There's nothing more boring and sentimental than hearing some guy blather on about his kid, but I'm doing it anyway.
Aside from the more generalized anticipation of watching your own child slowly mature into, well, a kind of 'you', I have to find the entire process of this stay-home-dad gig to be incredible.
After Painter began walking, which seemed to have occurred instantly, and quite young, the amount of time I spent interacting with him escalated dramatically. He was mobile, which meant I had to be all the more so. He approaches his second birthday, in February, and at this point has already consumed so much information it's a little boggling. He's got a variety of words and little questions he asks, though hasn't made much ground in the talking department until very recently. Physically, however, he just keeps excelling. Large at birth, he is equally large now, but much more defined, and pictures of him don't relay his age well.
He seems to outrun and outmaneuver just about everyone anywhere near his own age, which poses problems because the parents of these other kids think he's older than he is. When he gets into a skirmish with another kid over the taking of a toy or whatnot (usually not instigated by Painter, as he's pretty laid back until you mess with him), the parents always look at me as if I should do something because my kid's older and should know better, but what they don't understand is that, usually, their own kid is the older one. Whenever we go out to play with other kids at the park or local play palace, he tends to single out the two and three year-olds to play with, as they can keep up with him better and are around the same size. His dexterity is extremely surprising, as is his balance (he's constantly wanting to stand on high things that move, as if to improve his balance purposely). His throwing arm has been gaining in accuracy (where it is already, at this point, quite accurate), and he can scale just about anything (usually to jump off, which is horribly dangerous because, as I've said, he can scale anything). None of this is out of whack, really, as he's been doing it all for over a year now, but the level at which he seems to do all of this is pretty advanced. He has begun to understand questions and answers with much more insight, as well. It's interesting that he has become so ahead-of-the-curve physically, yet is still behind a bit in the talking department.
Man, a child's ability to associate is baffling to me. For instance, Painter will see a flashlight putting out a beam of light, then notice a lamp also puts out light, and he'll see my putting batteries in the flashlight, and then he'll go and look for the slot to put batteries in the lamp. This isn't very intriguing, but what happens next is: He discovers the lamp is plugged into the wall, turns it off and on a few times, unplugs it and tries again, and then decides that the wall is much like the batteries. He then scours the house looking for anything plugged into the wall, trying to see if any of these things have lights on them, and, after this exploratory adventure, begins tracing wires throughout the house to find the items he can interact with. He has discovered that things requiring electrical power usually do interesting things. He had no idea he could turn the stereo on until realizing there was a wire connecting it to the wall. Now, he can pick the track he wants to hear. Not especially interesting, but when you think he got all of this from watching me put batteries in a flashlight... Well, that's just impressive. And all kids do it on some level, all day long. Association. It shouldn't be too surprising, really, because adults do it constantly, but on a more broad level.
BEGIN TEXTBOOKISH DESCRIPTION: Associative thinking drives many facets of the human mind, from metaphors and comparisons, to the ideas behind most inventions.
RETURN TO GUSHY JOURNAL MUSINGS: The human mind is an oddball, creature-wise, but useful to our scheme of things. Looking up at the Moon and Sun, realizing they're both somewhat round and seem to rotate in the sky, are prime details for associating that, shit, if they're round and rotating, maybe this world we're on is, too. We all know how this particular association turned out, historically, and it seems old hat to us, but it's still a fascinating way to reach a conclusion, nonetheless. It is one of the greatest separators between us and else.
Right now, though Painter isn't quite at two years-old yet, he is most definitely going through the customary 'terrible twos', and has been for months. I do wish there was another name for this, as 'terrible twos' is so bland and overused, however, you can't really tell people "Our baby is now two, so naturally, he's being a real douche". Painter is really pushing his space and behavior, which can be both cute and frightening, as part of this 'testing his boundaries' involves doing things you tell him not to. Most parental advice is for good reason, i.e., "No no, that's hot." and "Stop! No no! Sharp!", so it can be a bit nerve-wracking to see him make a beeline for something just because you told him to leave it be.
Anyway, I'm keenly into it. The best part of watching him grow is, by far, just hanging out, which we can now do to some extent, without any stress. We'll just sit around hanging out sometimes. That's just cool as hell.
Since he's larger than the other kids his age, I've been keeping an eye out for any bully behavior I might notice on his part, though he's been pretty mellow, thus far. I have no doubt he's going to go nuts over sports, especially once school begins. This would be a boon to most dads (take a look at boy clothing at any department store and you'll be hard-pressed to find something without footballs or baseballs on it), but I'm not that dad. I did some solo sports back in the day, sure: Gymnastics, diving, pole vaulting... But I was never into team sports, and, having been a colossal and radically undermatured geek, had the usual trouble with the guys that were. So, I'm foolishly predisposed to a natural dislike of jock mentality. However, the other day, Painter picked several peas from his dinner and, estimating his shot, lobbed them one by one, up and over his high-chair, into the kitchen, and down into the trashbin. Whenever he made a shot, he'd throw a fist in the air and yell out, "Yah!", so all of my sad little attempts to keep the sportster in him from coming to fruition have failed, and are pointless anyway. I'm simply going to have to accept I've got a baby jock on my hands.
Well, my dad liked sports and I ended up writing poetry, so, I guess I've got it coming. I'm going to have to learn how to play that cliched father-son game of catch, now. Trippy.