Monday, November 26, 2012


His name is "Brother", or "Brudder", as Kendan pronounces it. Ok, his name is legally Damien, but it might as well be Brother with as little as we say "Damien". Is it possible that we are raising him with an inferiority complex by calling him that; always being the "brother" and not "Damien"? I'm not sure. But, I am sure that, at 9 months old, he is not just Kendan's brother. Every ounce of his baby fat is genuine personality, his own personality. I think he stores most of it in his cheeks. Or maybe his fingers; I've never seen chubbier baby hands. Well, wherever it comes from, he has it in spades. We haven't even had him in our lives a full year but I already cannot remember what it felt like without him. This laughing baby. This hilarious boy. This amazing, albeit needy, addition to the family. This brother. Our "Brother".

We've learned so much about him already. He has full intentions of doing everything at his own pace. I was always told that subsequent children do things faster than their older siblings did in an effort to keep up. Well, so far, that is not the case for Damien in any major milestone of his infancy. He rolled over later (which he has since forgotten how to do), he sat up later, he is almost 10 months old and shows no interest in crawling and doesn't have any teeth. By this age Kendan had finally figured out crawling and was working on his third and fourth teeth. Not only does Damien not attempt to keep up with his big brother, but he doesn't seem to care what Kendan is up to at all! Only on occasion will Damien take notice of Kendan's activities and even then he only laughs, picks up the nearest toy, and devotes his full attention to it, forgetting about everything else. The feeling is mutual; Kendan isn't all that interested in what Damien's doing either unless it's something involving one of his toys. Then he is quick to make sure Damien knows what's "mine!" and what's suitable for the brother. I have asked Kendan to go play with Damien when he's in the jump-a-roo in an attempt to forge more of a relationship; but, Damien will not have it. He screams at Kendan for helping bounce him, or touching one of the rattle attachments, or for even coming near him. I guess "mine!" goes both ways. However, occasionally I will have my head buried in (insert cliche mom task here) and I'll hear laughter... contagious, infectious, toddler and baby laughs, both! I'll peek around the corner and there they are, playing together. Unforced, extreme silliness and non-stop giggles. Being brothers.

Damien loves carbs. I mean, who doesn't? But, he really loves carbs. His current favorite foods are Pillsbury crescent rolls, frozen waffles, and Cheerios. Kendan was a fruits and veggies kind of baby. I thought the angels sent me a perfect child who loved healthy foods. Now I think, thank God I can slap a handful of Cheerios onto Damien's tray to keep him from losing his mind while I make the peas he'll reluctantly eat once his favorites run out. Solid foods came at the exact right time for Damien. He went through a pretty severe phase of refusing bottles. I wasn't sure how he was surviving without what is supposed to be an infant's main source of nutrition through one year. Kendan never missed an ounce. He pounded every bottle that came his way and still ate like a champ. So, imagine my confusion when I had to beg my next baby to swallow a drop. The Bottle Battles of 2012 have ended and Damien is back to consuming a more comfortable level (for mom) of formula a day; but, not without compromise. For instance, if he wants to stop eating his bottle to jump in my lap, give me kisses, or forcibly rub his head against mine for ten minutes I must allow it; he will eat the rest of his bottle when he's done... but not one minute before he has finished doing what he wants. Don't even try, he will slap the bottle right out of your hand. I also figured out that he likes to lay in odd positions while eating his bottle. All that wiggling and sliding down my lap was not just to be a pain, he prefers laying that way. *Extreme eye roll* Oh, Brother.

I mean, seriously... 

Damien hates when I leave the room. He screams at the top of his lungs as if he's been abandoned completely. No surprise here, Kendan was the exact same way. I cannot explain it. With Kendan I just assumed it was because we spent every waking minute together and rarely saw anyone else other than Dad for the first year of his life. Damien is different. He is child number two. He has been dragged to every playgroup, been held by every person he's met, been babysat more than Kendan ever was at this age. He gets left in random rooms of the house while I'm chasing after Kendan to the potty. He lives in his walker and highchair. But, he still goes insane when I leave him. I'll never forget leaving the boys in the playroom one day when the doorbell rang. The whole time I was talking to the solicitor Damien was screaming his head off. *Get a hint, salesman* I finally return to my children only to find Damien (still) screaming on the floor, now surrounded by upwards of ten toys that Kendan has piled around him in an effort to make him happy. Kendan just stood there, sucking his thumb, giving me a desperate look, "make him stop, please!" I know, buddy, I know. For Kendan, freaking out when I'd leave the room ended once he learned to crawl and could just follow me. I'm hoping it will fix itself for Damien once he finally becomes mobile. But, not only does he not crawl (as previously discussed), he doesn't even try. In the meantime, I will continue to run around my house in a cold sweat, pleading with Kendan to just hurry up and go potty so I can go calm down brother.

Seen here playing with a wooden spoon.  But, he's really only happy because I'm still in the room.

Damien loves sleep. He cannot be disturbed for twelve hours every night and has to be woken up after two hours of napping, twice a day. When I lay him down in his crib he is genuinely excited. He kicks and laughs and squeals. He rubs his blankie all over his sweet face and his smile fills the room. He doesn't make a peep at bed or nap times. He just happily drifts off to sleep. I would have to listen to Kendan cry for about ten minutes before he would pass out, exhausted from fighting it. Damien just lets sleep wash over him. Maybe it's the calming tide from the noise machine. Or maybe he is just more like his father in the sleep department (and nothing like Mom as I fight sleep to write this). Maybe being the younger sibling pays off when you learn to sleep while listening to the high-pitched talking and loud banging from your big brother.

