HAPPY BIRTHDAY, REUBEN | And With That The Toddler Was Two
Today my baby turned two and I can’t quite believe it. It doesn’t seem two minutes ago, let alone two years, that I was bouncing on a birthing ball with a TENS machine around my neck, waiting impatiently to meet the littlest man of my life. And yet here we are, my baby – my boy – is two years old already.
A lot can happen in two years, especially when you’re a newborn baby one minute, a toddler the next. Reuben just seems so grown up now, a proper little boy, and I get these mixed feelings of being so, so proud of watching him flourish yo-yoed with pangs of sadness at losing my ‘baby’. Thankfully the enjoyment Reuben brings us each day makes this growing up lark so fun. Okay, maybe fun isn’t the first word that comes to mind when breakfast cereal is being flung across the room or I’m picking Lightning Mcqueen stickers off the kitchen floor, but life with my little man certainly gives me reason to get up in the morning.
So, kinda like what I did when Reuben was eighteen months, I thought I’d sit down and think about who two year old Reuben is. What he likes, what he does and how he’s growing up into toddlerhood.
SO… WHO IS REUBEN?
At two years old, Reuben is so ridiculously enthusiastic about the world around him. Super energetic and full of beans, he just loves to run and be free; charging full steam, investigating what lies ahead and figuring out how something works. Reuben may be little but he’s bold with a big heart, always keen to offer a smile, a wave and a “ba ba” goodbye.
Reuben’s only started talking more in the last month or so, but he doesn’t let his few words stop him from communicating. Lately Reuben has started to tell me he needs his nappy changing by going to the stair gate and rattling it, and if I’m not near he’ll shout “mama” too – this is because he knows we still do nappy changes on the table upstairs in the bathroom. Also, he knows his colours and can point them out on his colourful bath mat and by the bottles of shampoo and bubble bath. Reuben definitely has a mind of his own these days; he helps pick out his clothes for the day in the morning, throws his cereal on the floor if it’s the ‘wrong’ breakfast and exclaims “o-oh!” when he’s tipped said food up or emptied a big box of toys out, as if the recognition of the deed corrects it. And he does these cute, sensitive things that make me just want to bottle him up and keep him this innocent forever; he pokes your eyes saying “beep!”, and he knows when you’re sad and if he’s done something wrong and comes over and gives the gentlest of hugs to say sorry. And he gets protective over his closest friend by saying “no. no no!” to other kids and putting his hands out to stop anyone getting near. Reuben has a big heart and strong will.
YEAR TWO LANDMARKS
Two big events have happened since Reuben turned one – he’s dropped the naps and the bottles of milk.
Reuben’s baby naps gradually reduced to one nap a day, and now he mostly goes without. I think this is because from the moment he wakes up Reuben is on the go and he doesn’t allow himself the down time to give a nap a chance – there’s too much to do! The only time he will doze off is in his car seat if we’re driving somewhere and if he’s poorly and not slept well he’s usually so worn out he falls asleep with a cuddle.
One of my goals for the new year was to wean Reuben off the formula and baby bottles, but at 23 months he did it himself almost overnight. It was when he was poorly for a good week and his appetite just went. He’d take a sip of milk and that was it, so from those few nights of offering milk to no avail, Reuben made it clear bottles were no more. Even though we knew Reuben wouldn’t be drinking milk from a bottle for much longer, Both Mr C and I still felt quite sad about it because it marked the end of an era.
A few months ago we found ourselves beginning to worry about Reuben’s limited vocabulary and we took him to a speech drop in clinic. But a week or so later, Reuben started to come out with more and more words. He babbles all the time, quite confidently having a conversation with his mum and dad although most words aren’t really formed yet. He will give a word a try, mostly without being prompted. He can be shy about trying to say something but he loves being praised when he’s does, so he’s enthusiastic to learn.
Reuben’s first words came when he was about 14 months old and would call his dummy his “mam mam” and started to address us as mama and dada. Now, he says mama and dada a lot, but not as much as the word “no”, obviously when we’re offering him the ‘wrong’ food/cup/tv programme, and especially when he’s being protective over his friend or a toy he’s expected to share. Reuben comes out with lots of singular words these days – egg, sticker, digger and oval (obal) are fairly popular with him, because he has a thing for surprise eggs, diggers and well, the shape, oval. And he tells us when he sees an arrow, the colour blue (brue), red, and says “ba ba” with a wave to say bye to everyone and every thing.
Reuben loves to go on an ‘adventure’. When we say the word, he knows it means going for a walk or getting to ride his trike out somewhere in the great outdoors. He’ll enthusiastically go for his walking boots and head to the front door.
Now we’ve made a point of regularly attending groups for Reuben, he looks forward to going to them, getting to play with toys and do crafts and hang out with other little kids. He loves going to church too and will point out the building and shout to go if we drive past. We don’t use his ear defenders now he loves to hear the music and dances to it, but he’s always itching to get out to the creche and play with those awesome toys again. (I think he’s figured out if he’s first out there he gets first dibs on the tractors!)
Reuben also loves a surprise egg whether it’s spotting one on the supermarket shelf or on Youtube, so when he’s treated to one himself he goes crazy excited. Big wheeled vehicles are a big interest whether it comes in the form of a monster truck, digger or tractor, and he loves it when one drives past the house. He does like playing with little cars too though. His toot garage and track is a favourite while his Cars’ Lightning Mcqueen interest verges on obsession.
A love he really needs to fall out with is his dummy. While he won’t go around with one stuck in his mouth all day like he used to, we are restricting the time he’s allowed one. Okay, I’m way softer on the issue than Dad, who thinks Reuben doesn’t need one whereas I often disagree. It helps him settle which is basically in his car seat and when he’s tired, and obviously that doesn’t always coincide with bed time. So yes, Reuben does love a dummy, but I give him a year with this one. (Sorry, Reubs!)
