Who is 1 year old Ben?

by Kristi Van Dyk in

It's happened ... the first birthday has come and gone. I think it's natural that around that first birthday, a mother watches her baby. How much has he changed? How much will he change just by being one. I've had a one year old before, and I should have known that on that magical morning he wouldn't wake up looking drastically different. BUT, in the week that followed I found myself noticing just how very grown up he really is. I want to take time and cherish the memories of what my little Benny has become. He is absolutely the most fun little one year old. I don't feel like I'm insulting Kayleigh by saying that. Kayleigh was an amazing child, a well-behaved, calm, contented one year old. Benjamin is none of those things. He's rambunctious, he's active, he's STRONG, and oh is he ever FUNNY. He exudes joy and laughter, and I know that some day this winsome personality will capture people's hearts. Each day he makes me fall more and more in love with him.

So, here's an update on my little love: Benjamin Steven.

Physically - About 3 days before his first birthday Benjamin moved from the army crawl to the traditional crawl. He was at my parents for a night, so Daddy and I could work on prepping the house for his party. When we came to pick him up, he took one look at us, hopped out of my mom's lap and crawled straight for us. I'd never seen him do it before and I simply died laughing. It was as though he was mocking me for ever worrying about him, developmentally. He always could, he was just waiting for the perfect time spring it on me.

With the onset of the traditional crawl came his DESPERATE attempts to pull to stand. He's been walking with help (Mommy holding his hands and letting him walk in front of me) for almost 8 weeks now, but as he pulls to stand, I know he's going to start creeping along the furniture. You can see it in his eyes already ... he's been bit by the freedom bug.

Along with his traditional crawl came his massive desire to be into every cupboard we have in the house. In the last week alone he's emptied the kitchen trash all over the pantry, he's dumped out packages of dishsoap, squeezing each packet into oblivion over the kitchen floor. He's emptied every tupperware dish onto the floor, after trying it on as a hat. He has sprinkled my floor with buckets of flour and sugar (which he dug through the cabinets to find). He's taken out roll after roll of toilet paper and handfulls of his sisters pull-ups and scattered them about the room. AND any chance he gets, he scoots out of the living room, into Kayleigh's bedroom and slams the door as hard as possible. While we're both attempting to get back into her room without injuring him, he will scamper over to her sock drawer and start systematically tossing socks all over the room. Most days it becomes Benjamin vs. the ladies of the house - and the funny thing is, we're NEVER mad at him. He always manages, despite his "holy terror-dom" to make us adore him. It's probably that dimple that he flashes each time he knows we're on his trail.

Socially - Benjamin LOVES to entertain. He thinks people are GREAT!!! He loves watching the tennis girls (especially Lo); he enjoys playing with other babies (especially Alexa). He loves all manner of new friends (provided Mommy is NOT around to be seen or heard). He waves at anyone who meets his eye at the grocery store and USUALLY manages to draw them in for a conversation. They almost always open with something witty like, "You don't feed that baby enough." Nevertheless, they are drawn over to our cart by his adorable smiles, giggles, or waves ... all of which he turns on at the drop of a hat.

Ben is a giving child. He shares everything he has (not that he has much of a choice with such an overbearing/controlling older sister). He will offer up his veggie straws to any smiling stranger. If Kayleigh takes his toy, he will whine for a moment, but then move along to find something else. He almost never gets angry when you take something away (unless, of course, it's food ... then be prepared for a battle which you probably won't win).

Ben laughs easily, cries infrequently. He sleeps VERY WELL. We were told by at least two babysitters that he could easily be loaned out to people who want an "inaccurate" picture of what babies are like. So, if you know someone who wants to believe that babies are "easy," Ben's a taker (not that we're offering to loan him out ... if you want our 2 1/2 year old, we could talk ... but not our Benner!)

Benjamin speaks often and is clear enough for his Mommy, Daddy and sister to understand. BUT I'm positive that most people wouldn't make out what his words are. That's fine. It serves his purpose and he's learning that words are necessary and important. Ben says, "All done," "Mamma," "Dadda," "Yes," "Eat (surprised?)," and "YEAH!!!" He also repeats nearly anything you say to him. If you persist long enough, he will eventually give it a go. One other interesting thing we've noticed is that he's quite attentive to tone of voice. When Mickey Mouse asks a question he will always respond with LOTS of gusto and energy, as if he's answering him. He doesn't always say the words properly or even say words at all. BUT when Mickey asks, he speaks!!! Similarly, when Mommy's tone of voice turns angry (even if it's with Kayleigh), so does Ben's expression. His brows furrow, his eyes get dark, you can see the look of complete aggression brewing in there. It takes a while for it to dissipate ... I'm afraid there's a temper in that boy ... furious and red. He might be long suffering and quite happy, but I'm afraid there's something fiery and hot that will explode when necessary.

