Well, we had a major breakthrough this afternoon. I actually got to vacuum without Matthew turning himself inside out in hysterics. Major, MAJOR turning point! I knew from experience that his terrified fear of the vacuum would only last so long, but it was driving me crazy all the same - and every time I vacuumed, I'd have him on my hip while trying to vacuum under beds and around tables and chairs. Not fun. So today is a baby-step in the right direction. He still wasn't happy, but at least this time he just ran away rather than melting down.
Which brings me to question...will there ever be a "stage-free" moment? It seems like they give up one bothersome behavior only to pick up two or three more. And it's funny, you never can quite remember exactly when they give up a bad habit - it just kind of happens and then a month or two later, you're like "hey...he doesn't do THAT anymore". Take Jonathan for instance. For a long time, he refused to walk up the steps by himself. He HAD been doing it fine, but I guess after Matthew was born, he saw me carry Matthew up, and then he started refusing to go up without assistance. Most of the time, I couldn't carry him - I had Matthew, my purse, the diaper bag, maybe some grocery bags or four.... So then he started needing to hold my hand up the steps. This went on for months! Then all of the sudden, just today, I realized that he hadn't needed "help" for a good while now - probably at least a month or two. Here I never thought the day would come, but indeed, it did come, and I never even noticed.
So I know Matthew will think up something else to make up for finally accepting the vacuum. It's just the way they are, I guess!