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Munchkin in the wild

A friend, writing about his kids recently, noted that while his older child is beginning to take on the look of a real human, his toddler remained a clingy, oversized doll. The latter is an apt description for Munchkin, who is beginning to push the boundaries of his self-sufficiency but remains overly attached to S.

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Munchkin’s recent progress report noted his heightened desire for independence, and we see it at home on a daily basis. He insists on feeding Emmie, carefully carrying her bowl to the closet, filling it with dog food, and gingerly walking it back to its spot. He picks out his own clothes, frequently demanding several clothing changes a day for no other reason than that he feels like wearing certain shirts. He washes his hands by himself, sometimes getting up multiple times during each meal to run to the bathroom to clean himself.

And he is adamant that he “put off” his own clothes: shoes sometimes, pants mostly, and his trusikis (underwear) always. He has figured out zippers, though he doesn’t bother with them when pulling down his pants; clasps, buttons, and buckles, however, will likely continue to pose a problem for many more months to come. He still hasn’t figured out how to take his t-shirts off, which may be the only reason he is at least partially clothed most of the time. Much like S when she was his age, Munchkin prefers to be unencumbered by clothing as much as possible.

Hand-in-hand with his recently mastered ability to undress quickly came a push for greater privacy and bathroom independence. He now prefers to stand over his potty to relieve himself and he is very proud to be able to empty out the potty by himself afterwards. He also has developed an overwhelming preference for peeing outdoors, a tendency that has led to some comical situations. D came home one day, for example, to find S and Munchkin bouncing on the trampoline. No sooner did S turn her head to say hello than Munchkin dropped trou; we only narrowly got him out of the trampoline in time to avoid a mess.

The problem for us is not only that his self-sufficiency is still limited, but also that he sometimes comes up with whacky ideas. For a couple of days last week, he insisted on dumping his potty out onto the lawn instead of in the toilet, always spilling a bit on the way as he ran with it through the house if we didn’t intercept him in time. He also tries to use the big toilet sometimes. He is obviously too short to reach, so he tries to arc his pee in, with no success whatsoever.

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And then there is his aforementioned preference for going au naturel, which was on full display at Lake Bunyoni, hordes of other visitors be damned. “Papa, I have to piss-piss on the glass,” he’d say and run off. (“Glass” instead of “grass” in keeping with his East African accent.) “No, don’t help me,” he’d scream as D would follow. Of course, pulling one’s pants down is a lot easier than putting them back on, and Munchkin has yet to learn the latter. So each episode – and there were many – would either end with him trundling around with his pants around his ankles, or with him screaming for the help he had just been adamant in spurning.

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