, and in a flip of a switch, the storm ends and he’s ready for whatever’s next. Like the last 5 min never happened. He’s moved on. And you’re left to do the same.

This last phase is where we’re still at. Apparently it lasts about 21 years. We’re taking it  month by month.

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