I know that it’s cliche, and that every parent says it, but they just grow up so fast! As you’ve seen, Aili has lost that ‘baby look’ and now looks like a little girl! She’s also keen to communicate, and learns more complex concepts with astonishing speed.
Signing is going well. I would say she’s very confident with 20 – 30 signs, and is primarily limited by my own limited sign vocabulary! Most of the signs are nouns such as ‘puppydog’, ‘butterfly’, or ‘car’, but she can also tell me when she’s hungry, thirsty, or wants a nap (my favourite sign of all!) She can tell me what she wants more of, and tells me she hears something, or is going to have a bath. It’s also convenient that she can clearly tell me with head nodding or shaking if she wants something or not.
Now that she understands the concept that those wacky gestures that mommy does actually mean something, she picks up new signs within a day or so. She’s also expanding the meaning of signs that she knows to encompass other concepts. For example, she now uses the ‘more’ sign to indicate if she wants something. To you and me, this might seem obvious, but for a one year old, it strikes me as both a creative and abstract conceptual stretch. Sometimes she wants to communicate something and will actually make up her own sign to try to get her point across, which can be quite frustrating for both of us!
Aili’s also making efforts to talk! She can tell you what a dog, cat, or cow says, she’ll say ‘Hi’ to you, ask to be picked ‘up’, and when you show her a picture of herself she can identify that it’s ‘Ai’. I’ve also heard efforts to say ‘yes’, ‘fish’, ‘yeah’, ‘tree’, and for the life of her she can’t figure out how to make the ‘zzzz’ sound for ‘zipper’. She also tries hard to say words that start with ‘ba’: ‘bear’, ‘butterfly’, ‘bird’. Upon reflection, it must be difficult to try to use your lips and tongue to intentionally make sounds that are unfamiliar. She really has to learn by trial and error, and I’ve witness clear efforts on her part to mimic the sounds that I make.
For some reason, although lots of the toddler development websites say that they might be using ‘mama’ and ‘dada’ accurately, Aili does no such thing. She sometimes calls me ‘meme’ or ‘mahme’, but usually it’s just a random part of her babbling. She does know the signs for both mommy and daddy, and in just the last day or so has started using them accurately.
Her walking is getting more confident, as are her fine motor skills. She now delights in presenting me with miniscule fluffs and lint balls she’s found on the carpet. She covers a lot of ground, and I frequently find things in the kitchen that originally came from the bathroom, things in her bedroom that are from the loft, and things in the dining room that she found by the front door.
Her favourite thing to do, other than toddling around and shrieking with delight, is to bring you a book, climb into your lap, turn around and snuggle up to you, and read a story. She loves to identify the things she sees on the pages. She’s also very much into kissing, and will kiss anyone and everything: the cat, the dog, her favourite stuffed animals, and even another kid she took a liking to at Crazy Crawlers last Monday! This morning she gave Leo a kiss with her stuffed animal, which was the first time she’s showed the creativity to manipulate a toy to perform a very human action.
She also watches what we do very closely, and mimics our actions. They may not make sense to her, or seem comical coming from such a tiny person, but she only needs to see it once and it’s a part of her repertoire. For example, she now associates balloons with scissors because she saw me pop one once, and she knows that I somehow attach that long blue cord to Leo, so now she tries to touch him with the end of the leash. She doesn’t understand which end, or that it actually clips to his collar, but the two things are associated, so she tries hard to mimic me.
A new behaviour that we’re seeing recently is a lot of clinginess. She wants to be held, and she wants to be entertained. If I don’t comply, I get a performance of of the world’s fakest crying in combination with an awful sound that I call the ‘Howler Monkey’. You can only imagine. Well, not only is the time consuming and annoying when you’re trying to get something else done, but it’s going to be absolutely impossible in a few short months when Junior arrives! I’m now making a concerted effort to discourage this behaviour, which involves putting her in the loft where she’s safe, not playing with her, and going about my business until she goes to play on her own. Only then do I come upstairs to play with her.
Our responsibility as parents starts so early. Someone wise I know once told me that our job as parents is to spend every day from the moment they’re born teaching them to become independent from us. I’ve been surprised how early and how often we’ve had to consciously make parenting choices to shape her behaviour. Just a few examples include: sleeping in her crib, sleeping through the night, eating behaviours, weird attachment behaviours surrounding stuffed toys, and now playing independently.
Well, enough of my blathering on. I’ll find some more pictures for you, and have a fantastic video that Johnny made. I’ll post them soon.