Taming Twins: Late March 2013

The boys are nearing their second birthday and they are doing all of those things that two year olds do. Zachary is starting to speak really well. He’s saying multiple-word sentences and will repeat almost anything that you say, including his latest “Holy Mackerel” (thanks Mumma). Zach likes to say goodnight each evening to the pets individually, saying “Night-night Sonny. Night-night Cher. Night-night Hannah. Night-night Holly” as he climbs the stairs.  He loves reading books, looking at the pictures, and pointing out what is what on the page. He’s already very fond of the Calliou books that we have and loves to point out Calliou, Grandma, Daddy, Mommy, Rosie (“woosie”), and Gilbert.

Adam still babbles quite a bit of Twin Talk® but repeats some of the things we say. In general his words are not as clear as his brother’s and he doesn’t repeat as many phrases, but he is continuing to add new words and phrases to his repertoire. It is really hard to balance letting each of the boys grow at their own rate and in their own way while also looking out for warning signs that they are behind. As has been the case since they were born, Zach is more advanced in terms of language, reading, and identification while Adam is more advanced in terms of patterns, puzzles, and understanding how things work. Adam is still working on his speech and I think Zach’s verbal abilities are starting to rub off – he says good night to the pets along with his brother each night.

Speaking of Adam’s abilities, he has been very very interested in chores lately, wanting to help us vacuum, load the dishwasher, do laundry, and clean the floors. He is also very interested in the way things work and enjoys taking things apart. I left one of my recent Mac Museum additions, a Newton Messagepad PDA, on my desk and it took Adam only a minute or so to learn how to get the stylus out. You have to push on the tip of the stylus to activate a spring release that pops it out a bit before you can take it out completely. Adam figured this out completely on his own without ever seeing me do it. He knows its a pen too, because he demands my pad of sticky notes so that he can write with it, which isn’t so bad since it doesn’t have any ink in it.

Both of the boys are really into making noises. Zach has been howling and squealing a lot recently, often times for no reason. He also has a deep growl that he likes to bring out on occasion. He loves driving his cars, trucks, and tractors across the floor while making noises for them and does the same in his self-propelled Jeep when the weather is nice outside. Adam likes to make the sound of the vacuum cleaner and has an adorable impression of the garbage disposal. When we get the boys up in the morning, they usually join us in making a “psssshhhhtt” sound to get Cher to leave the room.

In my last update I mentioned that Adam was seeing a specialist in Manchester for his constipation issues. Well we saw, we talked, and we replanned. According to the GI specialist, he isn’t constipated, he’s just exercising his ability to control his bowels. This is apparently common in toddlers, especially ones with a milk allergy, and usually starts after an unsatisfying experience with a harder-than-normal bowel movement. The fix is to keep him on Miralax until he outgrows it. Simple, right? Well that wasn’t enough for us so we’ve been trying to encourage him to go by putting him on the potty once a day to get him used to it and speaking in a positive way about going number 2.

We were going to continue to give him a daily dose of Miralax for the indefinite future while trying to adjust the dose so that it did not cause blow outs. That was until I found a bunch of horrifying information about the drug this weekend. It has apparently been linked to autistic behavior such as ticks, slurred speech, and slowed cognitive development. Reading a bit more into it I found out that it is Polyethylene Glycol, which is not supposed to be absorbed by the body but tends to be absorbed at about a 4% rate in an adult. We are giving the same dose to a much smaller person who may have other gut problems that increase the absorption rate. It has never been tested in children and the FDA actually put it on a watch list last year.

After reading all of that info I decided that I didn’t want to risk it and made the decision to discontinue it immediately starting Monday this week. We are going to try to use a combination of high-fiber foods, juice, and flax seed to see if we can get the same result. I’m sure some of the stuff that I read was overreaction, but enough of the logic makes sense in my mind that I don’t want to be exposing him to it if I can avoid it. Just search for “Miralax autism” and you will find a lot of info. He didn’t have any Monday or Tuesday morning and was pretty much up all night each night with issues. They weren’t directly attributable to his pooping issues (gas, straining), but could have been a withdrawal reaction. We’ll see how the rest of the week goes. We have their two year appointment coming up so we can discuss our findings with our Pediatrician.

When we aren’t dealing with Adam’s bowel issues, we are the parents of two very active two year olds. The terrible twos are in full swing, particularly in Zachary. Recently he has found it very amusing to snatch things out of Adam’s hands and run away to a corner to smirk about it. Adam does not respond very well and usually erupts into tears while his brother gleefully watches. It’s an interesting turn of events because that’s pretty much what Adam did to Zach when they were babies, just without the smirking. I don’t think he understood what he was doing at the time; Zach does, and he enjoys it.

Disciplining Zach when he does these things is an interesting task. If we ask him to come to us he doesn’t listen. If we take away the item and give it back to Adam, he gets angry. If we put him in time out, he erupts into a full-on scream-laden emotional explosion. There is kicking, screaming, running, slamming, throwing, grunting, hanging on legs, withholding breath, slapping, you name it – he does it. And it’s not just time out. It’s any time Zach doesn’t get what he wants. Sally recently had to wrestle his pajamas on while he kicked and slapped her. It’s crazy. Adam does it too, but he is more of a constant whiner than an explosive tantrumer. Occasionally they both get into tantrums at the same time and every time the one who is the least wound up will stop completely to stare at the other tantrum in progress. It’s as if they are saying “Whoa dude, what’s your problem?”

Listening in general is becoming a frequent topic of conversation at our house as neither of our children want to do anything unless they want to do it. For a while we let it go because they were young and still exploring their environment. Plus, they didn’t really understand. Now it’s starting to get annoying when you are about to leave for the morning and they won’t stop touching the dogs or taking the shoes out of the shoe rack and throwing them all over the floor. It’s even getting dangerous. We have to be extra careful with outlets because Adam likes to unplug and replug cords regardless of how much we tell him its dangerous and that he cannot do it. For the longest time we’ve been teaching the boys that our propane stove and their electric oil heater are hot – now they are testing their boundaries by touching them (luckily when they aren’t that hot). Adam was bitten in the face by Holly because he would not listen when we told him not to bother her. Luckily in that situation she only scratched him. And yes, we move her out of the way frequently but it can be hard to keep up with him because he’ll just run right to where we put her to bother her again.

It’s all about learning, testing boundaries, and discovering personalities right now and it can certainly be challenging but the highs seem to be higher than they were before. There is nothing better than watching them play chase with each other, give each other toys, help out Mommy and Daddy, say “hi” and “buh-bye” to people, jibber jabber, say “I love you”, or wake up in the morning. They do so many great things and have such distinct interests and personalities. It’s just fun to watch. We’re busy, we’re tired, but it’s good for us. It keeps us young, gets us outside, and keeps us playing. And there’s so much more of that to come.

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