He’s been called Sweet Baby Leo. He was born so quiet and calm, so sweet and observant, so easy-going, so full of Zen. He would sit in his car seat for hours while we went to dinner or waited through brothers’ sports practices. He would fall asleep whenever, wherever, for however long we wanted him to. He almost never cried. If he ever did start crying, all he needed to calm down was a hug or a little song. He’s been my real-life baby doll.
When I held him that first week of his life and he rested with all his soul on my chest, I breathed in his newness and I whispered to Kevin, “What if he stays sweet like this? What if he is just quiet and calm and good-natured?” Kevin shook his head at me and said, “He won’t. He will turn on us like his brothers did before him.”
And, as happens from time to time, Kevin was right. Leo has turned. Up until a week ago he was still Baby Leo. Baby Doll. Angel Baby.
But this week? This week he is Screamer Dragon. Baby No-No. Greaser. Scarface. And those are the nice ones we’re calling him. Leo has dropped 99 words from his vocabulary and is now only communicating to us through screaming and the word “no,” usually in combination.
I spent a couple minutes in the bathroom on Sunday and when I emerged I saw the aftermath of a baby plus a bottle of massage oil. It was all over the carpets, all over the couch, all over the hardwood floors. I went to pick Leo up and he slipped right through my hands to the ground. That’s where Greaser came from.
On Monday we were walking in the woods and it was rough, bumpy terrain so I helpfully offered my hand to Leo. He nearly bit it off, he was so offended, so I let him walk unassisted. Of course, he fell, and hence Scarface was born.
(That one was a bit scary, as he was just one millimeter off from being known possibly for the rest of his life as Pirate Leo.)
Last night he drank half a bathtub of water out of this, despite a whole set of construct-a-straws floating around the tub:
(Yes, that is a nasal aspirator more commonly used for sucking snot out of your child’s nose.)
He took the pen off a cap and then shoved the pen up each of his nostrils and rubbed it around a bit in each one. I am kicking myself for not taking a picture.
Up until this week Leo would wake up in the mornings and pitifully, weakly call, “Mooom…Moooom…” until I came in. Now he wakes up and yells my name with such rage I feel like I should be calling a priest to go in there, not me. “MAHM!! MAHM!! MAHM!! MAHM!!”
I’ll hear the sound of Leo throwing toy cars at Rocco and then Rocco crying. But as soon as I come into view Leo starts to cover Rocco with kisses and looks at me like, “Oh hi, Mom. I was just kissing brother here because I lurvs him so much. I can’t imagine what he could possibly be crying about! Look at my blond hair! Lol!”
This sudden change in personality has made old Scarface a bit unpleasant to be around this week. It’s made me wonder if maybe he accidentally got switched with this evil twin version of himself we kept seeing at Rocco’s soccer games.
But despite the yelling, despite the screaming, despite the destroying and raging and throwing, the hitting, the disagreeing, and shoving, despite all the evil misdoings and devious behavior—somehow, this week, I love my Baby Leo even more than ever.
Because that first week when I held him on my chest and felt the depth and endlessness of my love for him I thought to myself how it would be impossible to love him more than I did right then. But I also knew that somehow, inexplicably, with all my heart, I would.
WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Fontina and prosciutto mac ‘n cheese
Roasted cumin cauliflower
Orange molasses spice cookies