Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Twenty-One Months

Dear Peeper:

You are twenty-one months old today. At least three or four times in the past couple of weeks a stranger has guessed your age at "two" or an acquaintance has asked me when you will turn two.

I guess you're getting kind of two-ish. But only in the best of ways. There's nothing "terrible" about you at all.

(At least not yet. Knock wood.)

Once again, though, you're giving us some excitement on the medical front, with this whole cavity thing, and the whole general-anesthesia-to-fix-them thing. We're not so happy about that, but given where we've been in the past, I guess it's really not such a big deal.

I am doing my best to make sure that your teeth get brushed well before bedtime, and that's something of an adventure. You loooove to brush, but you're not so keen on giving Mama a turn, or letting me see what's going on in there.

A while back, when I'd noticed there was something funky with your front teeth, I put on my reading glasses and told you that they were my "special tooth inspecting glasses," so now, everytime you brush, you sign "glasses" and I have to go get them and put them on.

About a week before your appointment with the dentist, you got a new book that happened to have a page showing a wide-open-mouthed hippo and a "grinning" giraffe, saying something about "Tooth check time!" so I taught you to that the sign for "hippo" is to open your mouth wiiiiide, and when you do it, I said, "Tooth check time!" and poked my finger around in your mouth a bit, in hopes of getting you prepared.

It didn't make the appointment go any more smoothly, but it sure is cute - especially when you do the open mouth with your lips tucked over your teeth in an exaggerated "OH!" and when you do it randomly, especially when you stop and look up while nursing and make the "OH!" face.

Too. Freaking. Cute.

You've also picked up that when you want one of your grown-up books (you like looking at the pictures in The Womanly Art of BreastfeedingBaby Led Weaning, Birdhouses and Legacy of the Dog.) I have to put my glasses on to read the captions, so you either sign "glasses" and tell me to get them, or you grab them on my desk and give them to me.

"Glasses" is one of the signs that we sort of showed you a time or two and then, months later, you suddenly started using. Did you remember? Did you make it up on your own?

You are still learning (and inventing) new signs, but again this month, you've added a lot more new words than signs, the most important of which is "Mommy!"

A month ago, you'd just started referring to Mommy as "Meme" and you still use that a good bit, but more and more often, it's coming out as "Mommy."

And, although some might think it would be confusing to have a "Mama" and a "Mommy," you seem to have no trouble knowing who is who. (You mix them up a lot less often than we do!)

I figure that, because you have no prior experience with "Mama" and "Mommy" referring to the same person (as in most mom/dad families) it's no more confusing than any other two similar sounding names would be, like say, Tim and Jim or Sharon and Karen.

Now that you can say both of our names, boy do you! When we're all together, you'll go back and forth, naming us, over and over.

And when Mommy's at work, we often have long conversations like this one that happened in the car yesterday:
Peeper: Mama?
Mama: Yes, baby, I'm up here driving.
Peeper: Meme?
Mama: Mommy's at work.
Peeper: Mama!
Mama: Mama's driving.
Peeper: Meme!
Mama: Mommy's at work.
Peeper: MaMA!
Mama: Mama's driving.
Peeper: MomMY!
Mama: Mommy's at work.
(repeat about a zillion times)
Mama: Now I don't know who you're talking about.
Peeper: Oh!
I guess you're experimenting with your new verbal skills, and also probably testing out your theory that I am Mama and she is Mommy, and maybe testing us to make sure we know, too.
You also "quiz" us about other things, like shapes and colors and such. When you are playing with two similar but different things, you will hold them up repeatedly for us to identify.

If I say, "Oh, that's a red block, and that's a blue block," you'll thrust the red one up in the air with a grunt, and I say "Red!" then you lower it and put up the blue one with the same grunt, and I say "Blue!" and back and forth until (I suppose) you're sure that this one is always "red" and that one is always "blue."

