After Joanna's birth, Oliver has become increasingly more independent. He amazes me daily. With that independence comes some feelings of guilt on my part. I'm used to spending almost every waking moment with him. He plays for hours by himself now, and I can't help but wonder if that's OK.
Oliver has always wanted to do things himself. He wants to load the laundry. He wants to start the dish machine. Recently, he's grown bored of some of these activities, but he gets upset if I do them without him. Oh, two year old logic! So, I have to be sneaky when I do chores around the house, or I have to bribe him to help me to avoid tantrums.
When Oliver does have a fit, he is often able to calm down by a quick time out. We have him stand in the corner, and we count to some number. The more severe the tantrum is, the higher we count, but we never count for more than two minutes. This has spawned a love of numbers from our favorite 26 month old. We have not actively taught Oliver numbers like we did letters, but he's picked them up from doing things like helping us use the microwave. Oliver can count up and down to 27 all by himself! He seems to recognize all of the numbers by sight, although he makes mistakes occasionally. He enjoys counting things. If there's a lot of something, he just counts them as 27. If there's a small number of something, he'll count them. He always gets it right if there's 1 or 2 of something, and he almost always gets it right if there are 2 to 6 of something. The kid just loves numbers (like his mama!).
Oliver now "reads" all of his books at night. His memory is amazing. He knows all of the books we regularly read. Unfortunately, he gets upset if I (or Andrew) try to read any books to him. This makes introducing new books nearly impossible. At night, he reads about 6 books to us from memory. Recently, he's started to delay reading them to delay bedtime. It's a struggle because if I try to read to him to move things along, it results in a tantrum!
As for night time, Oliver is still sleeping in his crib. He hasn't tried to climb out yet, but we want to move him to his big boy bed soon to free up the crib for Jo in a few months. Still, it's hard to be motivated to move Oliver when I know it might result in less sleep for Andrew and me. With a baby in the house, every minute of sleep is precious. Oliver does nap in his big boy bed sometimes. When we put him in the big bed for naps, he sleeps about half the time. The other half of the time, he just sits or lays on the bed and plays instead! So, we use the crib for naps a lot, too.
We still don't watch any movies with Oliver, and we rarely let him watch TV. He watches a lot of Sesame Street music videos on the computer, though. He's memorized about three dozen songs and tries to sing along with them. It's the cutest thing ever, and I love listening to the words he sings with the songs. I'm not sure how much I should limit his music video watching. When I need to nurse Jo, I let him watch his videos. After his nap, when he's crabby, I let him watch his videos. In total, he's probably actually watching music videos for 3 hours a day. That's a ton! Considering he's only awake for 12 hours out of the day, it's shocking to me that 1/4 of his awake time is spent watching music videos. There are days I decide that there won't be any video watching at all. He does pretty well with it and will go entertain himself in other ways while I nurse his baby sister. But when he runs off and plays with some electronic toy with blinking lights, I wonder how that can be much better than Sesame Street music videos. So, we only do 1-2 days a week with no videos at all. Sometimes, I think a children's movie might be better than videos because he can learn to follow a plot. But, I'm not exactly sure if he's able to follow a lot of a movie yet anyway. We might introduce a kid's movie soon.
As for letters, I've just started to teach Oliver some of the lower-case letters. And by some, I mean I taught him lower-case "G." I introduced him to lower-case "A" today. Of course, he has no problem recognizing lower-case C, O, P, S and Z on his own.
I've also tried to teach Oliver how to read a little, using capital letters. I think he understands that letters spell words, and he likes to listen to me spell "Oliver" to him. He won't tell me what words are by themselves without a picture to go with them, but I think he will soon. We've been working on "Mom," "Dad," "Oliver," and "Jo."
Oliver's pretend play continues to expand. He pretends to be a dog sometimes, and he absolutely loves playing with all of his stuffed animals. When he uses his pretend kitchen, he adds pretend spices and pretend water.
He's also putting a name to some feelings, which I think is just great. Actually, he really only does it with "mad," although I've been trying to teach him what sad and happy mean, too. He'll tell me when Jo is mad, and he'll tell me when he is mad.
Speaking of Jo, he loves to help his little sister. He tells her, "Good morning!" when she wakes up. When she cries, he yells, "I'm coming, Jo!" He plays with her stinky feet and loves to give her hugs and kisses. He wants me to put her on his lap to hold her all the time. He also wants to help me give her baths. I let him wash her feet, and he will dump small cups of water over her head to rinse the shampoo out.
Oliver wants to do a lot on his own. He'll frequently tell me to stay where I am or wait. He'll also kick me out of his room sometimes so that he can play blocks by himself or "read" by himself.
I get concerned a lot that Oliver doesn't get enough time interacting with others. I try to utilize MOMS Club to get him more exposure to other kids, but being around lots of other kids seems to result in an endless tantrum, so we usually end up leaving.
One final observation about Oliver's stage of development is his shyness. Oliver is very shy with other people around, and if he makes a mistake around other people, he acts humiliated. For example, if he grabs the wrong person's cart at the grocery store or falls on his butt at the bottom of a slide at the park in front of others, he lays down and tries to bury his head like an ostrich. He's just absolutely embarrassed by his mistakes. My brother was like that as a child, so, thankfully, my family understands his behavior and gives him the space and distance he needs in those moments. Strangers, though, often make it worse by huddling over him, asking him if he's OK, or (worst of all) teasing him for it. The worst thing you can do to Oliver is laugh at him. So, we do our best to hide our laughter if Oliver does something cute, like make up the wrong words to songs.
In summation, I actually like Oliver's "Terrible Twos." He's really becoming quite the extraordinary and independent little guy. It's not always fun dealing with the tantrums that come along with it! However, I love being amazed by him on a regular basis. I'm just so proud of the two year old that he's become.