Sunday, December 28, 2008

Ava at one year and three months (15 months)

I'm reverting to using years and months for Ava's age now that she's over a year old because I remember being pregnant and thinking the whole countdown by weeks thing and count up in months was confusing and a crock, because no one besides expectant parents or OBGYNs count anything else like that. Clerks aren't in the checkout line harassing babyfaced consumers with, "I'm sorry, you don't look 1,092 weeks old. I'll need to see some ID for this beer purchase."

With a year and three months under her belt, she's walking, dancing, and fake reading every book she gets her hands on. She still mainly says dada, mama, doze (for nose) and uh-uh for no. As in, "Want more of this food?" "Uh-uh."

You know that saying about seeing the world through fresh eyes when you have a child? SO not true. If you really saw the world as a child sees it, you'd be freaked out by vacuums and blow dryers and see no problem eating both food and non-food items off the floor.
It's more accurate that when you have a child, you have a tiny reminder every day to really see the simple pleasures and beauty in the world that you usually overlook because you're too busy going places and doing things, and thinking about all the places you have to go and things you have to do. You're also reminded about all the small developmental milestones necessary for an infant to mature into a child.

Every week with Ava is something new, with one exception. She's still not saying a whole lot of new words, although she clearly understands a lot. A month and a half ago as she started to pull a baby wipe out of a package, I said, "Uh-uh. Can you close that?" She pushed the wipes back in and firmly closed the lid! I was shocked! I didn't really expect her to understand, but she obviously does.

After months of naming her various limbs and facial features and mine as we play and get dressed, she started pointing to the middle of my face saying, "Doze?" Yep, that's my nose. Ask
 where your ear or eye is and she'll put a tiny finger on it or in it. When asked, she points to all the correct arm, toe and leg locations and even added this doozy last week: "Eye-did?" Uh, yes, that is my eyelid. Maybe I'm easily impressed, but isn't that kind of specific for a 15 month old? I mean, what's next? "Clavicle?"

If you say "Want to brush your teeth?" She makes a rubbing motion with her finger back and forth on her teeth. She even threw me for a loop once when she responded with the back and
 forth motion, accompanied by a weird growling sound. Huh? Oh. Right. Daddy has an electrictoothbrush. "Try to keep up, Mama," her expression seemed to say.

Read the line in her favorite book "I Love You Because You're You" about "hiding behind my knee" or "cross your arms and pout" and she points to her knee and makes the corresponding arm motion. Need a light switch turned on or off? Hoist her up and she's handles it. Need a
 remote retrieved from a distant coffee table? She's all over it. J. recently remarked, "If we'd known kids were so handy, we might have gotten started sooner."

15 month old Ava with her Nana (my mom) who, along with her Grandpa, 
thinks the sun rises and falls with this little girl

She is becoming more and more physically coordinated and wants to do some things on her own, as her mental and physical development increase. I realized this on a whim after months of her protests whenever it was time to get into her car seat. Having exhausted my other options (forcing her, pleading, waiting her out), I finally asked, "Do you want to get into your buckle? I'll help you. You do that side and I'll do this one." Amazingly, she eagerly leaned into the car to strap in, fumbling with the plastic buckle as I "helped" her latch it closed. "All done!" I proclaimed as she smiled up at me proudly, patting the buckle. "Ah daah," she repeated. Apparently, she just wanted to complete the task (sort of) on her own. It's worked every time since. So I'm learning this whole "mom" thing right alongside her, as described in this quote:
"The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new." ~Rajneesh
So far, I'm much more relaxed than J. about letting her explore and try new things when we're in child proof spaces and we're around to keep her safe, even if it means she faceplants or gets an unpleasant but not too harmful surprise, like the pinch to her finger when she first closed an eyeglass case on it. As she whimpered while I helped her free her trapped digit, I said, "You have to be careful, right? It can close on you and give an owie, see?" I pointed to the small dent still visible on her finger. Ever since, she's very careful with anything that opens and closes (drawers,
 cabinets, doors), watching intently to make sure her fingers are clear as she moves it. My mom taught her "hot" by letting her feel the bowl with the ramen soup she loves. Now she says "Hoth! Hoth!" whenever we're near the stove or the water temperature warms up as we wash our hands. Learning from small mistakes before they become big ones: that's what we're here to help them with, right?

This face is a cue that A) she's tired and cranky and 
B) she not happy because we've taken something from her that we don't want her playing with. Like knives. Or C-4 plastic explosive. Or Disney characters.

But it's quickly replaced with this face, which we see A LOT thankfully

Ava clearly relishes "helping" and I can see lots of "mommy and daddy's helper" tasks on the horizon to start preparing her for household chores. I now ask her to "help empty the basket" while I fold clothes, which keeps her busy and away from the finished stacks. We've already started showing her how to pick up her toys and put them away when she's done. It's a process, but sure to be easier now than later.

Man, there's too much new stuff! She loves dancing, climbing stairs and running laps around the house. J.'s betting on basketball but she may be headed for a track career at some point. She's got hilarious facial expressions and definitely knows and conveys what she wants. We rarely have to guess whether she likes something or not, which is hugely helpful to us. The only real downside is that, regardless of how inconvenient it might be, what she usually wants is to be right at my side (or closer) while I do whatever I'm doing, whether it's cooking, feeding the dog, or telecommuting during a snowstorm.
Despite my work schedule, we still manage to reconnect each evening and weekends, and she'd still rather spend time with me playing and "helping" with whatever task is at hand, than do most anything else with anyone else, J. included, which he's accepted. I know eventually I'll fall out of vogue and J. will become the go-to guy, and we'll both be shunted aside for friends, texting, books, video games, and whatever passions she develops in the coming years, so I'm savoring this time in the top spot while it lasts. Meantime, the fun and wardrobe variety continues!

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