American in Spain

State of the Offspring Address - April 2013

April 30, 2013
Nora and Ian

As expected, we had some pretty enormous change in the state of the offspring this month. They've doubled in number!! Our son, Ian, was born as healthy and robust as I've ever seen a newborn. He doesn't seem too pleased, however, to be outside, and very much prefers to be pressed up against his mother as he is accustomed. The little bugger has an absolutely voracious appetite, often draining both his mother's breasts and still wanting more, which we supplement with formula. Sleeping Ian

It seems hard to believe, but Ian's eyes are considerably lighter than Nora's were at this age; hers were so dark you couldn't make out the border between the pupil and the iris, but Ian's are quite light. His hair, though dark against his white scalp, definitely looks blond. We're all looking forward to seeing him turn from a baby into a little boy.

I remarked a few years ago on some social network that we were entering the infamous "terrible twos", and a friend of mine – I think it was my coworker, Alan – told me, "If you think two is bad, just wait until four!" Now that we're here in Fourville, I have to agree. Nora is considerably more disobedient and generally contrary at age four. Her current obsession is playing with trash, a paper she finds on the street, or a candy wrapper from four days ago. When we tell her to throw it (or anything, at this point) away, she insists, "No, I'm going to play with it!"

Ian Snoozing

I think the reason she's getting under my skin a bit more is that she seems so independent and reasonable so often, practically an adult, but emotionally she's still a little child. She can get dressed all by herself, but she doesn't want to because she wants the loving attention that being dressed by someone gives. Similarly for eating by herself; she can, but she often won't. I think my wife has correctly predicted that as attentions move to her baby brother, she will show a marked regression in her independence. I don't feel too bad about it, though, because when I take her to and from school, I observe her peers also being little disobedient jerks with their parents.

Little Baby

It seems kind of hard to believe, particularly to my American mind, but next month, Nora is going to go spend three days and two nights at a camp, called Albergue Paradiso, with the rest of her class. Somehow, her teachers – just the teachers, no parents! – are going to control 25 three and four year olds for over 50 hours, many of whom still wear diapers at night (like Nora) and have never been away from their parents for more than seven hours. They do it every year, and apparently every year the kids come back telling their parents that they had the best time ever. Every year the school year has a theme that stretches from Carnival to this field trip. This year it's The Circus, so Nora is constantly talking about clowns, trapeze artists and tightrope walkers. We'll see how it goes!

It seems to be a fairly common practice for parents to buy presents for their kids "from the baby" upon a new family arrival. We tried to do so, but Nora saw right through it, saying, "If I'm too little to go buy things at the store, I don\'t think Ian could." That's my girl!

This month, on the day Ian was born, actually, Nora lost one of her lifetime classmates, Denise, of kicking infamy, who had gone to daycare with Nora since well before either of them could walk or talk. Denise and her family have moved to Panama. My wife and I are more than a bit jealous of their financially safe move to warmer climes. Recently Nora has been putting quantities on innumerable ideas, such as "I'm eleven hungry!" or "I love you eighteen!" Just in the past week, she's graduated to using distances, e.g. "I love you to the ceiling", "… to the sky!", "… to the moon!", "… to where grandma and grandpa live!" Last night, she told me, "Daddy, I love you… to Panama!" Too cute.

Nora and Ian

So far Nora has been doing very well with her sisterhood. She's very careful and loving around her baby brother, and seems pretty understanding when her mother's attention is diverted, probably because she, too, gets the negative reinforcement of her brother shutting up. As babies go, so far Ian has been an absolute delight, diligently turning milk into diaper fodder, and generally being adorable.

The state of the offspring has never been stronger. I'm very much looking forward to our future.

Nora and Ian