I have always thought of Adriana as independent. She seemed to want to support her own head from a very early age, and she refused almost all solid foods until she could feed herself. Watching her and comparing her to other kids at the park, I felt that, even though she wanted me right with her most of the time, she didn't reach for me for help as often as some of the others reached for their caregivers. But I think her need for independence has become even bigger lately. Her lack of true independence means she compensates by exerting her authority when and where she can. "Ana do," I hear many times a day, whenever I attempt to help her with something she wants to do herself, which is pretty much everything. She picks out her own clothes each day (and heaven forbid her cupcake dress is in the wash when she wants to wear it--which is several times a week--or I offer her white tights instead of pink) and does her best to put them on herself. If I try to pick out what color hair bows she wears or try to put her shoes and socks on for her, it's a crisis. She tells me what she wants for breakfast and lunch, although, strangely, given her unwillingness to let me feed her as an infant, she mostly wants me to feed her now.
Sometimes her independence makes me nervous. She wants to climb up on a step stool to reach things, rather than having me get them for her. And at the park she terrifies me as she tries to imitate children several years older than she is. As she tried to stand up on the rails of a seesaw at the park, I put my hands out near her, spotting her, ready to catch her if she fell. Every time I got nervous and actually put my hands on her, she said, "No, Mom," in such an exasperated tone that I felt that I was gaining insight into our relationship ten years into the future. But at the same time, I'm excited to see this independent personality emerging.
She's also a bit of a bossy personality. She continues to talk more and more, and has definitely mastered the imperative: "Mom read book," and "Mom sit down," and other such orders are frequently heard around our house. "A three word sentence," my friend's husband commented one day at the park as Adriana directed me to push her in a swing. "Yes," I said, "but I'd rather it were four, with a 'please' at the end." He suggested that I should just be glad that she wasn't already tagging "now" onto her little sentence. The next day she ordered me to read her "monkey book" and I told her I needed to finish what I was doing, and she grabbed my leg and said, "Mom, please read monkey book, NOW." Okay, fine, it was, "Mom, pwee wee monk book, NOW." But I understood exactly what she meant. And I did as I was told. She knows so many words now, and she will try to say most things you ask her to say, provided that she is in the right mood and that the word is no more than two syllables. Even on the two-syllable words, the second half is mostly slurred, but she is making the attempt. If you ask her to say anything longer she smiles and tells you, "No."
A couple of weeks ago, her speech therapist ran though some sort of language inventory with us. At this point I am not really concerned about her speech at all, but it was good to hear that, according to this particular index, she has the language skills of a 22-month-old. I don't feel that I'm rewriting things to say that I wasn't incredibly concerned from the time we began the evaluation process last summer--I wished she would talk and figured getting her evaluated couldn't hurt and it might help. I honestly don't know how much the therapy has helped--I have a feeling this would have happened naturally, when she was ready--but the therapy is fun for her, and I am just glad she is talking. Even if it is to boss me around.