You'll also point to different objects or, especially, colors, for us to identify. For example, we have a rainbow-colored mat in front of the kitchen sink, and you like to point at the different colors so I can tell you what they are. You don't just go down the row though, you mix them up and sometimes do the same one twice in a row and go back and forth and all over - like you're double checking. Or trying to catch me making a mistake!

You're also starting to "sing" a few songs with us. When we do "Old McDonald," you pretty consistantly fill in the sounds for the animals that you know (our farmer has quite the farm, with everything from sheep to cats to elephants), and you've got your own little set of motions for "The Wheels on the Bus."

You love to spin around in circles, and we refer to that as "going round and round," so of course, when we do the first verse about the wheels on the bus going round and round, you get up and spin around! Then when the people go up and down, you stop your right foot very deliberately. We do not know why.

You also swish-swish-swish with the wipers pretty well, and although you don't do anything when the babies go "wah wah wah" (I would think you'd sign or say "baby" or sign "cry), when the "Mamas give 'em goody, goody, goody" you sign "milk" and then when the "Mommies say 'I love you,'" you sign "love."

You are also quite good at showing that you're happy and you know it by clapping your hands, stomping your feet, and often following random instructions that I just make up, like "pat your head" or "rub your tummy."

And speaking of babies, on the bus and otherwise, you are (usually) being really sweet with BabyJ when she's here. You still need to get goody any time that I'm giving her a bottle, and you are not above swiping her bottle or binky and "threatening" to put them in your mouth, but you also love to tickle her and pet her and hug her.

The last few times she's been here, I've put her on the floor in the boppy, and you just love that. You give her hugs and toys (only soft toys allowed!) and lay down next to her.

She's only going to be here a couple more times on a regular basis, but we'll probably still watch her on occassion and I hope that we'll manage to visit fairly often, because I think you'll really enjoy her more and more as she gets older, and she definitely loves the attention. She thinks you're the coolest.

I'm no longer pumping for her, but the brief time that I did evidently make a big impression on you. After you "asked" to play with the pump parts and expression cup enough times, I finally got one of my too-small flanges out of the basement and gave it to you.

Everytime you come across it in the toybox, you pull up your shirt and hit it against your chest. A couple of days ago, when you did this, I said, "Pump, pump, pump! Who are you pumping for?"

You looked a little confused, thought for a minute, and then said, "Baby!"

You looove your babies. Mostly the poor little naked baby that's just the right size for you, but you'll also play with any of the others that we have, and when we go to Target (or any other store, really) as soon as we're in the door, you start saying, "Baby! Baby! Baby!" until we go to the toy section and you play with all the babies.

Another of your favorite past times these days is playing outside, especially if there's water involved. We've got tomatoes, pumpkins and strawberries in "topsy-turvy" planters, and when I water them, you love to stand underneath, letting the excess rain down on you.

You also water the plants (and weeds) that you can reach, and drink out of the hose, and splash in the resulting puddles and just make a general all-around mess of yourself. And love it.

You're also now steady enough on your feet, even over rough terrain, and confident enough, to just go wandering around in the backyard on your own. Of course, we're sitting on the patio watching, and often have to intervene before you eat rocks or something, but we no longer have to carry you or hold your hand or even walk beside you.

I love watching you out there, on your little adventures. You are just so happy, and you just seem like such a big girl.

We started out saying that you had to put on shoes to go outside, and even bought a pair of watershoes for that purpose, but after letting that slide a few times, we've realized that you loooove to be out there barefooted and that either you are tougher than we are, or because you weigh so much less, the poky things don't hurt you like they hurt us.

There's no clover in the grass right now, so no bees, so we've sort of given up and just let you go barefoot.
You also take your sandals off as soon as we get in the car (damn Velcro) so we've kind of given up on shoes all around. Often, I will put your sandals on as we get out of the car to go in somewhere, but if you're not going to be walking around (like in Target or the grocery, where you're in the cart the whole time), I tend to blow it off.

The funny thing is that we've gotten no "Where are your shoes?!" comments from strangers this summer, although we got them all the time last year, when you weren't walking and didn't own shoes.

