This month has been a very busy one. In the midst of everything—at Christmas parties and other events—Robert has been saying that Marcus is “two and a quarter,” and I’ve been saying “almost two and a half.” It’s all in how you look at it, obviously.
We had parent-teacher conferences at daycare this week—here are excerpts from Marcus’s (excellent) report:
“[Marcus] is able to do many things on his own, including getting dressed to go outside and unpacking and repacking his lunch. . . . He is able to follow multiple-step directions when they are part of a routine. . . .He is very persistent when problem-solving in play with materials, and he is able to develop solutions on his own and with support. . . . He is able to verbalize his wants and needs effectively and has recently begun asking ‘why’ questions. He listens to others’ ideas and adds his own ideas in conversation. . . . Marcus identifies the letter ‘M’ as ‘Marcus’ consistently. Marcus can draw lines and circles and he draws with his right hand. . . . Marcus can walk backward and forward, run, tip-toe, and pedal a tricycle.”
I love imagining the daycare putting all the kids through their paces and checking off things from a list! Of course that’s not how it works, but it’s a funny image. The teacher also said that Marcus listens really well, not like your typical two-year-old, who just tries to say her/his own thing in a conversation; no, Marcus listens intently to what is going on, and really pays attention to and then responds to what other people say.
We took Marcus to see Santa at Magic Beans, but he slept through the whole thing--which was probably good, because we also tried to bring him to a Santa in the Bahamas and he sort of flipped out. We also trimmed a small live tree at home--Marcus got very into telling me where to put each ornament: "red one up there! Right there!" he'd say.
This was a month of parties: First we went to Tim’s 29 11/12ths birthday party at an Indian restaurant in Central Square, then Sarah’s annual Chanukah party, then a second birthday party for Parker at the Children's Museum, and finally a huge, fabulous Christmas party at the house of one of Marcus’s friends from school (Declan).
Marcus this month begs for “green one rice” for an after-school snack (warm rice with Korean-style seaweed on the side, that he then makes little sandwiches out of on his own). “Marcus do—no help Mommy!” He can demolish a huge amount of seaweed and rice this way, and usually still manages to have dinner with us a few hours later. Although he’s not particularly picky, at dinner, meat and peas and more rice are usually his favorites—when I made “unstuffed” cabbage recently, though, he ate everything, including the cabbage and onions and tomatoes in it.
He continues to make jokes, a fact especially noted by the teachers during his conference. I’d say the hit of this month was the “Four Purple Bikes” joke—we were looking for purple bikes on the bus on the way to school, and he suddenly said he found one. “I find it! One purple bike! I see it, look, Mommy!” When I looked, I said, “Marcus, that’s not a purple bike, that’s a yellow bike!” and he grinned and said, “Look, Mommy, I see it—TWO purple bikes!” Each time he upped the ante, grinning like crazy, going all the way up to FOUR PURPLE BIKES (we are by far the most enthusiastic—er, and loudest—people on the school shuttle bus every morning and afternoon, in case you couldn’t guess), each time cackling triumphantly at his cleverness. When you ask him how old he is, he answers you accurately and humorously: "I TWO! I not THREE!" Marcus loves playing the "guess which hand" game when someone else hides something--a toy car, an M&M, or even nothing--in a hand. He'll go back and forth for a good long time alternating hands every time. Robert is distressed by this strategy, of course. Sometimes, Marcus likes to switch things up and be the one who hides something. At those times, he puts the thing in one hand, balls both up into fists, and then asks us which hand, pointing--as he does so--to the one that is "it," saying "THIS hand!"
He says "God bless you!" when someone (even himself) sneezes, he loudly informs us that "Two minutes up!" if we say we'll do something in two minutes, and he asks for songs by name: “Umbrella song, Mommy,” or “Daddy monkey jump bed,” or “Mommy sing round round bus.” He turns exclamations into verbs when need be: “Marcus hi Garrison,” to tell us he’s going to say hi to a friend, or “No Mommy boo Marcus!” if he’s all done playing an I-scare-you-then-you-scare-me game. He’s developed a love for Spiderman, who he still calls “fire engine man,” and carries around a thank-you note a friend sent us that has Spiderman on the front, kissing it and holding it close. He says long sentences, sometimes genuinely helpful ones: “Why Daddy no throw away dirty diaper?” (when Robert forgot and left the dirty diaper on the edge of the changing table. And he recently spoke about something that happened, and that he remember from, before he could really talk—that was really neat, actually: we were at the Indian restaurant in Cambridge and there was a statue of an elephant, a typical standing elephant pose. “Marcus, do you remember when we saw the elephants this summer in India?” I asked, making conversation. He nodded solemnly. “Elephant lying down, then go stand up. Elephant shower—all wet!” Very cool—both that he remembers this from May, and that he was able to tell me a story about it (accurately) without any priming or modeling of the language for it on my part.
