The 18-24 month pants that fit Conal perfectly last week are now too short. Way too short. Embarrassingly short. Pack ’em away short.

And then there are the words. They coming in bursts. Yes, I keep track. Yes, I have a list. Feel free to skip — it’s not very exciting.

  1. Apple
  2. Ball
  3. Balloon
  4. Banana
  5. Bike
  6. Book
  7. Car
  8. Cheese
  9. Chili
  10. Dada
  11. Dog
  12. Done
  13. Down
  14. Eat
  15. Elmo
  16. Golf clubs
  17. Groceries
  18. Hat
  19. Jeans
  20. Juice
  21. Milk
  22. Mom
  23. Mower
  24. No
  25. Out
  26. Running
  27. Shoes
  28. Stop
  29. Trees
  30. Truck
  31. Up
  32. Yankees
  33. Yes

A week ago (back when all of those pants still fit) he had about a dozen measly words. Now, he has more than double that. It’s an explosion! A word explosion, much like his growth explosion.

Maybe instead of the Little Jobber, we should start calling him Conal the Exploding Toddler!


And, just like that (she says, snapping her fingers), Conal says helicopter. And fire truck. Sure, the words sound more like hebbacobba and eeaah ick, but you get the picture. We’re making progress over here at Chez Jobber!

Yes. This is what passes for excitement during these snowed-in days.

Apparently, when you stop responding to your son’s gahs, he starts to be able to say things like fish, eggs, tree, cat and milk.

Lesson learned.

Conal has this puzzle that he loves. It’s a wooden board puzzle, with 8 or so zoo animals on it. If you ask him where the zebra goes, he will point to the zebra’s space. Same for the lion. And the elephant, and the giraffe, and all the rest.

I think this is cute.

As I learned tonight, so does my family. Which leads me to my confession:

I confess that I made my child perform tonight.

It is true. I have become that person.

We were sitting out on the screened-in porch and I asked Conal to get his puzzle. He trotted off to his playroom and then I realized that the puzzle was up on the shelf so I followed him, took the puzzle off the shelf and handed it to him. He took it and went back out to the porch where he promptly sat down in front of Grandma and dumped the pieces on the floor.

I then proceeded to sit next to him and ask, “Where does the panda go?” He pointed correctly. My mom praised him lavishly. So I kept it up. “Where does the tiger go?” Same result. “Where does the parrot go?” Again, same result.

And so it went.

We all clapped and cheered and Conal smiled and laughed. I was a proud mama because, you know, he’s so smart! So able to identify the animals! And show us where they go! And he follows direction! And tells us all that the cow says, “Moo!”

I’m exhausted just thinking about it. And I’m planning on getting a grip. Planning on NOT making Conal perform. At least not on a regular basis. After all, he’s just a little jobber.

I would really like this flailing stuff to go. It just isn’t working for me.

It doesn’t happen all the time but, lately — like, yesterday and this morning — it has been happening a lot. Flailing accompanied by whining that quickly becomes crying. And it, well, it sucks. It is just too much.

Now, I am fully aware that I recently mistook the Little Jobber’s molar pain for the end of the world, which sent me spiraling down the tunnel of paranoia. So, I will not assume that he is flailing and whining and crying simply to drive me down that other tunnel, the tunnel of insanity. However. It could seem that way. On first glance. Or second glance, even.

On third glance, it appears that he is frustrated. He knows what he wants, but can’t tell me. Sure, he can walk over to the refrigerator and try to open it. And, I can gather he wants something from there. But, he can’t say, “Mom, I would like to have a piece of cheese and, perhaps, a dried apricot. And while we have the door open, can you please let me see what’s hiding in the back of the crisper? I’ve always wanted to know . . .”

Nope, he can’t say that. And so he becomes frustrated and then things go downhill from there.

Luckily, he bounces back well and the flailing accompanied by whining that quickly becomes crying usually subsides within a minute.

But that minute? I could do without it.

This afternoon, on the phone with an ex-colleague:

Him: So, is Conal talking yet?

Me: Yes! He says down and out . . .

Him: Down and out?

Me: Yes! And —

Him: What? Are you raising a depressed, penniless, hobo over there?

Hmm . . . I guess I should rethink how I list his words . . .

It has begun.

Conal has added, “Again!” to his vocabulary. As in, “Again! Again! Again! Again! Again!” This is usually urged when I am doing something that is particularly exhausting, like pretending to jump rope while counting to 10 and then landing in a plie and making a silly face. Since it’s often said amid belly laughter so strong that it causes Conal to tumble over, I give in. And do whatever it was that brought on the laughter, again. And again. And again.