It has been an exhausting summer for the Hays family. While dealing with drilling a well due to the bankruptcy of the community water system and numerous house-related crises, Dante somehow managed to continue to flourish and Mommy and even Daddy somehow found time for what seemed like constant excursions including the Aquarium , Pacific Science Center, Seattle Center and Space Needle, the Circus (where Dante rode his first elephant), Kla HaYa Days in Snohomish, Derby Days in Redmond, hiking to Wallace Falls and Deception Pass, Remlinger Farms, the Microsoft Company Picnic at Mt. Si, the Evergreen State Fair, the Puyallup Fair, and many many many different parks. Dante helped celebrate Grandpa Chuck’s BDay, Mommy’s BDay, Daddy’s BDay, and Misia’s BDay. Both Baba Yaga and Dziadzi visited during these three months, as did Brent and Carmen, and Daddy took some time off as well. Dante also visited with Agnieszka, Misia, Annie, Trish, and Sophia and he even stayed overnight with Grandma and Grandpa.
The biggest attractions this summer were carnival rides. Dante was big enough for all the little rides this year. His favorite was the “BIG BIG BIG bumpy slide”, but he also enjoyed the “round and round swings” and various car/rocket/airplane rides. His mission in life, however, is “when I get bigger, I will go on the BIGGEST upside-down elevator”. Please note that that is a direct quote, so you can see how much his language skills have fleshed out. What is an upside-down elevator, you ask??? Well, there’s a ride called “Kamikaze”, in which people in a smallish container are made to go up very high in an arc and then eventually turned upside down to go all the way around. So Dante, with his imagination going full blast, has deemed it to be an upside-down elevator. He also expressed great interest at the bungee jumping at the Puyallup Fair, but acknowledged that he is not quite ready for that. He loves rides but seems to know his limits pretty well and will not go on something that is “too scary” “until I get bigger” or “until I turn 4 years old”. Yes, we finally have first person speech!!!!
Everywhere Dante goes, people continue to be surprised by what he can do and say. He is extremely active and coordinated. His Polish friends are not too impressed with his Polish, which although pronounced reasonably well, only comes out when “required” to get something he wants and it is very formulaic, rather than natural. Unfortunately, his English has become so good, even Mommy has a hard time speaking Polish to him especially since so many activities occur in English speaking surroundings. And now since both Agnieszka and Misia are also attending preschool, the instant they get together, the Moms shake their heads in bewilderment as they watch their children suddenly switch to English when talking amongst themselves. Dante continues to understand Mommy when she speaks Polish to him however (about as selectively as he does English!)
Imaginative play has continued to escalate. Enraptured by puppets of any form, Mommy and Daddy each have a small army of characters they must “become” for various activities. Bath time with Mommy, for example, is a time to be with a cow-sponge-scrubby named “Krowka” (which means little cow in Polish - pronounced Krooofka). Bath time with Daddy is a time to be with a pig-sponge-scrubby named “Hamlet” (which Dante insists is pronounced Helmut). Dante finally made his own first naming of one of his favorite “friends”, a blue marionette critter which Mommy purchased at the Redmond Toddler Group Garage Sale. He had decided the marionette was female quite some time ago, and referred to it as HER (you could hear the capitalization in his voice), but SHE kept insisting she wanted a real name. Dante patiently sat with Mommy as she patiently read about a thousand female names to him off of some baby website. He was very quick to reject them all until he got to “Dominique” and said “Yes, sort of that name, but it’s wrong. HER name is Dominy!”
Dante seems to have no interest in television at all nowadays. He will barely tolerate even half an episode of Blue’s Clues. His “screen time” has been completely replaced by his own computer games or by watching Daddy play computer or Playstation games with Dominy sitting by his side and adding age appropriate editorial content a la Mystery Science Theater 3000.
Recently, since Mommy is desperately trying to ween him off of the last little bit of occasional breastfeeding to which he is so desperately clinging, Dante has been obsessed with breasts and breast milk with regard to all people and animals. He has been known to walk into Tully’s at Redmond Town Center with Mommy and to her great mortification introduce himself to the entire locale with a “Hi. My name is Dante. This is my Mommy. My Mommy has nice breasts.” The Evergreen Fair also encouraged his obsession as he saw a giant sow with her two day old piglets happily suckling, cows “with udder breasts” (which kind of sounds like “with other breasts”), baby goats, etc. Whenever he sees a new animal, he immediately asks if it has breast milk. Mommy decided to turn this into a learning opportunity and has introduced the concept of mammals. Unfortunately, in her desire to clarify but keep things simple, Dante’s logic occasionally gets the better of her. A recent conversation example:
The biggest news of September has been the start of preschool. Dante now attends the Duvall Montessori School three times a week on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 12:30 to 3 pm. And along with school, he has made the transition to wearing underwear all day very smoothly and with currently no accidents at school or anywhere else except at home and a few times when waking from a nap. He still sleeps in diapers at night, though, and will probably continue doing so for some time as he adjusts to his new routine. School has opened up new horizons for Dante, as he is learning a new set of rules, how to deal with kids somewhat older than him on a regular basis, a new teacher, and of course, lots of new activities (apparently he is especially fond of washing windows!). He finds all of this fascinating, but after the first few classes Dante decided that school absolutely must be shared with Mommy. He resists being taken to school and tries to make Mommy feel horribly guilty for leaving him there, but once Mommy is out the door, he is quite happy. Mommy always returns to find him smiling and excited about something he wants to show her. Mrs. Gohring, his teacher, has pronounced him “extremely bright” but notes that “he keeps her incredibly busy”. Apparently, Dante does not approve of Mrs. Gohring’s organizational system and keeps rearranging the entire facility, including, for example, all the name tags on the children’s cubbys (he didn’t like where his was, and if he moved his own, well… the others had to be moved as well).
Dante also started a new semester of Kindermusik on Thursdays with Ms. Allison, where he feels safe that Mommy won’t leave him (little does he know what awaits him when he turns 3 and graduates to the next level).
Glancing back, Dante’s “terrible twos” have not been terrible at all. He has been predominantly a happy child, challenging, yet surprisingly easy to reason with and capable of understanding consequences of his actions. Instead of the typical "NO, NO, NO" stage, which Dante only passed through briefly, he has instead been more of a "Not Yet" child. He says both "Not Yet, and "Jeszcze Nie" quite frequently, calmly and firmly, without the fussing or whining that is often associated with negativity. Mommy has found that indeed most often simply waiting a minute or two for him to do something, or offering him alternatives or consequences is much more effective than demanding that it be done that instant. Mommy fears, however, that the threes will be less than thrilling, as Dante is becoming more willful, more independent yet simultaneously more demanding, more persistent, more perceptive, more manipulative, etc etc. In her desire to find some common ground with other mothers of children in this age range who may have other techniques to deal with all of this, Mommy has recently joined a brand new MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group in Duvall, which Dante seems to enjoy and which Mommy hopes will give her some enlightenment, solace, and Mommy Time.
And in the meantime, Daddy assures her everything will be fine…