Thursday, September 16, 2010

This child

There is a small and swirling girl in our midst these days- only a shadow of the baby we once cradled in our arms. Every day, every hour, another word is spoken, new skill is learned, milestone is reached, and I say to myself, 'Don't forget this. Please don't forget this moment.' But the moments form miniature mountains around me and at the end of the day all that is left is a vague sense of awe at how quickly the landscape is changing around us. The details...washed away in the fading light.

Language. Oh to watch her finally and gradually communicate her thoughts in words:

"Hep, hep" she calls when she's gotten herself into a precarious situation. Often with both feet stuck inside the hole of her potty or wedged behind the toilet for God knows what reason.
"Please," she signs passionately and sometimes says, leaving the rest to be deciphered by her psychic parents: Please what??
A favorite: "Peace!" spoken dramatically with thumb and pointer finger thrust forward.
"Baby, na na na na na" as she points to a a sleeping baby in a magazine.
"No, no, no, no, no" accompanied by a wagging finger to show that a cupboard is not to be opened or the toilet water is not to be splashed in.
There are lists of words...all done, moon, balloon, bubble, baby, water, juice, peas, cheese, milk, May, Aman, Papa, Abdu'l-Baha (Ababa), bath, Elmo, ABCs, hat, shoes, apple, want this!,yeah, Tiernan (Neneh), zhuzhu (swing), ice, hi, bye, meow, Allah'u'abha (Abha), Brown bear, brown bear (bow beh, bow beh)...

But the most amazing thing is her recent ability to repeat words on the spot. Since it is currently less than pleasant to take her into any store (How dare you stop me from ripping everything off the shelves, running off with your debit card down the aisles, and from containing me in any form), I try to narrate everything that is happening to engage her in the process. As we ring up each grocery item, These are lemons, can you say lemon? And with amazing accuracy, she does! Every time it is completely amazing to hear her utter a word she has never said before right on the spot. I find myself looking around at the other people in line for some mutual acknowledgement of what we have just witnessed, but all I get is a polite smile. Today I asked her to say cranberry, and by golly she came pretty close. That's a solid three syllables folks.

And it isn't just words. We took Eric Carle's 'From Head to Toe' out of the library and within a day she had mastered each of the animal movements. She does a mean gorilla.
She pants and barks at dogs, makes some sound that Sisay taught her for squirrels, signs 'bird' and 'fish'.
She nurses her babies and lays them on the bed with an accompanying 'na na na na na.' She sits Elmo up in front of her wooden ABC toy and sings over and over again,'ABC! ABC! ABC!' This particularly kills me.
And she understands. everything. Which is particularly helpful for bribing purposes: Eat another bite and I'll give you more ice and You want milk? Okay, diaper change first, then milk.
We've also reached the point where important objects go completely and utterly missing when you should have been out the door 10 minutes ago. My hairbrush? In her sock drawer. Cell phone? Browning nicely in the play kitchen oven. Library book? To be continued...

I suppose that's enough of 'my daughter is so amazing and the internet must deeply understand.' Can I just say how completely yummy she was tonight when we were putting her to bed. Oh, the spontaneous hugs! Oh, the accompanied patting of our backs! I do declare there is nothing sweeter than a spontaneous hug from a 15-month-old.

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