Later this week, Lillian will be turning two years old! It’s hard to believe how time has been flying by so fast — and since it’s been so long since I did a “general update” kind of post, for today I thought it would be fun to share a backlog of random toddler stories that has been building up over the past few months.
Longtime readers may remember the rocking lion we got from the raffle at our first neighborhood block party the summer before Lillian was born — and as the photo above shows, she’s finally gotten big enough to enjoy it! She loves rocking back and forth while saying “wheee!” for short bursts of a minute or two at a time.
It’s amazing how much she’s learning about everything. Colors — she’s constantly saying “green!” or “blue!” or “white!” while pointing whenever she sees something that color. Shapes — while she can’t say “triangle” or “rectangle” yet, if you ask her to pick them out of her wooden shape puzzle, she can totally do it. Animal sounds — she’ll say “moo!” when seeing a picture of a cow, “roar!” for a picture of a lion, “neigh!” for a picture of a horse.
And she’s even learning her letters and numbers. So far she seems to know A, B, D, E, I, M (“mama!” she’ll say while pointing at it), N, O, and the number 8. One night, we were reading our routine bedtime story — it was Home For A Bunny, and “By Margaret Wise Brown” was written across the bottom of the cover. Lillian pointed to the B in By and said “B!” This took me by surprise at the time, so I asked her if she saw another B on the cover. She pointed to the B in Brown and said, “B!”
Little things like this really make my day. Being a busy working mom, it’s easy to feel those insecurities that my daughter might be at a disadvantage due to my not being home, all day every day, to teach her things and fill her hours with enriching mind-growing activities. But every day, she’s showing how she’s soaking it all up anyway.
But just to change gears a little — sometimes when writing updates on this blog, I feel like I’m portraying an impossibly easy and effortless experience with raising this little girl. Sleeping through the night! Eating with silverware! Learning the alphabet! And while it’s true that we’ve been lucky in a lot of ways, I think I also have a tendency to focus on the positive, sometimes to the exclusion of everything else. So in the interest of keeping it real, here are a couple of less than perfect things that deserve at least a passing mention:
- Sniffles and sicknesses: No child is going to be 100% healthy 100% of the time, and of course ours is no exception. One time, she had a bad ear infection, but never really cried or complained about it, and it was only a slight fever over the course of a few days that led us to take her to the doctor, who discovered the angry bulging infection. (This experience did nothing to ease those irrational hypochondriac “oh no what if our child is secretly dying” parent fears.)
- Nursemaid’s elbow: Though we’d never heard of it, there’s apparently a fairly common thing at this age where a toddler can easily dislocate their elbow (Wikipedia article here), and we learned about this phenomenon the hard way a few months ago. We’ve been told that some kids are more prone to it than others, and that if it’s happened once, it’ll be more likely to happen again — though so far there have been no repeats (knock on wood).
- Tantrums and meltdowns: We are no stranger to these. On a couple occasions we’ve tried to go to a restaurant only to get a massive tantrum when trying to seat her in the high chair, or screaming and fussing to the point where we’d have to take her outside. And one time, we were walking past a neighbor’s house who had some colorful pinwheel decorations in their front garden, and Lillian wanted to pull them out of the ground and play with them, which (for obvious reasons I hope) we did not consider acceptable behavior. This resulted in one of the loudest tantrums you can imagine, with shrieks echoing through the entire neighborhood, and people staring to see what was going on. That was longest block and a half I’ve ever walked!
That last bullet point especially can make it worrisome to be approaching the “terrible twos” — but to go back to focusing on the positive, it doesn’t seem like the tantrums have been getting worse or more frequent over time (if anything it’s been the opposite) and we’ve been doing our best to reinforce good behavior in the hopes of seeing more of it. On that note, here’s a random photo of Lillian enjoying a chocolate milk during a weekend visit to Jamba Juice, sitting in a big person chair and everything:
It’s fascinating to see her becoming more independent, and forming opinions and conclusions about things in that inexplicable capricious toddler way. Wanting to wear the polka-dot pants. Wanting to use that spoon, not this one. One night, she decided she liked covering up with a beach towel better than her usual blanket, and why argue with something that makes an almost-two-year-old happy to lie down and go to sleep? It’s practically the same thing anyway.
Here are some other quirky little habits and mannerisms, in no particular order:
- She’ll read books to you. This consists of turning each page and letting out a long stream of incomprehensible babytalk — although I’ve noticed that if she’s reading a book about a train, you’ll hear a “toot toot!” somewhere randomly thrown in there. So there seems to be some kind of logic to it.
- If you point a camera (or more often these days, a phone) at her, she’ll smile and say “deeeeee!” which I’m pretty sure is Lily-speak for “cheese.”
- If you scold her for anything, she’ll come over and give you a hug and a kiss. Crayon scribbles on the walls? Or on the shiny new microwave? Hug. Smooch. And then it’s impossible to feel even a little bit grumpy at her. (I’m not sure where she learned this, and it’s hard to decide whether it should be interpreted as “I’m sorry Mommy” or “I know exactly how cute I am and you are powerless against my charms, mua-ha-ha-ha-ha!”)
When it comes to vocabulary, I feel like I’m hearing new words out of Lillian every day, and they sometimes come as a surprise — I didn’t know she could say “brick” or “airplane” until she blurted the word out while pointing at one, to use a few recent examples. And sometimes she’ll even string simple words together in some creative way to describe some new thing she’s seeing, like when she used “light balloon” to describe these big roundish light fixtures outside a movie theater we drove past. (Her description was even arguably better and more concise than mine!)
As far as words in general go, here are some of the ones we’ve been hearing the most lately:
- No – Sometimes spoken as the simple response to a direct question, and sometimes spoken with attitude, in a “bad dog!” kind of tone.
- Cookie – Everything she wants to eat is a “cookie” right now. Crackers? Chips? Cereal? Cookie!
- Mine – Everything, period. In fairness she seems to use it more in the sense of “I would really like to be holding that thing in my hands right now” rather than any real concept of ownership, but it’s definitely one of those toddler things!
- Shh – She knows how to shush people. If she wants you to stop talking, she can tell you so. (It’s the beginning of the end, I tell you!)
- Bye-bye – She loves saying this one to everyone and everything. One time we were sitting near the door at a restaurant, and Lillian would say “bye-bye!” to every person that passed on their way out. (It was funny to watch them do a double-take and then say goodbye in return.)
In other news, Grendel has been adjusting about as well as a cat can be expected to adjust to this whole “life with a toddler” thing. Our feline family member has been patiently enduring such things as:
- Letting Lillian fill up her food bowl — which sometimes involves watching kibble be spilled all over the floor, and then slowly picked up one piece at a time. Or watching the bowl be filled, and then emptied, and then re-filled, over and over. Because toddlers like repetition that way.
- Watching Lillian slip her hand into her water bowl, say “Uh-oh! Oh no!” in a highly dramatic fashion, run across the kitchen to dry her hand on the dish towel, and then return to the water dish to purposely make the same mistake again 15 seconds later.
- Generally being chased around around the house by a small human making loud, high-pitched noises or outright yelling, “HI, CAT!”
So anyway, that concludes this latest long-winded post with a bunch of random toddler updates! I don’t know how almost a whole month has passed since my previous post on this blog, but with Halloween and Lillian’s birthday coming up so soon, we’ll see if I’ll be able to post a bit more frequently on these adventures!