Abraham, Rachel, Soren and Liam. Our life together in Smalltown, Idaho.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Newsletter: Month 22 1/2.

You have--at long, long last--finally started calling me "Mommy." Grandma says you learned it watching "Tom and Jerry" with her one morning last week. Daddy and I stopped to pick you up after work and there you stood, at the bottom of the stairs, gazing up at me from under long lashes and saying, "Mom..mom...mommy?" I was, of course, enchanted. I ran down the stairs, scooped you up into my arms, and got you to repeat it for me a couple of times. So entranced was I, in fact, that you took advantage of the moment to snake a pair of scissors off the nearby bookshelf. "Mommy!" you said, reaching out and grabbing the scissors, while in my mind little bluebirds fluttered around your head. "Mommy!" you said, separating the blades, while while my brain's full symphonic orchestra rolled into a swelling musical phrase of joy. "Mommy!" you said, while I attempted to phonetically transcribe your unique pronunciation of the word. And then I noticed that you were holding scissors and could perhaps at any moment jab out one of your eyeballs. The phonetic dictionary snapped shut, the birds stopped twittering, the orchestra screeched to a halt. And the moment I was able to wrench the scissors out of your tight little grasp, you mutated into a flopping fish, writhed out of my hands, and began screaming and thrashing around on the floor. Grandma looked up to see if I was, indeed, extracting your toenails without anesthesia.

Soren poses in an outfit he found in Daddy's bottom dresser drawer. This was, apparently, the only non-blurry picture we've taken of him during the past six weeks.

This month you've also taken to referring to Jesus as "Ceecee" (pronounced "see-see"). Every time you see a picture of Jesus, you're quick to point out that it's Ceecee. Your father and I marvel at how quickly you little people pick up on the concept of Jesus. We imagine herds of little toddlers following him around Jerusalem, all referring to him with their own garbled little versions of his name. I'm thinking about starting up a new church and calling it "Ceecee's Place." It would be a very casual sect.

Other linguistic notes from this month:

-You learned how to say "anckoo" ("thank you") at a recent family home evening. So now you say "eese" and"anckoo." Next up, I suppose, is "erelcum."
-Many of your words are pronounced in a backwards sort of way. For example, "Truck," "duck," and "stuck" are all pronounced "Kkkuh!" Similarly, "Rock" and "Sock" are both "Kkkkah!"
-Also new in the vocab this month: "Oy" ("toy") and"O-oy" ("story"); "Beebee" ("Baby") and "Peepee" (the liquid, not the part").

Observing your language development up close has been fascinating for me. It's such a complicated process-- learning to associate objects, people, and abstract concepts with specific sounds; developing the motor skills necessary to form these sounds consistently; stringing the words together into grammatical structures. It's a miracle of the mind, and I hope you don't mind my obsessive documentation of every step you take in this process.

Another aspect of your development that has changed during the past six weeks is your playing style. You've begun spending more time focusing on individual toys, figuring out everything they can do and experimenting with them. The gear board your Grandma Skousen sent you several months ago has long been a favorite-- but this month you've really started focusing on it, building towers on the spinning gears, finding ways to stop the spinning of the gears, matching colors, and pushing buttons until the toy plays a song you want to hear. You've also really started to be interested in "helping." You want to push the vacuum. You want to sweep the floor. You want to mop. You help combine ingredients in baked goods. You drag the table bench over to the kitchen sink when you see that I'm doing dishes. I had heard other moms complain about this stage and always wondered why. Wouldn't it be great to have a little helper instead of a little hinderance? But now I'm discovering that little helpers can be little hinderances. Everything gets done more slowly and less thoroughly with a 22-month-old on your team. You've got your own ideas about how things should be done (the vacuum needs to be turned off to really be effective; the dirt needs to be spread out by the broom, not gathered together; the dishes in the drainer need to be put back in the rinse water and the dishes in the rinse water need to be returned to the dirty dish pile) and no amount of explaining on my side seems to impact your opinions on such matters. Though I don't want you to misinterpret: I'm not complaining. I enjoy having you there with me while I work. I'm glad that you want to help and I know that you're developing a sense of autonomy and self-confidence from your practice. You're my little sweetheart and there's no way I would rather do the dishes than with your little body standing on a stool next to me.

