Archives for posts with tag: toddlers

Sitting in the computer chair, in no danger to myself or anyone else, my sweet, sweet daughter came up to me and said, “Honey. Honey! You has to be cazhul [CAY*zhul – careful]!” 

Kids are mimics. This comes as no shock to any parent or to anyone who’s spent much time around children. Nonetheless, hearing your words come back to you, thankfully (this time!) in such a sweet and unexpected way, is always a bit of a surprise.

How much of what we say does she soak up? How much of what we say lingers with others? It doesn’t hurt to be the best possible version of ourselves as much of the time as we can. I’ll have to remember to be cazhul…

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“I will hold my Boo-Boo!” she orated, standing on the bed in the semi-darkness, wispy blondish hair splaying out from her head as she shook her head from side to side. “I pat Boo-Boo!” The head shaking continued, accompanied by a serious look not unlike a teacher looking down her nose, a dare for me to interrupt her. I did not. She added more about Boo-Boo eating cat food, then added bits about her being sick, then “I pat her.” Her arms were drawn forward, towards the now-only-remembered feline.

My daughter turned down my kind offer to put her to sleep early, so we left the semi-darkness of the bedroom for the quasi-darkness of the living room, and here I sit, typing; her daddy just came home. As he opened the door, the fading light of evening framing him, she shook her head again, emphatically, and said, “I won’t pat Boo-Boo any more.”

And she’s right. She can’t. She was there, way back in December, four months ago, for Boo-Boo’s last moments. But where does this…this knowledge of the world, all this memory, come from? In my almost two-year-old?

“I won’t pat my Boo-Boo any more,” she said, minutes later.

No, my sweet girl, you won’t.

Pop pop, noodle noodle, close your eyes,
Close your eyes right now, I say.

Pop pop, noodle noodle, close your eyes,
It’s time to sleep at end of day.

A new song was born at bedtime on Sunday night, sending her off into sleep on the first night of the new year. More minor than major, the tune got caught on some peg at the entrance to my brain, and it’s still hanging at the entryway. Whether I’m humming it audibly or it’s just swaying on its hook in my head, it’s stuck. (And how does it happen that a song can play in your head when there is no sound?)

She, too, at 20+ months, is finding that she is stuck. New Year’s Eve, she was up for at least an hour in the middle of the night, going through her lists, largely family names and body parts. New Year’s Day, as she was falling asleep, she added new items: we talked about rhyming recently, and I guess she’s processing the new information. Elbow, which she now says as “el-bow” and not just “bow” (just as armpit used to be “pit” and on New Year’s Day became “arm-pit”),  and Elmo, a character she knows from a plastic sippy cup at her grandmother Zee-Zee’s house, were her first rhyme. She said them herself. “Elmo,” we pointed out. “Elmo,” she repeated, then added, “Elbow.” Cue parental jubilation. Never has a Sesame Street character sounded so good to my ears. Then we added “cat” and “pat,” “pat” being one of her favorite words these days. On her instructions, we have to pat her, the cat, friends’ and families’ dogs, and sometimes each other. “Patty her,” she urges, regardless of gender.

When it’s time to sleep, her brain needs time to wind down (even I find her lists and repetition tiring; how must it feel to be her!). “Potty it,” she pleads. “Potty,” sounding like something between “pat,” “potty,” and “pout,” is her way of saying to pat her. As she lies in her crib,  I pat her and sing. She talks herself down. “Pit pot cat,” she chanted Sunday; “pit pot cat.” Maybe they aren’t quite rhymes for her yet, but they will be. Eventually, she sleeps.

I’m going the opposite way, from rhyming to not quite rhyming. Tonight, after following her instructions to cover her with her “bate” (blanket) and to “potty it,” she said, “pah noodle.” It might be her first song request. In the new singing of it, the last line has become, “It’s time to sleep my baby.” “Say” and “baby” may not exactly rhyme, but I like the song better now. There were no complaints from the crib, either; she’s learning early on that that language is a bit like a toy: something you can play with but must set aside if you ever want to sleep.

Her lists are quieted, and for now, she is, too.

She’s just one and a half, not too two.

She does look very cute in a tutu.

But sometimes, her language is too two. And too blue. And too hot.

On a Skype chat with my parents, my aunt, and my cousin, I held up two fingers and asked my daughter, “How many fingers am I holding up?”

“Two!” she replied emphatically. They were duly impressed.

I held up her foot, which was encased in a hand-me-down Croc, her new love (she can put them on herself, and she does, just to walk around the house in them), and asked her what color the shoe was. “Boo!” she replied, with an equal degree of certainty. Boo is the new blue – and perfect for this time of year.

My parents were convinced that their grandchild was surely the smartest year-and-a-half old on this side – or the other side – of the Mississippi. They cheered and applauded, and my aunt and cousin added a “Wow!” of their own.

I could have left it at that. I could have left them with the glow of certainty, the pride in what their genes had done for my daughter, their granddaughter. But I didn’t.

With one finger in the air, a beacon or finger of warning, I asked my not-so-wee daughter, “How many fingers is Mama holding up?”

Confidently she made her pronouncement: “Two!”

I similarly burned off the rosy glow of their belief in her color knowledge by asking what color the button on her pajamas was. “Boo!” she replied, pointing at the purple button.

Every color is blue, every number is two – and all food is hot. Dish her up a bowl of soup, creamy pumpkin and beans and tomatoes mingling in their own private hot tub, and she’ll warn, “Hot!” “Hot,” I’ll agree as I blow on it, finally giving her something closer to a tepid bath. Give her a piece of Havarti, which she prefers over Cheddar, and she’ll touch it with the palm of her hand, using reflexes honed by petting cats who are not always happy to be petted. Her hand springs back as if attached to overstretched rubber bands, and she looks at us wisely, counseling, “Hot! Hot!” “Cold,” I offer. “It came out of the refrigerator. Cold.” She looks at me as if I don’t know my left from my right or my hot from my cold and reiterates, “Hot!”

Hot cheese it is, then.

At some point, she surely will know red from blue and one from two. Knowing hot from cold with be old news – old. For now, I just think it’s nice that she can be right all of the time – if only we ask the right questions. I guess that goes for all of us, doesn’t it?

How many basketballs do you see here? My daughter can tell you!