When we’re home, Reuben likes to play with his shape sorting bus and do timed challenges held by Dad. And he has a thing for stickers which he takes pure joy just peeling off and sticking around the house, on his face, his cars, and basically anything that doesn’t really want a sticker sticking to.
Possibly because we share our home with two free roaming house rabbits, Reuben quite likes rabbits. He loves to point out images of rabbits when he spots them, and read or watch rabbits in the form of Miffy, Peter Rabbit and Bing. So when we’re out and about (basically Tesco) he knows where Pets at Home is and insists on a visit to see the rabbits and the fish.
REUBEN LIKES TO WATCH
TV-wise Reuben likes to watch a mix of ITV Be and Channel 5’s Milkshake in the morning with Paw Patrol probably being his favourite to watch, followed by Hey Duggee, Thomas and Friends, Peppa Pig and, only recently, Bing, over on Amazon Prime. However Youtube is like Reuben’s catnip, he’s addicted to watching Blippi, and once he’s on Youtube he can’t stop himself from a surprise egg opening.
REUBEN’S FAVOURITE FOOD
Reuben has always been pretty good with trying food, although lately he’s less inclined to and treats some foods, like baked beans, with suspicion. His favourite food is probably a mild chicken curry with rice which he’ll happily devour, even with a bit of naan bread to mop up the sauce. He also quite likes pasta dishes with lasagne being his most favourite followed by spaghetti bolognese. Thankfully he’s always been good with veg and enjoys a refreshing cucumber, and if given carrots, peas, sweetcorn or broccoli he’ll eat his veg first. His guilty pleasure is a bag of monster claws or cheese puffs – that’s after begging for chocolate, and if we’re out, Reuben is impartial to a Mcdonald’s cheeseburger. He’s rarely given juice because he’s happy to drink plain water, though these days he’s really taken to drinking refreshing cold cups of cows milk and can guzzle cups of the stuff.
REUBEN’S BEST FRIEND
If Reuben could say his name, he’d definitely tell me Elias is his best friend. He loves him and is always so excited when I tell him he’s going to see him that day. It’s nice to see Reuben making a little friend, someone he can learn with and have fun with, and the more time they seem to spend together the more stuck like glue they are.
REUBEN DOESN’T LIKE
Reuben’s got pretty sensitive to some things and lately I’ve seen the wobbly sad bottom lip quite a few times. He doesn’t like me to sing the row your boat nursery rhyme ending with the roar, and he’ll get upset about some Youtube videos coming on. Thankfully he doesn’t seem to get too upset by things and he’s a pretty tough cookie, but he doesn’t like other kids approaching his best friend or having a toy taken from him (but to be fair, what child does?) The biggest issue we seem to face with dislking is Reuben’s disinterest in a lot of fruit. He’s just not sure about fruit like oranges, or soft fruits, even pears come to think of it. He’s obviously just not big on fruit, because there was that time he did happily eat a ton of blackberries straight off the bush. Oh, and he doesn’t like the cold and having dirty hands so messy play has limited interest and he loves forest school as long as it’s not minus 6!
THE TERRIBLE TWOS
How wrong I was when I thought one year old Reuben was being naughty. It seems the terrible twos have arrived though, and he does it for the lols. Granted, often it’s just cheekiness or borne out of overtired hyperactivity; silliness where he’ll grab my hair and not let go because he thinks it’s funny, and he’s constantly pulling off Dad’s glasses and throwing them before cheekily devouring Dad’s face with kisses and bites. And he’ll hide behind cushions or curtains or he’ll run into a room on his own and shut the door, screaming giddily because he should have gone to bed an hour ago. But the throwing of food is probably what drives us most nuts – full bowls of cereal tipped out onto the floor only for the greedy rabbit to snaffle up. Or resisting his car seat with wriggling and writhing neither of us can wrangle. And the “no” to every offer of food or snack. Ridiculous!
DOING HIS JOBS
Reuben’s always been inquisitive and keen to figure out how things work, so he’s been quite hands on around the house pretty much since he could walk. He loves to come and help me with the washing machine and dryer and will enthusiastically get stuck in, me sorting the washing pile, while he loads the washer. Reuben’s also very good at helping fetch things, and will grab a towel when you need to dry your hands and he’ll carry cups through to Dad to get washed up. But his favourite job is ‘fixing’ his toys; he’ll go to the cupboard where the screwdrivers are kept and will prompt Dad to get them out so new batteries can make his cars go again. Dad lets Reuben try handling tools when and where it’s safe to which gives Reuben a big confidence boost. Recently he helped put together a big bookcase which he was super thrilled about. Obviously he couldn’t use the screwdrivers but he poked the screws and oddly knew where the little bolts went.
We still haven’t remedied the bedroom situation so we’re still co-sleeping with Reuben in the middle of our bed. It’s a regular double bed, it’s cramped (Reuben likes to star fish and it’s not uncommon to wake by a small foot in the face) and I’m yet to figure how to take him up to bed and leave him so I can reclaim my evenings as an adult with my husband. It’s not too bad though, Reuben generally settles easier these days and will stay asleep for hours mostly without cuddling up to me and instead snuggling one of his teddies, so I get to type away like this and have tea and toast brought up by Mr C.
We’ve only known Reuben two years, or 33 months if you include his time served inside, and already life before him feels pretty tame to what it is now. Reuben is the energy I lack, the get up and go when I feel gone, the spark in my fire. This boy may only be 2 years old but, I know, he’s gonna go places.