Well friends it’s that time again. An update on the little monster. He is now clocking in at about 2.5 feet tall (it’s just funny to say that) and … whatever he weighs … and he’s a big 20 month old. At this point I think people are staring at me a little confused when I say his age, as though they’re saying, ‘wait … what’s that mean?’ Maybe after 18 months you’re supposed to just say ‘a little over a year and a half’ until it’s ‘almost two.’ Come on, people. It’s math. Just do it.
I mentioned to my wife the other day that I thought my lists of fun ‘new’ stuff or noteworthy things has seemed to ebb and flow in recent months. One month the list will have twenty things, the next month just ten. Things are apparently happening in more of a spurt fashion these days. And this month was a packed one. LOTS of fun new language stuff for the most part, but also some physical things, too.
Let’s split it up into language, physical, and other.
My wife and I have been pretty good about reading to the kiddo and it is helping with language I think. The kiddo loves looking at a few magazines we have (my wife gets some psychology related ones due to her work) so we will look at the pictures and ask him to point stuff out. Lately I have been trying to get him to point to a picture and I say what it is … but that isn’t too predictable. Anyway, it is so fun to have him name things. I am generally a chatterbox when I am doing something with him, narrating or naming things like the world’s least interesting documentary. It’s been like this since he was born. And now, all the sudden, I say, ‘can you point to the pen?’ and boom, he points to a pen a lady is holding in a picture. HE KNOWS PEN! It’s just crazy because I have no concept for what he does and does not know and now I finally get a little insight into his knowledge.
Beyond being able to identify things he is also trying a LOT more with language now. The other night I said a bunch of friend’s names to see if he could say them all and he tried, one after one, to say each name. It was adorable and impressive. Two words that are especially cute and enjoyable to hear are yes (almost a yesh) and turtle. Although the poor kiddo has picked up on old mom and dad’s habit of yeah instead of yes, and yeah is unquestionably much less cute to hear.
He’s also doing a lot more random babbling with words mixed in. He picked up my phone and said, ‘hello? buzza buzza buja ba? ja ba?’ Or … something. It’s some impression of a native English speaker that he’s doing. It’s a pretty bad impression, but getting better day by day.
Outside of words he had a sudden uptick in sign language, too. ‘More’ was suddenly used for more than just asking for more food … it is also showing up at the playground. I would be pushing him on the swing when he’d sign to me, and say, ‘more? more?’ Buddy. I’m already pushing. You don’t need to ask for more.
One funny thing that he has been doing for a while is nodding yes which seems to also cover good? I hope at least. ‘How was school?’ Nods yes. ‘Did you sleep well?’ Nods yes. The yes nod sure can be an answer for a lot more things than I had ever been using it for. Maybe it’s time I up my communication game at work.
One fantastic and delightful new language thing is singing! I was singing frere jacques one day to him (or at least the first two lines, because that’s all I know) and then HE started SINGING IT BACK! He really has the jacques part down but the rest is sort of babble, but it’s all to the tune. ‘Bah rah jacques bah du da da jacques.’ Actually as I was writing that I’m realizing he throws in jacques a lot … but he’s got the beat of the first line mastered.
Last but not least on the language side of things was some education for dear old dad. You see, I learned this past month that I say ‘aw nuts’ a lot. How do I know this? Because my son now says ‘aw nuts’ a lot. I looked in the fridge for some milk and didn’t spot any so I said, ‘aw nuts’ and my son, in my arms at that moment, repeated it. I thought, ‘that’s funny … I’ll have to try to get him to do that for [my wife].’ Well, try not, friendo, it is readily available. Walking up to a grocery store I forgot something and said, ‘aw nuts’ and so in the three of us marched, the kiddo chanting, ‘aw nuts! aw nuts! aw nuts!’ all the while. And one morning this past week the little guy woke up a little early, sat in bed jabbering to himself, which included several minutes of yelling, ‘AW NUTS! AW NUTS! AW NUTS!’ Little pitchers indeed have big ears.
Now on to the Olivia Newton-John segment.
A very sweet new M.O. for reading books is the kiddo climbing into your lap. A less sweet, more demanding side to this is that if I am laying flat on the ground he will walk up by my head, grab my shirt and pull upwards while saying either ‘up’ or ‘move’ over and over. He isn’t satisfied til I am sitting where he has a lap to sit on, and then we may begin the ‘boop’ which is the new word for book (I swear he said that word more correctly two or three months ago).
A less ideal habit the little monster had for a while (we came up with a good solution) was really enjoying getting any box or container out of the food pantry and wandering while shoving his dirty little hands deep inside to fish out a few snacks. This was bad for a few reasons but boy was the dog a fan. My wife had the bright realization that he just enjoyed being able to fish his own snacks out. So we took to buying those little boxes of raisins or little goldfish packages, and we’ve since graduated onto some reusable snack cups that are kid friendly. It’s the munchkin snack catcher, and I’d recommend it.