The highlight of this month was our four-day trip to the Bahamas, to the over-the-top Atlantis resort. Robert and I have long liked taking a trip somewhere warm right before Christmas (though Robert points out that nothing can top the time I tricked him into thinking we were visiting my parents and took him to Las Vegas as a surprise instead), and a lot of people had told us this particular place was on the order of magnitude of Disney, and absolutely great for kids. So the morning after the Northfield Christmas party, we hopped on a plane and landed in Nassau for three nights and four days.
Even though we had to transfer through Atlanta (Delta didn’t have any direct flights from Boston), we had a nice trip down: two great flights, with a happy boy who sat in his own seat. We got a Chick-Fil-A sandwich in Atlanta, and a smoothie to help Robert’s cold. Marcus napped on the second plane, and when we got in we took a shuttle to the hotel on Paradise Island with a crazy, funny driver (“Down here in the Bahamas, we drive on the right side of the road,” he announced). We checked in and walked around the hotel grounds since all the pools and beaches had closed at 5:00, and we got into our room in the Beach Tower (the cheapest, and most inconveniently located, but otherwise not bad at all, and with a nice comfy king-sized bed) around 4:30. Marcus really liked looking at the big aquarium in the basement of the Royal Towers as well as all the small aquarium-like pools around the grounds—some with sharks, some with turtles, some with rays, etc. Every time we walked past a fountain or pool—which was often—a little voice would pipe up and say, “More water!” very informatively.
Since we were hungry and up for a little excursion, we took a taxi cab ($15) which happened to be a stretch limo, of the kind I haven’t ridden in since prom, to Arawak Cay, or Fish Fry, where we ate at Twin Brothers II—a non-alcoholic Miami Vice (half strawberry, half pina colada) daquiri, conch fritters, the fried conch dinner, and the broiled conch dinner. All were excellent. Marcus loved the virgin daquiri (“I-freem!” he said gleefully, diving in), and ate a fair amount of conch fritter and fried conch too, all dipped in ketchup. I thought the broiled conch—roasted in foil with sweet potatoes and plantains—was delicious, but everything was fresh and good, and the service was memorably abysmal, though not unfriendly. Still, Robert had to walk into the kitchen to get a spoon at one point. We had a nice chat with a Canadian family sitting near us—this area definitely attracted a fair amount of tourists who wanted to “eat local,” I think—about their precocious twelve-year-old boy and how to get into Harvard (and whether he would even want to), and while we chatted Marcus got sleepy and asked to go up on my back, so I put him up and swayed a little and he was happy to chill out while we talked for a long time.
After dinner we walked around a little bit after, checking out Sky Juice stands (coconut water, milk, and gin) and seeing a bonfire for heating up the drums for the big Christmas music performance, the bleachers for which were already lining the main street of Nassau. After a cab ride back to the hotel (a giant van this time), we made it an early night with our sleepy boy.
I was not a fan of the taste of the tap water, though, either in the restaurant or in our hotel—it tasted and smelled quite a bit of chlorine, though I eventually discovered that by using 2 parts ice to 1 part water and 2 parts psychological tricks (don’t think about the taste don’t think about the taste) I was able to make it palatable—not good, mind you, but drinkable.
During this trip, Marcus started saying, “Um. . .” and pausing to think when you ask him a question. It’s pretty darn cute—ah, thoughtful baby. He also started saying “Yes!” which completely threw both Robert and me for a loop the first time we heard it—he’s said “No” for well over a year, and he’s nodded for “Yes” for awhile, but all of a sudden the actual word popped up.
On Friday we got an early start, only to discover that the pools and beaches didn’t open until 10:00, despite what all the signs said. Robert blames me for actually reading signs and believing them—he always says those are antiquated strategies of mine. In any case, we ate cereal and fruit and then went to the Splashers kids’ pool, where Marcus had a ball playing with all the different water features. The pools are heated, and in the sun the air temperature was very nice—maybe a bit cool if the sun went behind a cloud or you suddenly emerged from the pool or water, but very nice weather just the same. Robert somehow talked me into going on the not-lazy (“Crazy”) river ride while he and Marcus played, since I was such a fan of the lazy river back at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas years and years ago—this managed to be frustrating, then boring, then unpleasant, then terrifying all in one ride, and I even opted out before the rapids began. Robert rode the whole thing after and said, “Wow, you really wouldn’t have liked that!” Uh, right.
We went to Mosaic for lunch—it was a very nice buffet, but overpriced, though I did get to have conch salad (essentially ceviche) and some very nice shrimp. Marcus fell asleep immediately after lunch, so we walked over to the beach and I obeyed the “sleep when the baby sleeps” mantra while Robert went on all the different water slides. We spent the rest of the afternoon building elaborate sand castles, checked out the free movies in the resort theatre, did a little bit of the kids’ arts-and-crafts, and then after a shower decided to try Potter’s Cay for dinner.
