I still feel a little separated from reality as I watch him tear around the playroom, his oversized head pushing his gait just slightly forward as he runs. He's grown so very, very much, and while I can hardly believe the size of him now, I can't say that I still clearly remember a time when he was very small.
Even more than Abby's, the timeline of his infancy has escaped me, mired as it was in sleep deprivation, agony, and stress. I still mourn for it at times, the loss of that precious time that I'm struggling to enjoy now with Mia, when he was so new that his every sound, smell, movement, and facial expression was a tiny miracle. When I could prop him in the crook of one arm and walk around for awhile. When I didn't have to wait and take advantage of a high temperature or severe overtiredness to lay him down at my side and cradle him along the curve of my own body. When his eager hands took ahold of me as he nursed, eyes occasionally locking with mine and causing him to break off in a dopey smile.
It's a challenge to keep up with him now, always primed for a new adventure in an old haunt. His favorite flavor of trouble-making is wreaking havoc in the corner of the loveseat that is usually occupied by me. Once there, it takes him mere seconds to find every hands-off object on the shelf that suddenly becomes accessible, from baby monitor, to phone, to tablet, to tissue box, to unfortunately placed mug of old coffee.
Among his long list of misdeeds: breaking my first hot flash, spilling countless mugs of above-mentioned coffee, grabbing at tablecloths, attempting to pull down the changing table, dumping a pile of books onto his head, shredding and spreading piles of napkins and tissues, chewing the finish off of crib rails, banging on trays and tables, and inspiring his older sister to do much of the same.
Several times a day, he makes it his mission to get into the diapers that I once stacked so carefully in the temporary safety of the pack-n-play. When he's not banging on walls, opening play-kitchen doors (as Abby obsessively closes them behind him), climbing furniture, or hanging off of the gate, he's expertly playing the role of annoying younger brother. He delights in knocking down the block towers that Abby has just built, stealing crayons, infringing on personal space during Time-Outs, and (newest and best of all) emptying out storage cubes in which Abby has dutifully put away her toys.
I'm not sure of his current height, but I know that he's a wiry 25 lbs that's probably mostly in his noggin. He's got all but four of his scheduled teeth- those pesky canines- though I can see the points of at least two protruding through his gumline. Once that's done he's due for just four more in the form of two-year molars, but I'm hoping for at least a year's respite before we tackle that last terrible teething milestone.
Though he's still taking his time verbalizing, he demonstrates at least one new word per week, and occasionally pulls out the oldies-but-goodies like "more" and "bye-bye." He's also not shy about practicing "Mama," and repeats it frequently, to my great delight. He's also taken a renewed interest in me, in general, now that my arms and person are more frequently free as Mia gains independence and keeps a regular nap schedule. His rare moments of stillness take place in the seat of my lap, snuggled up against me as he chews his fingers and spies on my phone and tablet activities or watches a show that I have streaming over my device.
However, one of the newest, and most delightful developments is his sudden transformation into a bona fide Big Brother. He's got Little Brother down to a science, but I've had to spend a great deal of time since Mia's birth keeping him at a bit of a distance from her until I got his rough-and-tumble tendencies out of control. He's still a little too hard on her at times, but for the most part I can trust him to touch her appropriately now, and he loves to give her kisses.
He's also taken a recent interest in truly interacting with her, which is fantastic, especially when antics like these ensue:
(Note the desperate state of the playroom floor- a mess that took Michael mere minutes to create.)
My little Mia- she just can't resist him. Neither can Abby, who copies his every bad move with such admiration I sometimes wonder just who is the older sibling. One more reason for me to hold on to these early days with my littlest girl as hard as I possibly can. By the time she's mobile, Michael will have become that much better at mischief, and with two acolytes under his wing, what hope will there be for me, then?