Maybe now they look at you and figure, "Oh yeah, my kids refused to wear shoes when they were twoish, too," and cut us some slack.

But, back to the garden - we've also got two watermelon and one pumpkin plant that are "yours." I bought them for a quarter a piece on clearance at Lowes - each came with a little dixie-size cup, a peat pellet and a few seeds.

They are currently in small pots up on the table, and you use your own little froggy watering can to water them every day (when I remember). When they are a little bigger, we'll put them in the ground, right by the patio, where you already dump several cans full of water everytime we turn on the hose.

We were very late getting any of these plants started, so I don't know what kind of yield we can expect, but at least you're having fun with them.

Next summer, we hope to be more on the ball, and hope to plant more veggies. I think you'll really enjoy that, and I can't wait!

Speaking of pumpkins, a few days ago, we were all hanging out in the office, when you brought me a paint brochure. (I like to pick up freebies like paint and countertop samples and booklets when we go to Lowes. They are good for talking about colors, and of course, you find them delicious. I hear that toddlers are supposed to outgrow putting everything in their mouths around 15 - 18 months, but you're showing no signs of it yet!)

You were pointing to a big pumpkin on the brochure, so I said, "Yes, that's a pumpkin. It's orange!"

You wandered back over to the toybox, rummaged around a bit, and came back, showing me a book about colors - open to the orange page, with the picture of the pumpkin.

You do things like that all the time. You are really good at making matches. It's a pretty common thing these days for you to pick up a toy in one room, toddle off into another room, and come back carrying it's mate, or another toy that's not identical, but similar - maybe another one of your "bus guys" or maybe a totally different kind of car.

Speaking of similar and different, you also help me to sort the laundry when it's time to fold and put the clothes away. You can go through a whole basket of clothes and for each item, tell me if it's Mommy's or Mama - and you're right the vast majority of the time.

For things like shirts, I guess you just know who you see wearing each one, and you know that Mommy's socks are white and Mama's are colors, and I've told you that Mommy's big-girl-panties are blue and Mama's are pink and you usually remember.

(We found some that we both like and we wear the same size, so we decided to color-code. I would've been happy to just have one big communal pile of panties, but Mommy didn't like that idea.)

Ironically, the clothes that throw you off are your own. You're always holding up some tiny little pair of shorts and saying "Mommy!" or an itty-bitty tank and declaring that it belongs to "Mama!"

I suspect it might be because you don't yet say your own name. Or maybe, you're just flattering us.

You don't say your name, but you're working on reading it! Well, sort of.

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to point out the letters on your toybox, and you picked up E right off the bat. Now, if I ask you to "show me the Es" you will point to both of them.

At first, I was wondering if you were really recognizing the letters themselves, or if you just knew that they were at both ends, but you can also "find the E" in other text.

Actually, you call all letters E - you point to any bit of text (especially signage in a store, with big letters) and shout "Eeee! Eeee!"

If it does have some actual uppercase Es in it, I'll ask "Where are the Es?" and you can show me. Otherwise, I'll point out each letter and tell you what they spell.

I'm also working on the other letters in your name (there are only two others, with repeats) and you can often show me one of them and on occasion, the other.

I'm under no delusions that you're going to be reading any time soon, but I think the fact that you recognize text when you see it and that you're interested in it is a pretty huge step.

You lump numerals in with text - the digital clocks get "Eeee!" too - and I don't know that you've got a lot of concept of numbers and counting, but you can show us one, two or five fingers.

I suspect those are just signs for abstract concepts that you don't quite grasp (there are other signs you've learned before you really knew what you were signing about) but I think it's a good start.

Your "two" is pretty sloppy, just because of the current level of your fine motor skills, but we've got three months to work on it before you're expected to use it on a regular basis.

I actually noticed yesterday, when you were signing "bunny" (which should be done with two fingers up, to signify the ears, but you do with a fairly open hand) that you stopped and were trying to put your two fingers up by themselves.