Potter’s Cay is just over the inbound bridge into Nassau, a bunch of shacks actually built around and under the bridge itself, and from our hotel was a shorter—though more convoluted—walk than to the far beach at the other end of the resort (10 minutes vs. 15-20, I’d say). The food and atmosphere were even better than at Arawak Cay, and there were essentially no tourists (the next night we did see another couple, but that was it) at all here. We walked up and down, getting samples of conch fritter’s from Tall Boy’s and trying to get conch salad at Skinny’s—which a bunch of people sitting there said was the best around, but which was sold out—and then, on the recommendation of a woman with another two-year-old there, settling on Danny’s for grilled seafood, lobster, conch, and fish mixed together, served with plantains and rice. It took forever for the dish to come, but we were happy sitting at these little ramshackle picnic tables listening to very loud Islands music and drinking another virgin daquiri. Danny’s was hopping with the after-work crowd, and everyone was very friendly to us.
On Saturday we went to the Marketplace restaurant for breakfast (sadly, no conch), in part just to fill up time before the pools opened. The buffet was nice but a bit overpriced, so Robert tanked up for the day. Our table was near a back door which had been propped open to the patio, and Marcus kept walking over to the door, peering down t the floor, and saying, "Look! Ants!" It seemed totally plausible that some ants had indeed wandered in from outside, and I had no reason to doubt him. A little while later he picked something up off the floor and handed it to me, saying, "Thank you, Mommy--here you go!" He'd been doing this all weekend with tiny, almost invisible bits of fluff or crumbs or a few grains of sand. I let him put it in my hand absent-mindedly, not really looking down until he pointed at what he'd just given me and said proudly, "Ants!" Now I jumped, looked down, and expected to see a struggling ant in my palm--only to see an inch-long worm, terrified and curled into a ball. Startled, I dropped the worm, and Marcus bent down: "Oh no! Ants fall down!" he said. We then had two things to work on--or maybe three: 1) Worms are not ants. We tried to convince him of this, but Marcus vehemently disagreed. 2) Worms are happier wherever they were than being picked up; Robert returned the worm to the outside doorstep on a fork. 3) You are not a cat. Please don't deliver insects and worms to Mommy.
It was a little grey and cloudy, and slightly cooler than yesterday, so we decided to go straight to the beach and work on our fort. When it suddenly started to rain, we aborted, went back to the room and washed up, and then got a quick lunch on the patio near the beach (overpriced hot dog and mediocre conch fritters) before more sand time, and then more walking around exploring the different bridges, coves, beaches, pools, and sea-life. Marcus fell asleep in the sling right before we got to an interactive turtle feeding (you got to throw them cabbage leaves and watch the turtles swim over and sort of slurp them up), followed by an interactive stingray feeding (you got to hold partial fish in your hand underwater and watch the rays swim over and sort of vacuum them up). After the nap, we tried to go to Nobu to take advantage of a free appetizer (and a not-free new-style conch sashimi that sounded intriguing), but the elements conspired against us: Marcus was a little hyper, the restaurant was on the edge of an alluring casino, and people kept walking by with pizza boxes, tantalizing our baby. Who knew that casinos were so appealing to two-year-olds? All that blinking and beeping—he kind of went nuts! In any case, we went over to the marina and got Marcus an overpriced slice of pizza, and then walked over the bridge again to Potter’s Cay in a light drizzle. Everyone was saying how anomalous this weather was: it hadn’t rained that much in a single day in six months, and it hadn’t been “that cold” for multiple years.
Saturday night, possibly because of the rain—which actually got heavier and heavier the whole time we were at dinner—Potter’s Cay was not as happening a place, though the food was still delicious. We got conch salad from Skinny’s, one of the very first stalls on your right as you come over the bridge; he had been closed, but opened back up for us, and we got two full conches in our $10 bowl, together with lemon juice, lime juice, orange juice, green bell peppers, onion, tomato, and “lots of love.” “His conch salad so good,” a man at the booth told us, “because he only care about three things in life: conch salad, liquor, and making babies!” I might have shown a little surprise at the last thing on that list; Robert leaned in and told me that last night, while he was away from me ordering the conch at another booth, he’d “gotten that comment a lot.” “What?” I asked, confused. Apparently that’s what people say conch is good for—who knew?
