One of the most unexpected joys of parenthood is seeing your child learn how to love. It starts small, really. At first, it’s nothing more than a gut feeling – they way your baby looks at you, eyes shining with love. As he gets older, however, you see subtle, yet tangible proof that he’s taking his love cues from us. For example, when he was around a year old, he’d start absentmindedly stroking my arm as I carried him down the stairs – much like how I’m often absentmindedly rubbing his back. As he got a bit older, if he caught me crying, he’d look seriously into my eyes and wipe away my tears. He now gives hugs and kisses just because. Or once in a while he’ll look up from playing: “Love you, Mum” he’ll say, then turn back to his cars. Sigh. Heart melting, no?
His flirting, however, is getting out of control. He has somehow had, since birth, a sly “how you doin?” kind of grin (see pic). He has always saved it exclusively for women. Mainly women with big eyes and big smiles.
I have it on good authority that he gets this from my husband, who, at the age of two, would routinely approach the bikini clad babes on the beach with a hugely successful pick-up line of “hi!”
Raines’ approach is usually more subtle, but is proving to be equally effective. If he’s feeling really good about a particular girl, he’ll start with the sly grin to sucker her in, then attempt to make her laugh with some tounge-out-funny-face making. Apparently, this is good stuff.
What’s been interesting to watch, is the fact that he has actually started acting a bit…macho? Perhaps that word is too strong. But certainly swagger. Case in point: his little friend Caroline.
Caroline is a tiny, adorable little thing who is just a few weeks younger than Raines. She is delightfully giggly and Raines loves her. This love may stem in part because Caroline has never attempted to beat him up. (So unlike the rest of his little girl-buddies).
We were over visiting Nicole (Caroline’s mum) & Caroline the other day. Raines had just realized that this house contained stairs (oh, the novelty when you are an apartment dweller), therefore, Summiting The Stairs quickly became his top priority. Eventually, Nicole and I realized that resistance was futile (or really, we were both just to tired to deal), so off he went, charging to the top of the stairs, Caroline close behind. We heard them stomping around upstairs, shrieking with joy. Suddenly all went quiet. Which, of course, is never a good sign. Sighing, I climbed the stairs with some resignation, knowing my future probably held the carrying of a screaming toddler to the car. Peeking into Caroline’s room, I found my son perched atop a very tall dresser, feet planted, legs spread, in a pose I can only describe as macho. Caroline was giggling and pointing (he’s so brave!!) Raines, puffed up by his adorable audience, pointed imperiously at me: “Mum! Go DOWNSTAIRS!!”
I was right. My future did hold the carrying of a screaming toddler to the car. But I gave my little man 5 more minutes of acting manly for Caroline. I just couldn’t quite bring myself to so dash his pride.
But my very favorite story? When he combined his loving and flirting abilities with good, old-fashioned, toddler ingenuity. And a knowledge of his mum’s biggest weakness: a good foot rub.
It’s bedtime, Raines had (again) skipped a nap, and was therefore fighting sleep. (One of the many toddler paradoxes). He was trying all of his bedtime tricks: “HUN-GRY Mum! I’m HUN-GRY!” or “More kisses?” or “Poopy, Mum! I’m poopy!” You know, the usually littany. He had convinced me to give him one more snuggle, and after a few minutes, sensing that I was about to stir, tried a desperate move: he flopped down by my feet and announced, “Rub Mum’s Feet!!”
Which he did. For several blissful minutes. (This kid really didn’t want to go to bed).
Now I love a good foot rub. Hmm…..that statement doesn’t even begin to express it. I LOVE any foot rub of any kind, no matter how weak, short, or half-hearted the rub. Since ballet, my feet have never been the same, and now that I’m pregnant, my love of foot rubs have reached epic proportions.
I think he knows this. So yeah, I let him rub my feet for a couple of minutes. I was just about to gently remind him that it was bedtime, when again he preempted my move: “Want lotion, Mum?”
I cracked up, he grinned in triumph, posed for a pic, and then I ended up snuggling him to sleep. I am such a sucker.