In other news, your biting problem has diminished significantly this month, thanks to a series of family home evening lessons about what teeth are supposed to be used for (eating and smiling) and are not supposed to be used for (biting people). Unfortunately, you forget yourself from time to time. Sometimes at very inappropriate times. For example, Auntie Loriann, who had just been laid off from her job, came over to visit. You ran over to her and hugged her legs in a gesture of warmth and welcome that would have been just what she needed-- had you not then turned your head and chomped into her upper thigh. She was then forced to wind up an already-rotten day by screaming "SHIT" very loudly, spending a little time crying in the bathroom, and then passing the remainder of the evening with a pack of frozen peas pressed against her crotch. You seemed largely unrepentant, despite a brief stint in time-out and a quick refresher lesson about how Ceecee wants us to touch each other nicely and not bite other people's crotches.

I'm told that you are an unusually active child. I believe it. I am sometimes amazed when I observe other people's children your same age. They're allowed to do things like sit on the kitchen counter while their mommies work, wander in and out of the bathroom with adult supervision, and eat at the table with grown-ups. You, on the other hand, are not.

If I were to put you on the kitchen counter, you would immediately grab everything in sight, examine it, cling to it passionately if dangerous and throw it away if uninteresting. You would want to empty/squeeze/splash in/sample anything in any nearby containers. You would then attempt to crawl over to the sink or the stovetop. This would all quickly dissolve into my putting you back on the floor and your throwing a fit about not being allowed to do anything fun.

The bathroom is completely off-limits to you because, even with close adult supervision, you quickly find ways to empty the comet containers onto the floor, unravel the toilet paper, shake the over-the-toilet cabinet so that things fall off, splash in the toilet bowl, and sample the toothpaste.

The kitchen table provides similar opportunities: cups and pitchers to sample from and dump, plates and bowls to grab, napkins to eat, an entirely new surface to crawl/walk/dance on. Despite our best efforts to show you you to sit nicely at the table, I'll admit that there are times when-- after you've finished your meal in your highchair--we'll set you outside the kitchen, move the hope chest in front of it, and exclude you our dining experience. This usually results in your crying, which makes me feel like a big fat meanie.

My friend Holly tells me that when her little Aubrey sees a cabinet door open, she'll close it. You, on the other hand, will pry cabinet doors open and scatter the contents of said cabinet as far around the house as possible. If I'm ever foolish enough to leave the pantry door open, your trouble radar immediately beeps, and you're there as quickly as your little legs can carry you, hoping to throw several handfuls of flour and sugar on the floor before an adult notices what's happening and apprehends you.

One of your favorite activities this month has been unlocking, then opening, the oven; using the door as a step; and unplugging all the heating coils on the stovetop. I left Nanny Q (aka Uncle Quentin) to watch you for a few hours one morning and later discovered an entire jumbo pack of batteries that had been emptied into the stove. There was also a package of chalk in the oven. And several unusued diapers in the trash can.

I say this all with chagrin, but also with a note of amusement. You certainly keep things lively around here. I love your curiosity and activity. I love your stubborness, intrepidity, and individuality. Sometimes these characteristics make me pull my hair out and scream, "How long until the gypsies come to town and I can trade you for a bag of magic beans?" But that's okay. It's good for me. I like a challenge. And you're such an adorable challenge.

I love you, baby. Happy 22 and 1/2 months.



Nick said...

Didn't think I could be any happier today. Then I read this. Love you guys.

Karen said...

Another great newsletter as usual. I love how you describe how Soren says all his new words. I can just hear it in his little Soren voice. I also like that you tell about what you do and how you feel, good and bad. It's very entertaining and makes us all feel a bit more normal. :)

Dear Lovey Heart said...

this is just wonderful rachel

Bethany said...

Hi Rachel,

I don't know you, but I stumbled here via Lindy Layland's blog. Anyway, I'm the happy mother of a 20-month-old and I just had quite a laugh reading your post. I too am blessed with an "active" toddler, and some of your descriptions just reminded me that I'm not the only one fighting an adorable, uphill battle.

Thanks for the laugh.


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