Ben's Typical Day: 7:30 - Wake up eat breakfast (typically a bowl of cereal or oatmeal with a Nutrigrain bar or granola bar with a glass of milk). 8:30 - Relax/"watch a show"/Play 10:00 - Nap/rest time 11:00 - Run errands/Go for a run/Play at the park 1:00 - Lunch (usually half a sandwich or peanut butter on crackers, some fruit - okay a lot of fruit, some cheese or possibly some snacky thing like veggie straws) 2:00 - 4:00 NAP TIME 4:00 - 6:00 Playtime (outside whenever possible!!) 6:00 - 7:30 Dinner with the family/dance parties 7:30 BED

Mommy and Daddy's Favorite "Ben-isms" *  This boy lights up like a Christmas tree whenever you come to wake him from a nap/bed. He almost never  complains about being left in his crib awake. So unless he's laughing and cheering (which is how he most often wakes up), you have to just check on him or he would hang out in there with bear all morning

* My boy loves the outdoors - as soon as we started opening the windows and blinds for the beautiful Spring sun - he began pointing outside and squealing. In fact, on our way to the changing table in the morning he can usually see his playset in the back and he'll start saying "Ide ... Ide .. Ide." Because he's ready to go slide down the slide RIGHT NOW.

* Ben adores music ... music of all kinds. He loves Mickey Mouse songs, toddler Bible songs, Mommy's silly made up rhymes, B.O.B. Magic is still his favorite, but anytime a tune comes on, even if it's just a simple chorus he starts to dance. Ben's dance involves a hip shake from side to side. No other body parts ever move ... he simply shakes his hips. It's the most hilarious thing you've ever seen. Lately he's added singing to his repetoire. He picks out a familiar sound and belts it out with great gusto. So so charming.

* Ben is an adventure seeker. If it looks semi-dangerous, he will love it. If it seems like it'd be scary or annoying, he's all over it. Being swung around, held upside down, chasing the roar and lights of the vacuum, even our slightly obnoxious/aggressive cat ... all of these are challenges that my son faces HEAD ON! (You try vacuuming the floor with an active baby headed straight for the brusher with his fingers!!)

* Ben is a wuss when it comes to pain. I thought this early on (like at 6 months) when he just couldn't handle his shots like his sister did. This has been confirmed in the second 6 months of his life. If he is injured, even the most insignificant bump or cut (which is often with his adventure seeking nature), he will scream and cry until Mommy hugs him. And then, unlike his rough and tumble sister who takes a pounding without whimpering, after Mommy holds him, he will still snuggle into my shoulder and whimper and cry for another 10 minutes. If I set him down too early, he will burst into abandonment/fake tears all over again. He needs his lovin' (and then some) to feel better. (Daddy thinks he needs to toughen up, but Mommy's okay with a boy who wants his Mom ... at least at this age).

* Ben is a bear lover ... and not just any bear. When I was pregnant with Kayleigh (and we didn't know the sex of the baby), my mom got me a blue teddy that matched this yellow teddy that my brother and I had. I carried my yellow teddy EVERYWHERE!!! He was my companion. I still remember dusting around him on my bookshelves when I was well into my teenage years. He was a significant figure in my life. Anyway, after Kayleigh was a girl, my mom got another teddy in pink. This teddy became Kayleigh's but she never latched on to it. Benjamin, however, took the blue bear around 3 months and hasn't given it back. When he's especially tired, cranky, or any time you put him down the teddy is a must. He can handle strange rooms, different sitters, different blankets, surroundings, music, ANYTHING ... as long as he has his bear. He even asks to bring it with him to the changing table and into the first hour after he wakes in the a.m. When he wakes in the middle of the night, it's not for his pacifier, it's because he can't find bear. As soon as bear is snuggly back in his arms, he's back to sleeping ... I love that my baby boy wants his bear ... love it.

* Benjamin is a homebody. I don't think this is a mommy's wishful thinking. I don't believe that my growing attachment to my boy is forcing him to love home. Steve and I see a palpable release of tension when Benjamin gets into his house. Each time we're out and about he's "happy" and "fun." But when he gets home he turns into a hilarious, laugh machine who revels in freedom, flexibility, and fun. He breathes easier, visibly, and a smile returns that wasn't there before ... Ben knows his house, and we pray he keeps LOVING it, humble as it is.

We are so blessed that you're a part of our life, buddy ... more blessed than you'll ever know (or as my mom would add ... "until you have kids of your own.")

[caption id="attachment_1151" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Kayleigh Elaine, November: 2010"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1152" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Benjamin Steven, May: 2011"][/caption]