A tiger by the tail


Recently, Gus broke through the 1,000-days-on-Earth mark (he’s now 1,013 days old) and the last few weeks he’s been like a wound-up spring releasing its kinetic energy.

Becky and I have been pondering the reasons why he has been bouncing off the walls lately. While we have accepted the fact that it might simply be because of his age, we have had a couple of changes in the household. Most significantly, my mother-in-law moved from Hawaii to be with us full-time. In the past, she has come up for two or three months in the summer, but with Gus growing out of his britches and the days flying by so fast, she decided it was time to become a full-time nanna.

It took a few days for Gus to realize it, but we could see the dawning understanding that his nanna is here for the time being creeping into his consciousness. We wonder if his excitement over this development has contributed to his agitation.

In addition to his nanna arriving on our doorstep, Gus has gone from a half-day at day care three days a week to four full days a week. He is the youngest of the small group of children that Thia cares for, and we love having him around older children, but we wonder if being around all that "maturity" might be revving up his engine.

Despite feeling beat up by his tornadic temperament, I have been thrilled by the flowering of his intellect and the evolution of his character. He’s mostly a pretty happy guy, although he’s not always too happy about bath time or about putting on clothes when it’s time to trek out into the world. And, by golly, he’s developing a heck of a sense of humor. He makes jokes about cars eating muffins and then laughs and says something like "No ... gasoline!" And lately, every time we say something is awesome, he says "No ... great," and then laughs.

When he’s not zipping around the house overturning the box of toys I, for the third time today, just picked up off the floor, he’s clinging to me or Becky like a marsupial. Trying to pull him off to free up both hands to do a chore or fish something out of the fridge for him is like having flypaper stuck to you, only flypaper with fingernails.

One morning he had a breakdown when I tried to put a certain T-shirt on him. He threw his body down on to the kitchen floor and started screaming and sobbing. I pulled a stack of T-shirts out of his room and sat down on the floor with him, holding each one up and asking him if this is the T-shirt he wanted. Each time he screamed no and cried until I went through the whole pile. I eventually came back to the T-shirt that started the whole fandango and he immediately stopped crying and screaming, stood up with a smile and raised his arms in the air, ready to get dressed.

One night at dinner last week, around a mouthful of rice and cheese, he popped out with "I’m annoying." When we asked him about it, he said he was annoying at Thia’s house because he said, "No, thank you." He was very clear about it. He told us, "At Thia’s I said ‘I am annoying.’"
When we asked Thia, she just raised an eyebrow and said she had no clue. We’re still trying to figure that one out.

We’ve noticed that he’s stumbling on his words a little bit too, or getting caught up in sentences where the thought is in his head but the words aren’t there to finish what he started. Over the weekend he was trying to think of a word and finally he said, "Oh, I just don’t know!" It’s like his brain is pushing faster than his tongue and teeth can move, and he’s just all around tired and wired with the effort of it all.

Other times, he’s calm and goofy and funny and happy playing with his cars or in the sandpit I dug for him two weekends ago (oh, my aching back) or running between the rows in the garden, especially when I am watering: "Spray me! Spray Me!" he says while running around.

There’s obviously a lot going in his little head, and Becky and I are working on ways to keep his days consistent, with an earlier bedtime and more free time for him to do whatever he wants around the house or yard.

His is at a lovely age, despite the turmoil that’s a result of his rapid development. I love to sit with him and make him laugh and look into his eyes, put our foreheads together and make ape noises. Sometimes he gets a frown on his face -- which Becky says is when he looks the most like me -- and then bursts out laughing. What a delight!

I love watching him grow up, but at the same time I am heartsick that as each day passes, I can never get those sweet moments back. I treasure them in my heart and in my memory, and try to hold on to everything about this little boy before the days become months become years and he becomes a big boy, a teenager and then an adult.

It’s that thought that tempers my impatience when Gus is pushing the boundaries and testing the limits. Each day only happens once, and I am going to take them and hold on to them and squeeze as much of the juice out of them as I can, all the while holding on to this little tiger by the tail.

Bob Audette is the day editor at the Brattleboro Reformer, and proud father to Gus. You can reach him at raudette@reformer.com or 802-254-2311 ext. 160. Follow Bob on Twitter @audette.reformer.


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