Thursday, June 01, 2006

0 to 2.5 years in 3.4 seconds

As we crawl toward that all-exciting one year mark with Miss Earlygirl, a strange thing is happening. She's turning into a two-year old. Most of the time she's a happy-go-lucky kid, but when she sees something she wants but can't have, she's livid. She reaches out her arm toward the desired object, and when it is not delivered into her sweaty palm, she growls and whines.

This all comes on the heels of her increasing comfort with and enjoyment of her first word. (Did I mention she says "cup" about five million times a day? Very charming, if a bit repetitive.) "Cup" can mean either "I'd like some water in a cup please" or "oh look, there is a cup in the room." When no cup is around, the meaning is more obvious, but when we are in the kitchen things get a little more foggy for me. Needless to say, I spend a lot of time offering her a cup of water, only to have her shake her head at me. ("Mom the village idiot apparently has not grasped that I was merely informing her that there is a cup in the general vicinity. Fools, fools these parents of mine!")

So yes, the point of this whole cup digression? The point is, Ada can now tell us what she wants, so long as what she wants comes in a cup. Anything else she desires must be identified by extending her arm toward it and grunting meaningfully. The problem is not that I don't know what she is pointing at; it is usually pretty clear that she'd like the television remote, my glasses, the hot mug of coffee I'm constantly moving away from her grasp. No, the problem is that sometimes I won't give her one of the aforementioned items, or some other item that could hurt her, that she'd destroy in seconds or that I just might want to keep her from because I am a mean, mean mommy. My refusal to give in to her every demand is frustrating Ada. "You clearly understand me, because you give me the cup when I ask for it," she's thinking, "so what is the problem here?"

The problem (other than that I am a mean, mean mommy) is that Ada's desires have outpaced her ability to express them and to understand why they might not always be fulfilled. Talking about it at dinner, Chris and I agreed that it was probably time to work on some more signs with Ada. Right now she understands "change" (as in diaper) and will do "more" (as in "isn't it time you fed me now?"). We've been working on "thank you" and "gentle", but those are going to take some time. We have some others in regular rotation (bath, book) but this may be the time to go back to "milk" and a few others. Unfortunately for the toddler-in-training, we aren't focusing in on "gimme" or, as Chris suggested, a sign that allows her to express her frustration with her uncooperative parents.

8 comments:

  1. it was around that phase that i taught henry the sign for please. on one hand it just increased the frustration- i just pointed at what i want or grunted at it AND said please damn it! but, it also calmed him down a little and his requests/demands took on a nicer tone (for him and me). he smiled when he signed please instead of just screaming. it didn't take long and has continued to serve us well.

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  2. That is a great idea. If she's going to be a crab-apple, at least she can be a polite one. Thanks!

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  3. I'm all for the signing. It worked well with Q. And I don't even negotiate with her if she's crabby or whiny or crying. It shuts her up pretty fast - however, this only started working in the last few months (she's almost 2)...

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  4. good luck with all of it... and don't be discouraged if she doesn't pick up the signs you're teaching her right away. They're sneaky, these little ones: El Niño took six months to learn how to sign apple but only one week to learn how to sign cookie and cracker (proving once again that he is MY child, in every way). And at almost 2yo, he still won't sign please unless I do it first. BUT, he learned help in just one day!

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  5. Ah yes the ability to form syllables is way too frustrating. Telecommunication is the way to go. I, of course, am still working on that!

    Tonight, at a Japanese restaurant, it took only seconds for Buttercup to reach out and grab my teacup that had been placed far out of grasp. She has surprisingly long arms! Thank goodness for my super mommy speed of removal of dangerous objects.

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  6. Ha! I was expecting a different sign involving only one finger! Just kidding. I love the name Ada. The one year old b-day is such a big milestone! How fun!

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  7. My boys are 2 now, but with limited vocabulary (actually part of the problem is a lot of their words all sound the same to me), so I end up with a lot of pointing to things. I hadn't thought of doing more signing, but maybe I'll have to try that as well. We did a few words when they were smaller before they could talk at all and they caught on pretty well. Good luck, lineargirl.

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