Dirk Knemeyer

Soren 2.0

My youngest son is now a full two years old! Much of Soren’s first two years was filled with his jolly disposition and infectious enthusiasm. He ate whatever he was served with fervor and threw himself physically into situations with wild abandon. Sometimes I even fear for his safety, as he anticipates being caught or otherwise accommodated for as he flings himself hither and thither. It’s one of those moments where I wonder if he would be best off being left to take a relatively safe bump in order to establish some discretion. But as he already exhibits far less comfort with me than his mother I’m going to leave that an idle thought as opposed to an adventure in parenting.

Soren is 36 1/2 inches tall and 28.1 pounds: tall and slender. He is cooperative and good at sharing and playing with others. More recently he has begun to show signs of jealousy toward his sister in certain moments – as she has done toward him for quite a while longer – but otherwise play constructively and productively. Over the last month or two Soren has also begun expressing preference in the form of tantrums. If there is something he wants or doesn’t want to do you can bet he is throwing himself on the floor and wailing as if he had been stuck. It is “age appropriate” behaviour – classic terrible twos – but I wonder why, despite the limited communication means at his disposal – there is no incremental effort to communicate preference, instead skipping straight to Defcon 1.

My relationship with Soren has been developing, albeit slowly. Since around the first of the year he has begun seeking me out. Sometimes it is handing me a book to read instead of his mother; other times it is sprinting up to me with delight as I come up the stairs, smiling and demanding “Ing! Ing!” which is his way of asking for a “swing”. While he was initially fearless about swings, and sometimes still is, now there are moments where I can feel his body tense up, followed by his face clouding in worry. I’m never entirely sure what sets off this reaction. Still, when he is enjoying the swings he is REALLY enjoying them. And tickles: unlike his sister who always had a love/hate relationship with tickles Soren just squeals and squeals.

Soren enjoys his books very much and, like his sister before him, has memorized the lines. He takes a more active role than Elena used to in speaking along, gleefully bellowing out the last word of every line or every other line in rhyming books, or jumping on for the parts that he enjoy the most such as a lion roaring or a truck honking its horn. At first this was with his Dr. Seuss books such as “The Cat in the Hat” and “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish”. His new favourite books are the Pete the Cat books. He asks for the “buttons” book or the “shoes” book and happily “reads” along the bits he has memorized and enjoys. While some of the Pete the Cat books are not as good those that involve singing and Pete’s philosophy that “It’s all good!” share being both entertaining and categorically positive in story and message.

Of course, the overriding theme with Soren is that he remains a dedicated momma’s boy. So often, without warning, he will become panicky in missing his mother and scramble to find her, screaming. On his birthday there was a moment where he was alone on the back deck, inching the new little bike he received from his grandma along. I went outside to be with him. As I opened the door and started slowly out he looked back and slightly anxious but continued what he was doing. At the point that I closed the door and stepped down toward him he stood up, in great distress, and headed back into the house crying. Yet, at another moment, he might call out “Daddy!” and be thrilled to see me. I wish I understood it, at least, as it is a continually crushing experience to have my son race away from me as if I were the devil himself come for his soul!

At least at this age Soren is the most outgoing of us – so long as mom is around of course. He get great joy out of being with other people. Sometimes, at places like the science museum, he will go up to all of the little girl who are within a year or two of his age and give them hugs. He also displays mischievousness. Periodically he will do something mean to his sister. He is still at an age where we can’t really tell him what is good and bad, right and wrong. He does not yet understand and be able to interpret that kind of feedback and direction. But sometimes when he does something mean to his sister we sit it: the gleam in his eye, the smile, the little thing that surely seems to indicate there is some little malice on his behalf that we are entirely unable to verify much less shape. It must be nice being two years old!

I remember there was a point with Elena when she consistently preferred or wanted her mother. It felt like it would never end, but eventually it did and now she and I are as close as I imagine we could be. While I don’t expect that with Soren – part of Elena and my closeness is how similar we are in temperament, enabling me to understand her well and fostering that closeness. While Soren’s disposition won’t be more clear until he gets older my suspicion is that unlike his sister he will remain closer to his mother than to me even as he gets older. Regardless, as long as he grows out of crying and running when I approach that will be plenty enough for me.

In the meantime I’m very happy to have him. Seeing him with Sigrid, or with Elena, or just doing his own thing, it is impossible to imagine the family without little Soren!

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