I've seen that sort of thing with lots of your signs (although I don't think I've ever actually caught you in the middle of making the correction before) - you started out with very rough approximations, and even though we've picked up your "baby talk" and now tend to sign them like you do, over time, as you've gotten more coordinated, you've cleaned them up and are now doing them correctly.

Like with "more" - instead of touching your fingertips together, you bumped your fists together, but now you're touching fingertips.

I wonder if you thought all along that you were doing it the right way? Was your brain sending the right signals to produce a nice, clean, standard sign, but your little hands were just doing the best that they could - and now their best is better? 

I wonder if it's the same way with speech?

Do you even realize that you're not pronouncing things like we do?

So, when you say "Meme!" and I say "Meme's at work," I wonder if you're thinking "Who the hell is Meme? I asked her about Mommy?"

Speaking of your words, the new ones this month are:
  • Ice (eye-ta) - At restaurants, you love to eat and play with the ice from my water.
  • Elmo (eh-mo) - Yes, my no-TV-baby, you are nuts for Elmo. You watch a couple of different Sesame Street videos (yes videos, not dvds, they are hand-me-downs from your cousins) at Eena and Papa's house. They tend to say, "Do you want to watch Elmo?" so "Elmo" refers to all Sesame Street characters. Or anything red with eyes. Or anything with big, bulging muppety-looking eyes.
  •  Popcorn (Bop!) - I only give you tiny kernel-less, non-choking hazardy bits of popped pieces.
  •  Ow (ah-oo) - This is one that you never say spontaneously, but always echo when we say it.
  •  (Santa says) Ho, ho, ho (oh oh oh) - But when I ask you "Who's that?" you say "Mama." WTF, kiddo?
  •  Egg (heh-guh) - Generally in reference to a few plastic Easter eggs, which found their way from your basket to the toybox.
  •  Hi (haa-aaa!) - Usually while waving. Sometimes while waving to us, sitting just a few feet away, for no apparent reason. Too cute.
  •  Schnauzer (shna-za) - Okay, you only said it a few times, but it was clear as day, and you thought it was hilarious when I said it, and I always look for that page in the big dog book that we bought this week. And how cute is it to say "Schnauzer" so I'm counting it.
  •  Tent (tituh) - This references a picture in one of your books. I didn't think to prompt you to say it when we looked at a real tent at Gander Mountain yesterday. Duh, Mama!
  •  Kite (khka) - The kite is on the next page, after the tent. I don't know if you've ever seen a real one, outside of a package in the store.
But better than all that is that you're now signing "I love you."
(Not the I/L/Y handsign, but just the "hug" sign for love. Your version is hitting your chest with your fists, sort of a two-handed version of how you sign "heart," appropriately enough.)

You've not done it completely spontaneously yet (although I think you did sign "thank you" to Mommy unprompted couple of days ago, when she gave you some food), but you do it when Mommy's leaving for work, and I'm saying "Bye-bye Mommy. We love you. Have a good day at work. . . . " and it is just the coolest.

Well, actually, it's kind of hard to say what's the "coolest" thing about you, because pretty much everything about you is pretty cool.

Well, maybe not the part about eating dog food and anything else you find on the floor, or about staying up later than we'd like, or about . . . well, okay, I wanted to list three things here, because that's what you do with the writing and all, but I seriously can't think of a third.

Hmmm. Wiggling and running off during diaper changes?

Eh, it's not so great, but at least we get to see your cutey booty running all over the place, so there's that.

So, yeah, like I said. Pretty much everything about you is pretty damn cool.

I know I say this every month, but every month it's more true - you are just becoming such a little person, more and more everyday.

You are saying and signing and learning and doing so many new things that I can barely keep up.

I get so excited thinking about all the things that you will be learning over the next few weeks, months, and years, and about teaching them to you and learning them with you.

We are having so much fun watching you discover your world, and yourself, and I can't wait to see what's next for you.

For us all.

We love you, Roo.

More and more every day.


1 comment:

  1. Meme is RAP. She'll be glad to know Peeper is asking for her. ;)


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