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alex has left the lump stage. for any who've not yet had the pleasure of living with small children, the lump stage can be defined by the three CCC's; crying, crapping and caterwauling in the night. for the most part these three behaviors represent the full extent of their meager abilities.

when i leave for work in the morning i say goodbye to bella and alex. for the last few months while holding alex, i've been asking him if he has kisses for me. this has always prompted him to turn his head and lean his face towards me where i place a gentle smooch on his crib-warm cheek. his manner has always reminded me of some royal who looks away as he holds a ring-bearing hand out to an admirer as if he can't endure viewing the vapid and expected gesture.

last week when asked my question, alex leaned towards me head-on with pursed lips and this time i instinctively offered him my cheek where he softly pressed a kiss, complete with exaggerated smacking noise. marty and i celebrated because this is certainly the kind of cognitive act which marks the end of the lump-phase.

in my absence marty fervently worked to get a like kiss from little man, because in the unspoken battles of parental one-upmanship, especially in matters of affection from your children, i had just lapped her, twice, and walt is quite unaccustomed to being lapped in any form of contest. about a week after the initial smack, marty succeeded in coaxing a kiss from her second child. only this time, after she asked alex if he had any kisses for her he set down the blocks he was banging, raised an arm placing the fingers of this hand under her chin and pulled her mouth to his and painted her one full on the lips. he then released her and went about his block colliding.

that evening when marty shared this happening with me, i imagined what alex would have said after this exchange could he speak: damn woman, maybe this will shut you up for five minutes!

in his behalf, marty is still floating in accomplishment. also in his behalf, at not even two years of age, he has far smoother moves than his father could ever claim.

JAN2005

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