Thursday, August 27, 2009

To Speck at 18 months

playing with plastic turtles on the Acela trainWell, this summer has been a busy one and initiated you as a Real Traveler: you went for a long weekend to Mom & Dad's college reunion (by car), to visit Grandma and Grandpa for 5 days on Cape Cod (by train), and for a week to Glasgow for an old pal's wedding (by plane) and were a trooper on all fronts. You weren't too taken with your travel bed/tent initially -- picture Mom and Dad sitting outside their hotel room listening to you scream for an hour and regretting having come out without their shoes (thus being denied the opportunity to take turns getting a beer downstairs) -- but after you had a little time to get used to it for a few naps at home, it became an old friend and a refuge in strange places. Throw in the beloved stacking buckets and a few familiar books, and you could tell we when were officially in a New Home Base and start making it your own. Our trips were, of course, studded with visits to Assorted Playgrounds and other recreations, but in return you were a good sport about spending long stretches exploring reunion tents, city squares, art fairs, and even a sizeable museum with minimal complaint, and you took the shifts of routine in pretty good stride. By the end of the longer trips, you tended to become a little clingy and wanted to keep your flock in sight at all times, but otherwise you were pretty open to novelty.

On more usual developmental fronts, you've expanded your initial steps to a confident brisk walk, with particular interest in pushing your boundaries with irregular surfaces, small curbs, and ramps and bridges of all kinds. Now we often bring you along to the playground or store on foot (although it can be nice to have a stroller available in case you wear yourself out, if for no other reason than that your parents can't always carry you all the way home without collapsing themselves). So far you're very careful to stay on the sidewalk (even when that curb looks enticing) and to offer a hand for crossing streets, so we feel ok about letting you roam with us in the city -- if you become a racer later on, that could change. You even cooperate in avoiding puddles and mud, trusting that we'll give you other opportunities (in more appropriate clothes) to do some serious puddle-stomping for the joy of it -- both our street and the zoo have great stretches for that.

big mouthYou still haven't launched your major production of speech. The old favorites Hi and Mama/Dada (often combined for dramatic effect: Ma ma ma... da DAT!) have been joined by EIEIO (closer to YiYi but clearly recognizable as a call for a round of Old MacDonald), uh-oh, a sarcastic teen-type Da-ad, and "gee!" which appears to be "seeds!" (used for a variety of Very Funny Things of the sort for which You Had To Be There). You also shake your head and nod, and use signs for finished, hot, and broken. All enough to satisfy the pediatrician; your parents fully expect that you'll wait a while yet (judging from your facility with nonverbal communication, and your relative lack of experimentation with sounds) and then probably come forth with a rush of language all at once when you decide it's time. Should be fun to watch!

Firsts in the last few months:
  • First kisses. You first kissed Golden Bear, then your parents, in Scotland, and then you got a bit more cagey about it. However, you often kiss your stuffed pals when you haven't seen them in a while, and you sometimes have your toys kiss one another. Meantime, most of us have to make do with your blowing a kiss on your way up to bed.
  • You learned to play hide-and-seek, also in Scotland, due in part to the prime geography of our rental apartment. Somehow the way that you and your dad mutually developed this game seemed to involve your just naturally picking a "home base" to which you would return while your victim hid again (and then called out repeatedly while you searched), which amazes me. It was also a big hit on Cape Cod, where your grandparents' house is largely on one floor; sadly, our own house is mostly vertical in design, which means we won't get much of this game at home.beach2 = sand and bucket
  • You visited your first beach. After some initial caution (including a long stretch of standing in one place while adapting to the strange movement of sand under one's feet), you got into the scene wholeheartedly, running back and forth between the dry sand and the waves (to coat and wash your hands) and shoveling sand back into the sea. Will have to do more of this!
  • You became a musical tyrant, not just learning to recognize your Mother Goose Rocks CD, but insisting that it be played over and over (and to the exclusion of all other music)! Amusingly, you have developed dances and games for many of the tracks, turning about for the Hokey Pokey, playing knick-knack on our shoes and door, dancing your fingers for Where Is Thumbkin, etc. This attachment also means that having the beloved CD on my computer (or a round of Old MacDonald in the car) offers a way to calm some storms in unfamiliar places, which is good. Of course, having these tunes constantly in our heads can be a pain, but I always have pesky tunes in my head, so hard to complain much.
On other fronts, lessee... you apparently grow your teeth in bunches, having waited another couple of months before launching 5-6 at once, to some distress. Beyond toyful kisses, you have a sort of empathetic response to many toys and books, from offering Golden Bear a drink to trying to comfort Curious George in a story by helping him look for a missing bunny; you've also started moving little animals around in elaborate games accompanied by narrative (if wordless) sounds. You've learned the idea of blowing -- whether to cool foods, inflate an air mattress, or produce bubbles -- but do so ineffectually, with an incredibly endearing sort of goldfish-mouth motion. You eat mostly recognizeable foods, including a bowl of cereal at breakfast (although eaten manually) and a couple of acceptable Indian dishes (briyani and korma); we have no pretenses, however, of getting our act together for dinner in time to include you, so we also stock various versions of pasta, some much-loved spinach patties, and Mom's special pumpkin muffins. You have adopted O as your pet letter, and will point it out at almost any opportunity, on signs, in books, on plates in the ground; you sometimes notice other letters, but O is your touchstone for contact with the written word. Finally, the hot weather has brought some visits to playgrounds with various kinds of water sprayers, and even though you sometimes grimace or hold your arms over your head, you have definitely decided that you love getting wet. We now have special water shoes (for sprinklers and puddle-stomping) as well as a UV-protective swimsuit, so you're pretty much ready for anything!


What none of these externalities capture is how much the last few months have made you into a more companionable presence. Not only can you tell us a bit about what you need or want ("are you hungry?"), but you create games to play with us, show enthusiasm for going places, and frequently snuggle up or give us a hug. I know that language will really propell that sensation forward, but already it feels a bit more like we have a fun little person in the household. Can't wait for the next round!

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