Another big and exciting step forward is with drinking. The kiddo now occasionally drinks out of a ‘grown up’ cup all by himself. This usually ends up in a fairly wet dog below, and a soaked shirt, but hey – progress! The day I get to stop cleaning those annoying little sippy cups with all their little parts will be a happy day.
Lately we have had a great post-work routine going which involves the Mrs. and I getting home and taking a walk (sometimes my wife goes for a jog) and hitting the nearby park. I decided it was imperative the kiddo had a dump truck (because I am a little child and will buy him toys that I too want) so the dump truck and rocks or sand have been pretty consistent companions since the day that truck was purchased. I am currently saying ‘excavator’ or ‘digger’ a lot to really push my wife to say ‘hey I went ahead and bought an excavator toy to go with the dump truck.’ (We spoil him with toys, and I bought the dump truck so … I’m going to let my wife make the next purchase there since how can I complain about us spoiling him when I’m 50% of the problem?)
One day recently I noticed something very sweet with the kiddo. There’s an area near us with some good little incline/decline walking (which is great exercise and walking practice for the fella). I had squatted down taking a video of the little guy exploring and enjoying the day when he stuck his right arm up clear in the air as though raising his hand to ask a question … I realized, ‘oh, he wants me to pop my finger in there to hold his hand.’ After a few seconds of walking like that he stopped and looked around to find me. I thought oh geez, this kid is clearly spoiled. He is so used to raising a hand and my hand appearing in his almost instantaneously. I told my mom about how this kid gets too much constant hovering attention from me and she reframed it as he gets to feel very secure. Phew, good save mom. But … yeah … he is showered with attention.
Now onto the other portion.
This one could qualify as a physical I suppose but I think of it more as a mental jump that is pretty fun. Normally I do daycare drop-off and my wife does the pickup. One day I was doing pickup but instead of coming over to me he looked up, saw me, stood up and walked over to his cubby. I stared, surprised, because normally he’s excited to see me but that day he seemed indifferent. But wait! He was just one step ahead of me! He grabbed a mitten, his jacket, and then immediately sat down and started trying to put his jacket on (he can’t actually do that yet). It was amazing! Go kiddo! He knew the routine and wanted to get a jump on it. One of the daycare folks also said he will often go and sit by the door around the time my wife arrives and start to say ‘mama’ a bunch. Smart fella.
Thinking back to the mimic stuff with language of all sorts … that also extends to behavior, too. One day the kiddo and I were at Target and I was looking for something specific for him. I was holding him and walking along patting different clothes, or pointing to them, saying ‘nope … nope … nope.’ The kiddo started squirming so I set him on the ground only to see him continue the routine … walking around the clothing, patting it, and saying ‘nope! nope! nope!’ Oh my funny little circus house mirror.
Lately the kiddo is fulfilling ‘stereotypical little boy practice #2704a – a LOVE of trucks.’ He and I went and parked by something so I could take some pictures of him and let him roam (it is a pretty spot). It also happens to be near a big road which proved to be the real winner that day. He stood and stared at the road for a little bit, taking it all in, before he stood up and decided to make it interactive. Around that time a few 18 wheeler trucks and maybe some construction vehicles drove by because he started going NUTS! Waving frantically, trying to greet all these vehicles, standing and dancing with joy (this funny sort of shaking dance he does), blowing kisses … just overwhelmed with delight at all these cars. It was hysterical.
Ok. Now from stereotypical little boy stuff to some thoughts on that.
We have a really nice neighborhood park and some nights there’s a flag football team that practices there. The boys all look like 3rd graders (or so?) and I imagine they all live near here which makes the team incredibly convenient for the parents. Watching some of the boys it makes me think of myself at that age. Not as in I would’ve been on that team, but as in those would’ve been the boys I made fun of quietly with my friends, while they made fun of my friends and me out loud, in front of everyone. The age old nerd vs jock. This made sense … but it also surprised me a little. Part of me feels like there is more awareness of how awful bullies are and the impact of them, and there are more ‘new age’ kinds of parents who let their boys play with ‘girl toys’ and things like that. But boy, watching these kids interact it reminds me that while there may be more awareness, knowledge and execution using said knowledge are two different things. The coach is especially representative of the type of guy I would like to see disappear. He makes fun of the boys to ‘motivate’ them. Asks who let a girl on the team, that kind of stupidity. And the boys themselves are quick to pick up on machismo … walking up to practice ‘adjusting’ themselves. Boy. Please. What do you have to adjust, child? It just strikes me as a bunch of boys pretending to be men who never got stable or comfortable enough with themselves to be anything but a series of stereotypical cliches.
On that note, we bought a pink shopping cart for the kiddo (full of fun foods to shop for). Why the hell is grocery shopping pink? Boys don’t grocery shop?
Anywho, our little fella will hopefully embrace and be comfortable with a much less rigid look at what it is to be male vs female. Because, frankly, it’s pretty easy to be a stereotypical male, and I’d like him to do better than that.