Thursday, December 11, 2008

23 months

When Adriana wasn't talking at all, it seemed as though everyone would tell me, "Well, she'll talk she's ready, and she'll probably start with complete sentences." While the first part is certainly true, I'm glad the second isn't. She seems to be going along with the normal beginning language, that some kids do at eight months and others not until they're three: her words aren't always entirely clear, but I can interpret them fairly easily, and there are certain sounds that are harder to make. "S" is apparently a hard one. "Please" is "pweesh," and "stop" is "dop."

I do love the way that her signs and spoken language are combined. In some cases, she signs the word that she is saying, but she usually doesn't. She does follow up signs with different words. Her stuffed monkey got dropped down the stairs outside the other day, and now as she looks at the bandage we put on him afterwards, she signs "monkey" and "down" and then says, "BOOM!" And then she goes on in signs to tell me mama put on a band-aid with cats and flowers.

Brian and I keep marveling at how much Adriana is saying all of a sudden. She doesn't have a great number of words, but she seems to be babbling constantly (at least when it's just us; she gets shy around others) and is frequently mimicking the last word we say. I am finding her shyness rather adorable. She'll smile at strangers, but when they talk to her or approach her, she turns her face toward me, or steps behind my legs. That's only with adults, though. With other kids, she is very sociable, and she eagerly approaches dogs.

Adriana eats several almost-meals a day: a bowl of cereal or slice of toast for breakfast, fruit and yogurt before her nap, some sort of snack after her nap, cheese and crackers and veggies while I'm cooking dinner, and then some of whatever we're having for dinner. But she is very easily distracted when she is eating. When there is a lot going on around her, she won't eat, even when she's hungry. And Brian and I often both sit at the dinner table long after we've finished our food, because Adriana is still making her way slowly through her dinner, and if either one of us gets up to do something else, she'll forget that she's supposed to be eating.

The rest of the time, though, she can be very focused. A friend recently described how her two-year-old pretends not to hear when she's being called because she doesn't want to stop what she's doing. Adriana also gets so busy she doesn't seem to hear us call her, but I don't think she is deliberately ignoring us. She honestly gets so focused on her sticker book or whatever she is doing with her toys that she doesn't hear. I actually have memories of being scolded in kindergarten for similar behaviors: at the end of a free play time I would hear my name being called and look up to see all the other children sitting down for circle time, and I would be there in my corner looking at a book or surrounded by the crayons and paper I had been using. "I didn't hear," I would protest when asked why I hadn't put things away and come to the circle. And Mrs. White would ask how it was possible that I hadn't hear when everyone else had, and I would have no answer but I would know that I truly hadn't heard. So when I describe about Adriana's deep focus on certain things to her speech therapist (in order to explain why Adriana won't answer questions as part of a listening game while she is playing with a doll house), and the therapist says that it will serve her well later in life when she needs to concentrate in order to study, I think that she is probably right, but I still feel bad for both Adriana and the kindergarten teacher. For now, I just make myself decide whether I really need Adriana's attention. After all, lunch can wait a few minutes if she's busily playing by herself--and it gives me a chance to read for a bit. And if I do need her to change tasks, a light touch on her arm and a "look at mama" usually get her attention. Of course, she may shake her head no and try to continue with what she's doing once she's heard what I'm asking, but at least I know then that she's heard me.

I am really loving the mixture of baby and "big girl' that she is right now. She reaches for me when she's upset, and falls asleep in my arms when she's tired. But we go out to eat and she insists on sitting in a chair, a real chair, not a high chair or a booster seat, and eating with a real fork. She wants to walk, not ride in the stroller or the Beco. Of course, when we walk some place, she is still everywhere--off to try climbing up someone's front steps, picking up pine cones to examine, carefully studying fire hydrants, or gathering colorful pieces of litter. Usually I am patient and watch her explore. Still, it feels as though I say "Are you going to walk or am I going to have to carry you?" about 100 times a day. (The answer is always no, and then she moves a few steps forward before getting distracted again...what was that I was saying about her focus?) So we play games to keep her moving along: we practice walking on tiptoes, or backwards, or like a penguin. We march or see how big we can step. We say "Go, go, go, go....stop," and stop every few steps, because it gets her giggling and she is eager for the "go" so she can continue moving. And eventually we get there. Of course, then we have to get home afterwards, and so the whole thing happens again. Which is sort of just how life goes, I suppose: you do what you have to do to get where you're going, and then the next day you do it all again.

Brian's parents have a copy of Miss Rumphius, one of my favorite books from when I was a child. I thought Adriana might be a bit young for it, but I read it to her anyhow, and she sits patiently for it several times in a row. Last time we were reading it one line really stood out to me: "In the mean time, Alice got up and washed her face and ate porridge for breakfast. She went to school and came home and did her homework. And pretty soon she was grown up." It to me a funny way of describing growing up, of thinking about life, but also very true. And yet it leaves out so much. So even though we get up every day and do the same thing over again, that "same thing" means feeling the prickly bits of a pine cone, or figuring out how glue makes your fingers stick together, or having your first taste of gingerbread, or throwing leaves into a fountain to watch the water push them around. And then you come home and take your bath and read stories and snuggle down to sleep, just as you always do, so that you are rested to do it all again tomorrow.

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