We got another virgin daquiri and then the fried mixed seafood plate—snapper, wahoo, lobster, and conch—from Danny’s, and ate it in what was now absolutely pouring rain. We had to move our table in to keep the rain from splashing on our plates, and Marcus gave up and climbed back into the (damp) wrap, refusing to even poke his head back out. A friendly drunk guy who had been talking to Robert at the bar stand under the bridge came over and asked if we wanted a taxi. We kind of did, now that the rain was so strong, but weren’t sure how we could ever get one where we were. Drunk guy assured us that he’d be right back with his “friend” who had a taxi and could take us to our hotel. We shrugged, and finished our dinner and then briefly contemplated waiting for the guy to come back before we started making our way down the string of stalls (most of which were dark now, because one of the generators had gone out). We had just gone two stalls back when a car started honking at us, and it was indeed a taxi with both a driver and our drunk friend in it. Our friend drove around with us while the taxi made a necessary but circuitous loop around all the one-way streets to get to the outbound side of the bridge, and then Robert handed him a dollar and he hopped out.
“Did you know him?” Robert asked the cabbie once he’d left.
“I never seen him before in my life!” the cabbie said, explaining that he’d been off-duty, eating dinner inside a restaurant two blocks from the far end of Potter’s Cay, when our drunk friend had burst into the restaurant. “He say, ‘I see a taxi out there, who driving the taxi?’ I don’t want to say me but I do, I say, ‘What wrong with the taxi?’ and he say, ‘Nothing wrong with the taxi, I need a taxi!’ I say, ‘You need a taxi?’ He say, ‘No, man, there’s these people, a man and woman and a little baby, they got a little baby getting all wet, they need a taxi man, you gotta come!’ I thought something happened, and he telling everybody there about the little baby, I had to come out!” He paused, thoughtful for a second. “You know, man, he on drugs but he a good person—not many people do what he did, go walking three blocks in that rain, go track me down like that. Not many people do that for you!”
He dropped us off at the hotel for $12, which was probably more than it should have cost, but we were perfectly happy to pay it, and after a diaper change we installed ourselves on a comfy bench in a downstairs lobby of the hotel. Robert’s thought was that maybe Marcus would nurse and then fall asleep and we could pop him into the wrap and then go back to Nobu for a seafood nightcap, but baby had other plans. He did nurse, for a very long time—so long, in fact, that a female security guard about thirty feet down the room looked at me curiously and jiggled a breast at me, with an inquisitive look. I nodded. Yep, that’s what I’m doing, I pantomimed back. She walked over with a huge smile on her face and launched into a long, detailed story about having just weaned her three-year-old son; about how much he loved the breast; about how she put all sorts of things on her nipple to make it taste bad; about how great breastfeeding is, keeps them quiet, makes them calm, but she just had to stop, because after three years she wasn’t getting any peace—he was always at her breast. She talked very fast, and there were definitely some details we missed (“So she tried to poison him?” Robert asked), but it was a great conversation. Marcus nursed throughout the whole chat, and then leapt up, full of energy, and started playing with a toy car around the lobby. Robert sighed, and decided Nobu was not happening tonight, so we headed upstairs to our room and to bed.
Even though we wouldn’t let him play those exciting slot machines, Marcus had a great time gambling this trip: he started elevator-wagering every time we went up to or down from our room, betting on which elevator out of three would arrive first after he (expertly) pushed the button. He had strong instincts, and didn’t often change his mind: “This one,” he’d say, pointing, “not that one!” He was always surprised if his chosen elevator didn’t arrive, getting in then and saying, “This one? Not that one?” as though in total shock that he’d been wrong.
On Sunday, after a lovely eleven-hour sleep, with a 2-pm-checkout arranged by Robert, we ate cereal and fruit near the pool for breakfast and then went straight to the beach and built an even more elaborate fort than before—multiple stories, multiple rooms, holes, tunnels, moats, towers, and several chambers where we dug down to water. The tide was not cooperating and was going out, but we persevered—we are not like some lazy parents who don’t get in up to their elbows! We are hard workers, after all! I swam a little in the water—very calm, bay-like, and a lovely temperature—but Robert didn’t even stick a toe in today, afraid of the cold.
Midday we went back to the Splashers pool for more fun. Marcus loved watching the “big bucket up top dump out all water—Marcus get all wet!” We had also, at some point (I think when it was drizzling the other day) said that Daddy was not all wet, but was just “a little” wet; that resulted in Marcus saying, “Marcus get a BIG wet!”
We said goodbye to the pools and went upstairs to shower and finish packing, then managed to run over to the marina to grab a hot dog for Marcus to eat on the shuttle bus to the airport. He took a nap, we checked in for our flight, and then played a little bit before heading back. Two more excellent flights, the final one with baby curled up in his seat next to me for the entire flight, seatbelt on, and head on my lap while Robert and I did a crossword puzzle. It was a fabulous weekend
Marcus continues to be cuddly and kissy and huggy, an excellent traveler (as you can see, his Trunki suitcase made a huge hit this weekend) and great sleeper and independent play-er, and we’re sure we’ll all have a great Christmas together next week: He's already eager to go back to NY to see Grandma, Pop-pop, and "Ann Manny."
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Created: 12/15/10. Last Modified: 12/20/10.