These are heady times for Kid Charisma, because he's become aware that his brother TwoBert is no longer a passive little poop factory. The wee one is learning to interact. He likes to regale his parents with spine-tingling Tales From the Womb, which he often punctuates by raising his eyebrows and yelping. He laughs a lot, between the teething fits and the torrents of drool. He likes to sit facing me on my lap and work my thumbs like one of those hulking Matrix shoot-em-up robots.
TwoBert is now a threat, an Eve to his Margo.
Apart from the occasional vituperative outburst, however, Robert seldom acts out on this anxiety. Rather, he's learned to sublimate it by obsessing about "worker guys":
- He rips through reams of printer paper drawing "blueprints."
- He piles up all loose toy parts within an arm's radius and calls them "materials."
- He 's lost interest in Sesame Street and Clifford, in favor of This Old House and The New Yankee Workshop.
- And Bob the Builder, whom he has fetishized. (More on this later.)
And because construction sites must be be roped off, the little autocrat will fashion anything into some sort of barricade and urge us not to breach the perimeter, lest we risk terrible bodily harm. This is his way of staying in control, of drawing a line in the eroding sand of his authority. He must tell the world that even though his home may have been invaded by a bald, driveling stumblebum who can't even sit up by himself, this is still his domain, and he is still its master.
No such barricade is complete without "caution tape," which can be fashioned from pretty much anything: belts, binder's twine, kitchen garbage bags, clothing. One day I left him alone with a roll of Scotch tape while I washed the dishes, and 10 minutes later he'd overwhelmed the living room with a gigantic spider web that could have mummified a sheep.
Enter the in-laws, who came to town knowing that all the deflected attention of TwoBert's baptism would bend Robert's nose out of joint. So they brought him some "caution tape," which was actually just two rolls of old software stickers. Robert was ecstatic, because here was 100 feet of fencing that could be stuck anywhere, to anything. And my wife and I smiled, because Robert was happy, and we really don't have much regard for our furniture, anyway.
So that's how we're rolling during the dog days, people. The little one likes being walked around to soothe his teething pain, the big one strives to block us at every step, and nasty things keep pouring out of the cat. It is truly the American dream, writ large-ish.