Friday, May 25, 2007


Here's where we were a year ago, give or take a week:

And now she's walking and running (well, more of a gallop most of the time, but we're working on that), climbing and crawling, learning to do somersaults and (occasionally) walking on the balance beam with no extra support in her tumbling class. She still always wants to walk up stairs leading with the same leg, but will switch to the other leg if I ask her to, and she doesn't have to drag herself up with her arms anymore when she does it. She's even gone up by alternating legs for a few steps, which just looks so grownup it makes me ache.

When I asked her what today was, she said "Gym Day! See Penelope! And Sybil! No Matt - Matt's at Work. Daddy's at work, far away. .... parachute!" She's been singing the words she can remember to every song she's ever heard in one continuous mishmash loop (Barney is a dinosaur hmhmhmhmhmhmh Abc's and 123's and hmhmhmhmhFriend! hmhmhmh DO DAH! DO DAH! hmhmhmhmhm 5 miles long hmhmhm DO DAH! DO DAH! )and holding five-minute (somewhat one-sided) conversations with my mother on the telephone, turning to me out of nowhere and announcing "The chairs are upside-down" when the carpet cleaners had upended the chairs on top of the dining room table, spraying milk all over the expensive chair in our living room and smiling, saying "I'm sorry Mommy, spitting makes a BIIIIG mess!" in the happiest voice imaginable.

She sees the childproofing gate closed in the kitchen doorway and says "gate closed means stay out" and goes to play with her pretend kitchen in the dining room, where she cooks me a pot of beans and a chocolate ice cream cone and makes me fill her teapot with pretend water about 15 times in a row. She sees me painting the deck and says "Mommy colors on the wall?"

When asked what she wants for dinner, she will always, always reply either "grilled cheese" or "mac and cheese," so you'd better find a way to describe whatever you're serving as one of those two. Rice-a-roni? Just like mac and cheese, only pointier. Pita bread with hummous and feta? Special grilled cheese. Chicken soup? Granted special dispensation because it was the only "real" food we gave her during the stomach flu debacle a few months ago, and she was so grateful that now it's apparently ambrosial.

Also granted special dispensation - tofu and edamame, the boiled soybeans served as an appetizer in Japanese restaurants. She likes tofu so much that I have to order her bowl of miso soup with extra tofu - lots of extra tofu - just to keep her busy until the edamame arrive. The kid can blow through 2/3 of a serving of edamame (or "beans" as she calls them) in less time than it takes to write this, squeezing the pods so hard that they squirt across the table and occasionally across the room. She loves playing with chopsticks, and she thought it was just awesome when I was feeding her pieces of pickled ginger from my "sticks" earlier this week. She grabbed her pair and managed to actually fork some of the shredded cabbage plate decoration into her mouth, so pleased with her accidental success that she ate three or four mouthfuls before she realized what she was doing.

She has stopped demanding juice first thing in the morning, and instead drags all four (five? six?) members of the posse down to the kitchen and demands to show them her plants (the vegetable seedlings we planted earlier this week, which are sprouting in pots on the windowsill). At bedtime she tells me when she's too tired to read the usual number of books or sing the regular songs ... "Mommy, COVERS!" "No Amazing Grace ... night night, Mommy! Kiss bunny! Kiss Bob! Kiss Mingo! Kiss ... sheep? Sheep! Kiss Kitty! Kiss Pink Duck! Kiss Zebra! Kiss Mingo again! Sweet dreams!"

She sits through books with actual plots and, thank the lord, paragraphs, such as The Poky Little Puppy and The Story of Ferdinand. Henny Penny is a favorite this week, and I tickle her stomach to cue her to say the line "the sky is falling " in an increasingly silly voice. When her Pooh song book ran out of batteries in the middle of getting ready for bed tonight, she didn't throw a fit, just said okay when I told her we would buy more batteries tomorrow. If asked, she will "read" me one of the storybooks Jason brought home from Italy, which says things like "she is yellow, like the sun."

