Feet-First Into Fall

Filling the hours for the chatty boy.


Ah, teething. How quickly we forget. Mr. T got a new bottom tooth recently, and he's working hard on a back tooth on top—not sure what it's called but it's sharp and big and halfway back. I can feel the tip but I think it's really been bugging him—his sleep has been a little wonky lately and he's generally a bit of a crankpot, though he also has a runny nose and congestion, so who knows what causes the bad mood!

All I know is that his bad moods carry over to me, big time. Hard to maintain a cheery disposition when the child is miserable.

Last Thursday it was rainy and gross out and T woke up extra—early, so I was immediately filled with dread at the mere thought of filling five hours before lunchtime when we couldn't really play outside. My friend Lauren suggested I take a trial class at a kids' gym where she's been taking her son for ages, so we bundled into the car and drove over to Allston, where My Gym is tucked into the basement of the grocery store two blocks from the dorm where Ben and I met about a million years ago! (Actually, we first met in the dorm elevator and then walked to that very store together and he proceeded to buy a repulsive sandwich and I warned him not to and turned out to be right. The more things change...)

I have to say, I was so impressed. There were three teachers, all of whom seem to have child development backgrounds, and about 15 kids with caregivers. The class was at least an hour, with lots of variety: Free play time, group warm-up, periods where different stations were set up to let the kids "walk" on the balance beam, jump off a big box, etc., and lots of other things. I loved that it was a big padded room where I could let T go wild and really burn some energy. He fell in love with a mini-staircase (three steps up, a little platform, three steps down) that has handrails so he could go up and down standing up. By the time we left (after registering for the next session) he was exhausted. The classes aren't cheap but I felt like there was a lot of value; it's very customized, with the teachers working on different skills with each kid. I know I'll be grateful for the diversion as the weather worsens.

Our best days are definitely the ones when we're out and about all morning. Yesterday (Sunday) we all got up and went to breakfast at our favorite local place at 8 or so, then spent hours in the amazing playground in the Cambridge Common (it's like a Robinson Crusoe/Swiss Family Robinson/Peter Pan fantasyland). I made a new mom-friend, bonding over European kids' clothes, and T wore himself out walking along the rope net, crawling around in the sand, swinging and trying to rock climb (see photo).

He passed out in the stroller on the way home (oops), so we let him nap from 11:45-2 and then have a late lunch. Then it was off to Ikea to get a bigger toy storage unit for his room. I'll try to get some photos of the room once it's pulled back together; after his birthday and now that he's playing with a lot more toys things had gotten cluttered and chaotic in there, so I went for the 8-cubby Expedit to try to shove some of it out of sight. That meant moving the little bookcase out to the living room, but I think once I've sorted out where everything should go it will be an improvement.

By the way, is anyone else amazed by the increase in comprehension at this age? I don't know if I ever wrote about how Tuck started signing "more" and saying "chhhhh" when he hears the word "cheese." I always said "More cheese?" while making the sign when he was eating mostly cheese/bread combinations, so now he thinks that is the sign for "cheese," not "more." If someone is taking a photo and he hears "say cheese," I hear him wherever he is going "chhhhhh" and knocking his fingers together.

I'm trying to be purposeful about repeating the things I really need him to understand, so for the last week or so I've been repeating "feet first" whenever he is getting into a sandbox, climbing off of something, etc. It's working! As soon as I say it he swivels around. He still goes in front-ways, which only helps with the sandbox, and not at all with stairs, but at least I know he understands what I'm saying. We also got a set of foam letters and numbers for the bath, and last night as Ben was bathing him I kept hearing "Ayyyyyy" from the bathroom whenever Ben said "and here's A!" His favorite vowel, though, is O. Whenever he really likes something or is kind of amazed he says "Ohhhhhhh" with the funniest, most-exaggerated perfect-O of a mouth. Hilarious.

Kate Flaim is a freelance journalist and food blogger based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.