Kendan and Damien have a lot of similarities as babies. Chipmunk-sized cheeks, they break down into hysterical laughter when they're tired, and they are seriously, heartbreakingly adorable (I might have a biased opinion). However, they have far more differences than I ever expected. Damien is starting to burst out of the 9 month clothing that Kendan wore through 11 months. Damien's eyes are still a shade of blue that is reserved only for actors from the 30's; Kendan's had turned deep brown by this age. Kendan preferred "Itsy Bitsy Spider" and his sucking his thumb while Damien is a "Wheels on the Bus" fan and loves the pacifier. And, just to ensure his own place in our family, Damien's hair is just slightly red. The only one with red(ish) hair. Well played, Damien. But, the biggest difference between Kendan and Damien is time. The time I have to spend alone with Damien pales in comparison to the one-on-one time I had with Kendan. The only private time we have together is during bottles. Damien is the first person I care for every morning. He quietly chats to himself in his crib while I make my way upstairs. I peek over the side of his crib and his face lights up, so does mine. We sit together in the glider and rock as he eats his bottle. He grabs my fingers, tilts his head back, flashes me a smile. I stand him up on my lap when he's done just to have a look at him. How much did you grow last night my sweet boy? What will I miss today as I rush around doing a million other things? I pray nothing. I so look forward to our time together before bed too. He smells so clean, straight out of a baby shampoo commercial. He sits on my lap and I close my eyes to memorize the scent. He takes a break from his bottle and flips around in my lap to see me. It's the only time of day he lets me cradle him like a baby. I put my face right up to his and gush about how much I love him. He just laughs. I put him in his crib and cover him up. I silently promise never to take for granted the privilege of being the last face he sees every night. Before I back away, I whisper, "Sleep good, my Brother".

Monday, November 19, 2012


Kendan completely amazes me these days. I still remember when I would beg him to play by himself so I could get something, anything, done. Don't get me wrong, he still insists that I join him in any and all activities, but he has gotten astronomically better at entertaining himself. One word: Imagination.

Every character he portrays (Batman, Spiderman, Mike the Knight, Jake from the Neverland Pirates, etc.) has very strict requirements regarding wardrobe. We do own quite a few dress-up items (Batman mask, pirate hat and vest, etc.). Then, of course, some things we have serve other purposes. His bike helmet doubles as his Knight helmet, his winter mittens are his Batman gloves, snow boots are his boots for every outfit, an old butter spreader is his sword, his bath towel is his cape; the list goes on. However, we don't actually own most of the wardrobe pieces that are being "worn" during play. Everything else is IMAGINARY. When dressed as Spiderman he wears an imaginary mask, gloves, and boots. He is so convinced that he is wearing them that he takes them off with every bite of food, before going potty, and before getting in the bath. I also have to hold them for him, "Here Mommy, hold these" as he takes off each article separately. I must wear the imaginary clothing as well. "Mommy needs boots too!" I need only reply, "They're already on, silly!" and show him my foot; we continue playing, or I keep cooking. When leaving for the store one day he exclaimed, "Oh! My mask!" I held out my hand and said, "Oh, here it is!" He bellowed with laughter and we kept on our merry way .... See? This imagination is amazing.

In keeping with my son's first-born, Type A personality, even his imagination is very specific. When we are playing as characters everyone is assigned an identity. Kendan is always the main hero, I am typically the sidekick, and Damien gets whatever tertiary character remains. I suggest we get brother up from nap and I am quickly corrected, "No, Izzy, we get Cubby from nap!" ... "Ok, Jake, you're right. Let's go." He is so particular that he specifies the difference between Batman and Bruce Wayne with just the lift of his mask. If his mask is on top of his head he is Bruce Wayne; if it's over his face he is Batman (obviously). This is easy enough to decipher. The difficultly comes when he is Spiderman. The only Spiderman paraphernalia we own is a Pez dispenser! So when he is Spiderman he looks exactly like Kendan; I only know he's the masked hero because I get scolded when I refer to him incorrectly. But, when he's Peter Parker he walks around with both of his hands held up at the sides of his face as if he's pulled his mask up. VoilĂ , he is the unassuming NYC photographer, Peter Parker.

We went to the aquarium yesterday, and when Kendan woke up from nap today he put out his hand and explained he was holding a shark. He began moving his hands back and forth over his bed and speaking over a pretend radio to this shark ... This game was completely lost on me. But, instead of trying to understand I just stood there in silence, trying to breathe in every second of my child's joy. His overwhelming imagination. His lack of self awareness as I stare at him puzzled. One day he will be too embarrassed to pretend. To make up a game with his mom watching and invite her to play along. Too self conscious to march around the house wearing only a belt, hat, vest, and wielding a butter knife. I didn't dare interrupt. Not only because I was off the hook for a few minutes as head of the entertainment committee, but because it was a front row seat to Kendan's mind. It was funny, and detailed, and sweet. And entirely too short-lived; both that moment and his childhood in general. Before I know it he'll be big and his favorite Disney shows will be "for babies". I'll hand him an imaginary mask to fight crime in and he'll roll his eyes. In the mean time, I will keep soaking up these moments, even when I'm up to my ears in things to do. I'll pull out two chairs and two hot pads so we can drive the Batmobile in between stirring dinner. I'll look forward to Damien reaching this blossoming imagination stage. And I will always close my eyes and keep my boys little in MY imagination.