Since today is Parker’s birthday (and since Suki asked), today’s post is all about Parker. This is my substitute for a baby book and will serve as my memory in years to come, but we hope you’ll enjoy it too.
Today is National Chocolate Ice Cream, and it’s also Parker’s first birthday. Please don’t think I’m a bad mom because I put the ice cream first. After all, it’s chocolate. Wait, I meant to say that I was going from least important to most. That’s what I meant.
We can’t believe it’s only been a year since we met Parker. He’s such a personable little guy, he makes everyone feel like his best friend. I mean that quite literally. I can’t count the number of people who have told me, “I think I’m his favorite person!”
He’s quite popular everywhere we go, and it’s not just because he’s a baby. He’s also a shameless flirt. I often catch him scanning the crowds, trying to catch someone’s eye. It’s always a girl or woman, and when she looks his way he flashes his brightest, sweetest smile.
My sister told me his smile looks like when Squints smiles at Wendy Peffercorn in the movie Sandlot, and I can’t deny it. In the store, in the parking lot, in the fast food restaurant (who? me?)…every time I take him out I hear the ladies around us giggle and whisper. “Look – he smiled at me! He likes me! Did you see him? He’s so cute!” It’s like being Justin Bieber’s mom.
At large gatherings of people we know, he’s passed around so much I have to hunt him down for feedings. “Ladies,” he tells them in a svelte voice. “There’s plenty of me to go around.” At a recent wedding I asked Mother Hen’s hubby if he knew where Parker was and he replied, “Oh, he’s off body-surfing the crowd somewhere.” That’s my little rock star baby.
He is a very pleasant guy, always ready with a smile, but it’s unbelievably hard to make him laugh out loud. The only reliable way to get even a chuckle is to eat his ribs. A backup method that sometimes gets good results is to help him punch and kick his brother.
Nothing pleases him more than to understand and be understood, and he loves to be in the middle of everything. As a tenth child, he can sleep through anything but silence, and he gets nervous and clingy when not surrounded by a crowd of loving family and friends.
At first glance many people think that Perry Boy takes after his dad, but in reality he looks like his dad now. He looks nothing like his dad did as a little boy. Instead, Parker is the spitting image of his dad at this age. From what I’ve heard, the personalities of our two boys work the same way. Parker is friendly but quiet and laid back like his dad was as a little guy. Perry is gregarious, fun and just a little bit crazy like his dad is now. 🙂
As of his first birthday, Parker is not crawling and it seems safe to assume he won’t until he’s old enough to do it in play. His primary mode of transportation is the butt-scoot just like his older brother did. It’s just as fast as crawling and even more efficient since it can leave one hand free if he wants to carry something with him. It’s not completely hands-free like Bethany’s mode of transportation was, but it works for him.
He cruises around the furniture with ease, and loves to cling to our legs and tug at our skirts. Elastic waistbands, beware!
He can stand unsupported for a few seconds at a time, and his sisters are convinced that he could walk if he just tried hard enough. He objects vociferously when they try to force him to take steps on his own, but I’m sure he’ll be walking very soon.
I seem to remember that a baby has an average of 20 words on his/her first birthday. Some of our children have hit the average, while others were far more verbal. Deanna regularly used over 150 words by her first birthday. She was my first, so I have the actual list.
Parker is bright and observant, but I don’t think his list of words is up to 20 yet. His people skills outweigh his verbal skills, which is fine. We enjoy his charm. He tries to say many of his siblings’ names, but here are the words he uses unprompted:
- mama or mom (he uses both)
- dada or dad
- boo (when he wants to nurse)
- guys (our term for siblings, as in “Where are your guys?” I think it’s a north-western thing left over from my first 13 years in Oregon.)
- thirsty (he learned to say this very soon after he learned the sign)
I love to teach my babies sign language, and Parker has quickly picked up a few of the most useful signs when I remember to introduce them and uses them with enthusiasm.
If we count sign language he’s much closer to 20 words, and he’s very good now at making his wishes known, something he thoroughly appreciates.
- poop (our made-up sign resembles the letter P and he added some appropriate sound effects)
- thank you (just beginning to get this one)
- weight: 21 lbs.
- height: 28.5″
- teeth: 7 (4 on top, 3 on bottom)
- shoe size: 3
- clothing size: 6-9 mos
I loved and used blanket training for some of my older children back when I didn’t have so many helpers. Now Parker has eyes on him everywhere he goes, nearly every minute of the day so he has learned his boundaries differently.
He knows that there’s one cabinet he is allowed to play in – the one that holds all the plastic bowls, containers, lids, etc. – and he knows not to eat the dog food or play in the dog water. Well, at least in theory.
He understands and obeys when we tell him no, and he even tells himself no (in sign language) if we catch him where he shouldn’t be, doing what he shouldn’t do. Then he smiles disarmingly (“See?” his eyes say. “We agree!”) and scoots away. Oh, he’s a charmer, he is. This houseful of women is in trouble.
Parker has just begun reliably sleeping through the night. This is utterly unheard of in our household. Rachael occasionally woke up during the night after the age of 6 months, but all the others have slept 7-9 solid hours starting somewhere between 6 weeks and 4 months.
I think at least two factors have contributed to this:
- I’m getting soft in my old age. One of my basic principles for teaching a baby to sleep through the night is to let them work up to a real cry before I get them out of bed. This doesn’t mean I let them cry it out, but it does mean I don’t pick up a baby who is just fussing and might easily fall back to sleep. In Parker’s case, he fussed and fussed and fussed…never a real cry, but just enough to keep me awake for a long, long time. I don’t know if I would do it differently now, but after a while I just started getting him up as soon as the fussing began.
- He’s always been a scrawny guy. Several of my babies have been very wiry and were very good sleepers, but when a baby is on the small side we all want to play it safe. If he woke up during the night and said he was hungry, I didn’t make him work to convince me. I took him at his word much more readily than I would a chunkier baby.
Now he’s eating a lot more solid food, and while he still looks more like a spider monkey than a chunky monkey, he has begun sleeping for longer stretches.
His name is Parker Cromwell, named after my dad Stephen Parker Brown who passed away just over 2 months ago at the age of 58. We’re big on nicknames and I can’t begin to list all of his.
His most commonly used nicknames include Pickle (from Bethany’s pronunciation of Parker), Buddy, and Doodle, which he has nearly outgrown. I’ve also called him Milkman, Monkey Boy, Booby Boy, and Poop Monster when it suits the occasion.
He loves to play the keyboard, ride his brother’s pedal car, play in the plastics cupboard, watch movies with his guys, share earbuds with his sisters, read books with or without a narrator.
Our huge 11yo cat, who should be old and cranky by now, is strangely tolerant of his attentions.
He loves to be outside and is fascinated by wind, trees, the moon and all the other wonders of creation. And he loves me. I think I’m his favorite person!