She loves the "numbers" Jason's mom got her for her birthday - a set of foam letters and numbers that you can stick to the wall of the tub. We started her out with just the numbers, but now that she knows all of those (and even counted to 15 one time), we give her a handful of letters each night to play with in the shower. She sticks them to the wall, mostly in the wrong direction, then lovingly adjusts them when I tell her what's wrong. At the end of the shower she has to line them up on the wall to make a word, all of the letters touching in a strange arc across the tile, all consonants with an occasional 1 or 7 thrown in for good measure. She loves to watch me write, spelling out the names of people we know on the AquaDoodle and pointing out each of the letters as I draw them. She holds her AquaDoodle pen as if she had been writing all her life, at least when she isn't squeezing it as hard as she can to make it leak dots of water all over the mat.

She has to ring the doorbell before she will go through the front door (thanks a lot, Jason). She rang it with the storm door shut the other day, and I told her it was just a little ring because of the door being closed. When I opened the door, she rang again and said "Now it's a BIIIIG ring!" Going to the mailbox is the daily after-nap ritual, and boy, is she ticked if we didn't get anything. The endless parade of school buses, mail trucks, delivery trucks, tree trimming trucks, garbage trucks, and cars of notable colors that pass our house are all commented on and apparently require confirmation - "yes, that is the garbage truck."

Whenever our car turns in to our development when we return from a trip, she announces "The New House!" Today when we went for a bicycle ride and I came into the development a different way, she leaned forward in her seat and started poking me in the back, yelling "Missed New House! Missed House!"

She loves my old Fisher-Price doctor kit, complete with funky-smelling oral thermometer and a blood pressure cuff with a dial that spins when you squeeze the bulb. I get examined thoroughly at least twice a day, including checks for reflexes on my boobs and eyeballs, and an oral exam that involves her attempting to ram the pretend otoscope down my throat. Oh, and shots, too, lots of shots, some of which she also gives to herself (how unsanitary!).

She calls the white skull-and-crossbones charms I put on her crocs, "crabs." When in doubt, any bird is a blue jay, a woodpecker, or a sea gull. Or a duck, of course.

It's just so weird that she's finally turning into a kid, someone with whom I can hold a conversation without having to feed her lines, someone who listens when I tell her things and picks them up right away. Tell her one day that this is your wrist, this is your elbow, this is your shoulder, and later that week she's liable to tell you she wants her sticker on her wrist, not her shirt.

She's busy all the time - I can definitely see why the Montessori folks call the various learning play activities "works," because she's serious about figuring this stuff out. I kept her busy for over an hour yesterday by handing her a garden hose and some different size buckets and cups ... she didn't need any guidance from me beyond moving the hose to a new spot on the lawn every 15 minutes or so to keep her from drowning, she just experimented with how to pour water from the hose into the containers, how to pour from one container to the other, what happens if I hold the hose over my head, holy crap that water is cold, oh look my feet are sinking into the lawn and I can make big muddy splashes if I jump up and down, etc.

I told her today that we were starting a new system, and if she could make it through a whole day without spitting (her new favorite pasttime), I'd give her a temporary tattoo. She sat there and listened to my whole explanation, looking at me the whole time, and examined the tattoos closely. We'll see if she can pull it off tomorrow, but at least for that moment, I'm pretty sure she understood the bargain.

Yes, it's been a good week, and yes, she still acts like a 2-year-old, turning selectively deaf when she doesn't feel like doing what I ask her to do, occasionally throwing herself on the floor and flailing to indicate her displeasure at the turn of events. But she's also gotten smart enough that if I come up with a reasonable explanation, she turns off the tantrum like a faucet and moves on, which is a refreshing change from the round-the-clock screamfests from her early months.

The kid who used to scream if anyone other than me even looked at her is now willing to (uneasily) let the waitress lift her into the high chair or the bus driver lift her up the stairs on the bus. When strangers talk to her she still does the "turn away and pretend I'm not here" thing, but she's smiling when she does it, and I think she does it more because she knows it's cute than because she's really shy. She actually answered two of the waitress' questions at dinner the other night. Instances of whiny cries of "mooooommmmmmmyyyyyyyy" while grabbing the lower half of my body and attempting to climb up my front have decreased markedly in the last month, as have night wakings and nights and naps where it's impossible to get her to sleep.

There are still plenty of moments (and days) when I could cheerfully wring her neck, but the rest of the time I'm glad she's around. Gives me an excuse to watch the first 15 minutes of Finding Nemo over and over again, if nothing else :)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Kids can be fun. And I still like Ferdinand despite having it memorized. It is useful to be able to quote the great works of literature whenever you are at a dinner party.