This is a video of Stump who, at fifteen months, has figured out that if you swipe at the iPad enough, something will happen. I’m not sure how he managed to play this song by Phoenix, but apparently he likes it.
There’s something about Stump that I’ve been meaning to tell you. When I was pregnant, I thought he’d be one of those babies who might sit in a corner and play with a toy tractor for half an hour. I thought he might be uncomplicated, simple even, slow. He would live in the shadow of his older brother who is thin as a rail and smart as a whip, but we’d love him for being the easy one in a family full of strong personalities.
Do you hear that? It’s the gods. They are still laughing.
When Stump was about eight months old, as he was just beginning to acquire mobility, I asked my partner to dress him one morning. I had just finished changing his diaper and I was sick of wrestling him, trying to get him to hold still as he arched his back and bucked. Kellie had been out of town for a few weeks, and she wasn’t ready for these new tactics. “Oh my god,” she called out. “It’s like dressing a bobcat!”
Now that Stump is fifteen months, it’s like living with a bobcat. He is 100% wild. He throws his food. He poops in the bath. When he’s tired, or when he doesn’t want you to leave, he’ll scratch at your face. If you put him down when he wants to be held, he’ll channel all his feline strength and arch his back, daring you to drop him on the floor.
This morning he was standing on the kitchen chair doing squats and shouting maniacally. I said to Smoke, who was quietly finishing his Lego project “Are you watching this?” Smoke nodded. “He won’t do that when he’s older,” he reassured me. I hadn’t been seeking reassurance, but I appreciated it all the same.
Though Stump is wild, I don’t mean to suggest that he’s only a brute. I’ve never met another baby who so fully understands what it means to hug. “Hug your bunny,” I tell him in the morning, and he holds it to his chest and rocks it back and forth. Pick this bobcat up, and he wraps his arms around you, leans his head against your shoulder, taking you in.
But my point is this: he’s not the easy one. In a family of characters, he competes. At the end of the day, I often look back and wonder how I made it to bedtime. He climbed on the table at least two dozen times; there is food on the floor; my neck is scratched. But he is cute, and also he dances.