Leo is Three. Oh!

Leo, oh Leo. How do I explain this one? I think this entry is going to get messy and require a lot of patience to write and read.  It fits.

As soon as Leo sits down for breakfast Rocco announces, “You can’t have any Chocolate Cheerios because I ate them all.”

Leo cries and cries.  Angry crying directed right at Rocco; hurt crying directed at me; unjust crying directed at the world.  Cries and cries and cries.  I tell him he is ruining breakfast for al of us so  “either to to your room to cry it out or stop crying and eat breakfast with us.”  He manages to stop.  He starts to take a bite of cereal then notices some wet spots on the table and gets mad—really mad—that they’re there.  “Get it off, Mom.  Get it OFF!”

I don’t even make him say “please” this time.  We’ve been through enough.  I just get a cloth and clean them up.

The wet spots?  His own tears.

That’s life with Leo.

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(This is the only way he would eat for awhile.)

Leo will take a car straight from Rocco’s hands and when you tell him not to take toys from Brother, he’ll insist, “I’m not taking!  I’m sharing!”

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(Here he is “crotch-hoarding” about 10 of Rocco’s Hot Wheels.  They’re under there.)

Leo wears on everybody’s patience but his mama’s. He is the Eddie Haskel of my sons, all sugar and spice when I’m near and then just a pissant when I’m not. I’ll hear Rocco screaming from downstairs and if I go down soon enough, I’ll see that Leo has not only smashed his marble set down but is also laying on it, making swimming motions and singing to himself.

If I don’t go down soon enough I’ll come down later to see Rocco crying beside a smashed marble set, saying, “Why? Why?” and Leo happily playing with a different toy beside him, all, “I don’t know what’s wrong with brudder, Mom, but looks like he needs a hug.”

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(“Finally,” Rocco is thinking, “a car that Leo can’t crotch hoard!”)

To me, though, Leo is a doll. I have to admit, my doll isn’t cuddly like it used to be. It’s more like a pull-string toy that repeats one of five phrases throughout the day, like, “Wakey wakey hands off snakey!” (We totally should not have taught him that, by the way.) Or “What day is it?” Or, “I love you Mom,” only he says it in the same voice he used to say, “I’m Zombie Rasta,” so it’s a little creepy. Instead of spontaneously crawling into my lap for hugs like he used to, I have to pretend to be a hug machine that sends Leo through a cycle like a washing machine does, then gets imbalanced on the spin cycle and does all sorts of crazy things. But still, a hug is a hug is a hug.

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I don’t know what Leo likes. It might be stuffed animals; it might be trains; it might be board games or Hot Wheels or Skylanders. Maybe it’s none of those. He makes his toy choices based on what his brothers are playing with because toys are so much more fun when plucked straight from the hands of a screaming brother.

I do know he loves books—any books, all books, every chance he gets books. I think he even loves books more than Vincenzo, and if you have ever met Vincenzo then you know that is a crazy statement to make.

But not books with monsters. He does not like those.

Actually, he likes to read those, too. He’ll pick out a book like Where the Wild Things Are for bedtime, but then he skips all the pages that have monsters on them. It reads like this: “The night Max wore his wolf suit and…[flip flip flip flip flip flip flip flip] The End.”

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Leo is a One-Man Band. He is a self-entertaining unit who is never short on ideas of what to do, though many of those ideas are a little sketchy. He’ll leave dinner early, singing and jumping, and when we look over after a few minutes he’ll have disassembled the couch and created a Wipeout style course for himself and he is standing shakily on the arm of the couch. He yells, “ONE TWO FREE GO!” and jumps off.

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Or he’ll come screaming through a room with a helium balloon that he wrestles to the ground then sits on, lays on, attempts to jump on, trying to pop it. He is, in fact, the only one of my boys who laughs when his balloon pops. Earlier this year he got a balloon animal from a balloon artist and immediately put it on the ground and stomped it to smithereens laughing wildly the whole time.

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Oh Leo.  He eats too much junk food. He calls blankets “blanklets.” He always loves dogs except anytime he’s near one. He talks in either a high-pitched mouse voice or a post-apocalyptic devil’s voice. He sleeps with 50 stuffed animals, then wakes up and throws them all down the stairs. He screams at Rocco whenever they are close but misses him whenever they are not. He wants me to sing him anudder song. He runs on ballerina tiptoes.  He shouts his joy to the world then screams his anger to the world then comes to his mama because he doesn’t know what to do with these big emotions, but he knows his mama will.

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How do I wrap this up? I want to bring it back to Leo being all sweet, for making up for his Joker-like tendencies with acts of huge generosity and kindness, but he’s not there yet. He has instead perfected the mischievous-eyed smile that challenges you to discipline him because, you know, he is your baby after all and he will always be your baby, so how ‘bout another round of Hug Machine instead?

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Set the dial to “heavy duty,” people. This is not a delicate load coming through.

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WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Fresh pasta with meatballs
Salad
Molten lava cakes

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