Friday, May 20, 2011

This Boo is Made for Walking


She actually did it last Saturday, but I sort of cheated. I was kind of spotting her from the back, and then I let go. She walked to the couch. I hollered and cheered. Then, she did it again for Kiyomi...after which she showed no interest in it for a week. Then, today, she did some shuttle runs between Kiyomi and I for the better part of 15 minutes. It was cute. We kept clapping and cheering. She kept going back and forth with a very pleased look on her face. It was cute. I still am not sure when she will really want to walk from one place to another...that is, without a squealing, excited adult at each end to encourage her.

In other news, I'm some kind of immunological cripple. This must be why I've had a cold every month for the last six months. Not constantly sick; just sick, better, sick again, better, over and over. Well, "over and over" for a total of six. That is too many over-and-over's.

I blame breastfeeding.

I love breastfeeding, but still Ila is sapping my life force via my mammary glands. Fortunately, this means that she has only gotten sick a couple times - thanks to my amazing life force. (If I'm not going to benefit from it, I guess I'm happy Ila is.) Unfortunately, Ila got it this time, and she's miserable.

So, it is particularly remarkable she wanted to totter back and forth on her little feet today for so long. While she did do this little bit of exercise, she has mostly wanted to cry and look like a little sad, wilted bean. Poor little babe. So, in the interest of one sick little walker, I am making this brief.

She walked! Woo-hoo!!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Yes and No

So, yesterday was our first Mother's Day. Ila and I woke up all snuggled together, then she nursed for a while, then snuggled and slept more. It was pretty heavenly. I can't believe she is almost one! I look forward to seeing her as a toddler, a little kid and a big kid, even a teenager, and beyond...but moments like yesterday morning really bring home how sweet it is to have a baby around, with their funny little faces, chubby hands and feet and all the speaking-in-tongues babbling.

It's nice to remember how adorable and fascinating she is right now because we are also having, concurrent with all this cuteness, a horrible time sleeping. Ugh. She has been up for over 3 hours in the middle of the night several times in the last week. At those moments, I look forward to the time that she is sleeping soundly through the night - fine, fast forward five years, I don't care! I don't care if I miss all kinds of amazing things, just give me some solid sleep! Then, she's a cuddly little darling in the morning...and I think, ah well. Who needs sleep?

She is so cute.

Seriously, I walk around all day long saying, "You are SO cute" and feeling it with my whole being, in an acute, almost painful sort of way. I'm worried about the time I have to stop remarking on her adorableness out loud. Something tells me that it is not good for a child to hear this as a constant refrain. This is unfortunate; however, I don't want to be one of those ridiculous parents that are too clingy and affectionate and gushy, whose children shake them off constantly with embarrassment, whose praise means nothing because it not really earned and so often repeated. I'm just going to enjoy this time that I can kiss her on the cheek and tell her she's lovely every five minutes. Hopefully I'll be able to break this habit...

Developmentally this is an exciting time. She's not saying any words, and I have been really looking forward to I've been a bit disappointed. Actually, it's more that I've been wondering what I'm doing wrong - am I not talking to her enough or not in the best, most speech inducing way? And, she wasn't doing any signs - which we've been consistently using with her for months. So, naturally, this reinforced my certainty that she is either a) never going to be able to communicate OR b) crippled by my obvious ineptitude in instructing various forms of speech. Fortunately for all of us, she started signing this last week! Woo-hoo! She started with "all done" and "eat." These were shortly followed by "potty." Mostly, she signs this back at us in response to our signs or questions.

Since she was signing with some reliability, I decided to teach her to sign for "book" because she loves to be read to so much. This sign is easy; you open your two hands like a book. She picked it up right away...and it is the most bizarre of her signs. She's turned it into this exaggerated shrug with some head thrusting, usually accompanied by a bizarre smile/grimace. This is the sign that she does most frequently without any prompting. Actually, it's probably tied with "eat." An eater and a reader. I can live with that. I am curious to see when she starts using "potty" of her own volition. She goes on it when we put her on, but it will be very exciting when she starts actually indicating when she needs to go herself!

Beyond signing, she's making all kinds of little connections. The other day she had a shirt with a sheep on it. When we got to a page in a book we were reading with a sheep, she looked down at her shirt and pointed to the sheep. What was so exciting about this is that I've never mentioned that this creature on her shirt is a sheep. Also, the book we were reading does not mention the sheep by name; it's just one of the little animals cavorting in a barnyard. I thought this was pretty amazing. Upon reflecting on this, I think Kiyomi has called it the animal on her shirt a sheep, but still, I was pretty impressed.

Similarly, she is definitely making the connection between shaking the head meaning "no" and nodding meaning "yes." I didn't even realize I nodded my head much for yes, but I must because the other day when I was saying, "hmm-mm" as a yes, she started nodding. Funny. As far as shaking her head, she's been doing that for a while, but not really as a sign for no. She used to just enjoy shaking her head back and forth; I think because it felt good? But recently she has connected it to the word no, which is not a word she likes to hear, incidentally. When I say it, her face gets all scrunched up and she starts crying. Sometimes really crying, not like just a fake sob or two, like someone kicked her in the shin crying.

For example, the other day, she was standing at my knees while I sat on the couch. We were looking at a book or a toy and she leaned over and started to bite my knee, sort of idly. She's getting some new teeth, so she enjoys chomping down on most everything. I said, "No, Ila, please don't bite my knee." Well, she shook her head, "no," as I said no, then the waterworks started. I didn't even say it in an angry or upset manner, and I was already adding, "You can kiss my knee or pat my knee." (Which, if you really want to bite someone, I'm not sure kissing and patting afford the same pleasure, but I like to give options.) Anyway, she was sad for a moment, but we were still playing so the sadness was forgotten. After a minute or two she leaned over and gave my knee a lick - I think that's her version of a kiss. I said "thank you" and "oh, how nice - you gave mama's knee a kiss" and a few minutes later she did it again.

This whole incident was pretty interesting. It's sort of settling this notion I have that "no" doesn't always work that well. We're not big users of the word "no" - though when she consciously bites or kicks and it hurts, I pretty instinctively say no. The main "no" arena has been around throwing food on the ground. We've been trying to offer the option to put the food on the table or give it to us if she doesn't want it. We've said, "no, Ila don't throw the food on the floor." And that pretty much crushes her little spirit entirely. Then, she just throws food on the ground and shakes her head "no" while doing it. Nice.

Now, I'm not someone who thinks you should never use the word no. Also, I know that tears don't indicate being truly, deeply wounded. But, she has such a visceral reaction to the word no, I've decided that maybe just giving her the better options in whatever situation over and over and reinforcing and recognizing the desired behavior is probably more effective than using such a charged word with much frequency. I know, probably a gajillion developmental psychologists are rolling their eyes at the banality of my realization, but I'm living it, baby. And as my yogi tea recently informed me, "Wisdom becomes knowledge when it is personal experience."

Anyway, all these little gestures seem sort of small when I write them out, but when most of your child's life has been spent as a little grub that can't talk or indicate or express connections in anyway, it's pretty surprising when these sorts of thing start happening. She's growing up into a real, live, actual little person! Pretty remarkable.