The biggest personal consequence of Robin not walking yet is that I’ve stopped reading my newsletters from BabyCenter, and other average child development status updates. They all start with ‘Your toddler is running all over the place now and may be learning to jump!’ and so on, and thus are totally useless and kind of depressing. (Depressing: it feels like there are… experiential things Robin is missing out on, or maybe I’m missing out on.)
Doctor’s diagnosis: he’s stubborn and a bit scared. She offered us a referral to whatchamacallit, which we put off on for a few months based on her evaluation of his fitness otherwise. She also told us to stop helping him walk, but he did that himself. Now, while he still cruises gleefully and skillfully, he will only drag his feet if we try to make him walk with us. Yesterday I asked him if he wanted to walk while we were playing (because I saw him thinking about free standing) and he gave me a look and then dropped to all fours and scooted across the room and back again three times.
I’ve never seen as coordinated a crawler, I have to say, although it’s hard to tell because the web believes all toddler coordination is measured by how well they walk/run/jump. Not only does he crawl backwards very well, he can also strafe from side to side. Â Sometimes he shuffles on just his knees, and when he wants to hold something while he crawls, he either sticks it in his mouth, or hobbles on knees, hand and elbow. It’s ridiculous. Occasionally he attempts free-standing, often when he thinks nobody’s looking. He inevitably loses his balance (because this is what happens when you’re learning balance), falls down and doesn’t try again for a while. It’s always very clear when he’s trying it, too. It isn’t a casual thing, but something he considers measuringly before deliberately pushes himself away from whatever he’s using to aid balance.
In other areas, I think he’s doing fine, maybe even ahead of the curve? As I said, I don’t really read milestone reports anymore, but the doctor mumbled something about his language skills being good. Around his 18 month birthday, he could use 14 words or so, and very few of them sounded anything like their source word. Sometime after that, his vocabulary exploded, and now it’s…immeasurable. Immeasurable because sometimes he says a word only once, clearly. Immeasurable because his pronunciation is so atrocious that unless he’s repeating after us, we can’t tell the difference between ‘cheese’, ‘fish’, ‘juice’ and whatever else he’s started applying the ‘tshsh’ sound to. ‘Yes’, I think. Â He’s getting new sounds as well as repurposing old sounds: ‘yeah’, ‘mom’ (for some reason mama is still ‘yayayaya’ but he can do ‘mom’ almost perfectly when he deigns to grant our request).
A lot of the time when we ask him to try a new word he’ll move his mouth in the beginning sound and then refuse, looking away. But he’s started babbling a lot again, using many of his real words along with his new incomprehensible words mixed in with what I guess is babytalk. Although I’m really not sure; it feels a lot more like living with somebody who speaks a different language than who doesn’t speak anymore. He seems to learn (as in learn to understand and maybe mumble) many words a day (judged by telling him the names of things in books and asking him to find them on other pages or locations). He can point at most body parts.
He doesn’t use language to communicate most of his basic needs to us. ‘Bottle’, still, to indicate most forms of drinkable (although sometimes he’s opinionated). But he doesn’t seem to notice hunger until he sees us eating, and then he shrieks. Or it’s a generalized discomfort that he whines about, and could mean ‘food’ or ‘out’ or ‘lonely’ or whatever. He climbs us when he wants ‘up’. Â He whines when he wants to be free to roam. He seems to mostly use language for secondary interests. Especially for doggies. And Dante. And daddy. Kid knows his comfort zones.
He loves fish and doggies and kitties, and understands that there are other animals besides those but believes they mostly look like doggies. (given the wide variety of looks a dog can have, this is a reasonable guess). He also loves stars, and recently we showed him stars in the night sky, which I think he was able to appreciate.Â Â He still loves sound; his first interaction with any new toy is figuring out what sound it makes if he drops/bangs it on the floor. We’ve tried play-do and he’s more interested in the container the play-do comes in than the interesting malleability of the play-do itself. Â He’s very deft with his bead mazes, a toy I could never understand the appeal of before Robin.
We’ve been going to Seattle on Wednesdays, visiting the Zoo and their Zoomazium children’s center in the morning, and the Children’s Museum at the Seattle Center in the afternoons. He enjoys the play areas in both places, although he tends to be done with the Zoomazium after the scheduled event, get bored at the Zoo itself, and be possessive of the Children’s Museum’s water table.
His current total obsessionÂ is Legos. It started a couple of months ago, when he figured out how to pull Duplo bricks apart. At first, he’d make us stick them together again, but when he started figuring out he could do it too, we made up a little game to encourage him to work on it himself (in essence: saying ‘together!’ when they were stuck together and ‘apart!’ when he pulled them apart. An opportunity to make people produce sounds on command? Win!) There followed a period of lots of frustration as he mastered sticking them together, followed by another period of frustration when he realized he couldn’t stick them all together; the line would break first. This made him Very Angry. For a while he focused exclusively on the 2x2x2 bricks, because the others frustrated him. But then he worked out how to interact with the 2x2x4 bricks, and would build Â chains of those, but the 1x2x4 bricks still stymied him. Yesterday I found a tower of all 1x2x4 size, so I guess he’s mastered those too. He’ll spend hoursÂ playing with the bricks, too. It’s… well, not amazing, exactly, but impressive, certainly. Â And he’s okay doing it by himself, too. It’s more fun, of course, if somebody is playing with him (where playing means ‘nearby making things for him to destroy, or serving as a sound box’).
Last night we went out to dinner at the Cheesecake Factory and experienced our first full-on public baby/toddler total meltdown. It coincided with the onset of a bunch of snot, sneezing and coughing, so I’m pretty sympathetic. Or at least I was last night. Right now, he’s totally wired, and I’m not even sure how that’s possible given how much snot is leaking out of his nose.
Oooh, Mr. Wired seems to be interested in a nap. Good bye!