My friend Jean, who has a daughter three months older than Austen, and I were talking recently about how much fun our kids have become as they've gotten older. Matthew Baldwin described this stage as going from pet to person, and I think that's about right. It's a battle of wills sometimes (especially now that Austen has a very clear will and is not shy about exerting it), but the fact that he understands so much more means he can enjoy so much more—and we can enjoy him.
The only problems arise when we take him out in public, especially to a venue that isn't particularly kid-oriented. We got a taste of this when we brought him out to dinner with us at the new Goji Japanese restaurant up on Hamilton between 20th and 21st. We loved the food—and so did he!—but for most of the meal he refused to sit in his high chair, he squealed loudly (too loudly for the subdued venue) in both excitement and dismay, and he dumped about 12 ounces of orange juice all over me and himself. It wasn't until we were out with my friend Valerie yesterday, however, and I saw her look of slight exasperation at having to move at toddler speed (and according to toddler whims) that I realized that this is the age where Austen's becoming more fun for us and more annoying for everyone else. (Both Al and Val laughed and agreed this was probably true.)
As for developments this month, there were so many that I'm not sure I'm remembering them all. Here are the highlights:
I think I've mentioned before that Austen can enunciate—we've heard him say "go down stairs", "shoes", "hot dog", and other words and phrases really clearly once or twice—but most of the time he sounds like he's trying to invent a language with as few letters as possible. I don't know whether Al and I mumble and he's learning by example, or whether he's just lazy, but once he learns a word, he immediately sets about shortening it. A few of the words in Austen's vocabulary:
|klopelope||cantaloupe||sometimes shortened to just "lope"|
|dit-dit||cookie||*see below for what Al and I call them|
|dat dyoo||thank you|
|go||car||no matter how many times we say "car", Austen still calls it a "go"|
|mama||milk||I find this association interesting|
|choo-choo||train||also used for toy cars and toy buses|
Among the words he says clearly are "up", "down", "cat", "dog", "hi!" and "bye!", and he points out every cat, dog, horse, cow, train, and bus he sees. (He's been seeing quite a lot of trains lately, too, as Hannah's been taking him to 30th Street station to watch the commuter trains come in.) He also enjoys chatting with other kids, especially older kids. He often approaches groups of teenagers and just starts gabbling away, and his body language says, "hey, yeah, I'm one of y'all. Let's hang!" He'll lean against a wall or a railing if one is handy, trying to look casual.
Voldemort in the pantry
One of the words in Austen's vocabulary is so loaded that we try to avoid saying it around him at all. That word is "cookie", and it can make him forget any other word he knows (except "YAY!"), including "please" and "thank you". I made the mistake of buying Earth's Best Organic Letter of the Day Cookies (in the convenient 4-pack) at Costco after he recognized the box and started pointing and saying "dit-dit! dit-dit!" frantically. (He learned about these cookies at Mira's house last month.) On the plus side, the cookies are small and not too sweet, so I can give him two or three at a time without feeling too guilty (a serving size is 9, believe it or not). On the minus side, no matter how many cookies I give him, he always throws a fit when I tell him he can't have any more.
I've taken to calling cookies "those which must not be named"; Al has no patience for that many words (suddenly where Austen gets it from is becoming clear...) and just calls them Voldemorts. I'm trying to stick to "those which must not be named," as I think it'll take longer for him to catch on to what we're talking about. I'm debating about whether to just throw them out before they work any more dark magic on my kid.
Table for one
We have no idea how much Austen weighs, nor do we know how tall he is, but he's obviously growing. He moved to size 5 Huggies this month after about a week of leaking through every size 4 diaper we put on him. He's definitely sturdy, and with the size 5 diapers on, he just barely squeezes in behind the post in his high chair. We had planned on getting him a booster seat and giving the high chair away, but before we could find a booster we liked, we spent a weekend at my parents' house, where my mom set up a little wicker chair and table for him. Austen LOVED this arrangement, so when we got home we put our matching wicker chair in front of the cherry table that came with our couch, and he's been eating his meals there ever since.
Also on the food front, Austen learned how to use a fork this month. It's now his favorite utensil. He still eats just about everything, from chicken satay and turkey jerky to cantaloupe (his new favorite fruit) and clam pizza, but he's decided he no longer likes cottage cheese.
Austen has very definite opinions about what constitutes good music, and like most teenagers, he will listen to a song ad nauseum for a while before deciding that it totally sucks. I've been trying to broaden his musical horizons a bit by introducing him to some of my favorite songs in between his Music Class tunes, but most haven't stuck. When we're in the car he routinely vetoes a selection with "no, no, no!" while pointing a finger imperiously at the radio. If we don't act quickly enough to advance to the next song, he can become hysterical. Also, even though he's been listening to iTunes on the Mac since he was tiny tiny tiny, he now associates listening to the music he likes with riding in the car. He'll often point to the garage door and shout "GO! GO!" to let us know that he'd like to go out to the car and listen to music.
New nap routine
Thanks to the two-week stint at Mira's house—during which it wasn't feasible for Austen to sleep in the stroller—Austen has finally learned how to have a normal naptime. After lunch each day, Hannah removes his shoes and shorts and changes his diaper, and then she puts him down on a soft blanket in the basement playroom. She tells him it's naptime, and she waits. He'll usually talk to himself or flibble his lips for a few minutes, and then he'll conk out. It's the bedtime/naptime routine we'd always heard about, but never experienced ourselves. Now, if it would only work at bedtime.... (Actually, it almost does; I usually sing and snuggle Austen because I like the bonding time, not because it's absolutely required. When I tell him it's time to go to sleep now, he's usually out within 5 minutes.)
Who's number one?
One night when we were giving Austen a bath, he threw one of his toys in the water, splashing both of us, and then threw his hands over his head and pointed to the sky in an unmistakable gesture of victory. I tried to scold him for the toy throwing, but Al couldn't stop laughing. He went, "who's number one?", and Austen responded by repeating the gesture and sticking his tongue out, Ozzy Osbourne-style. We were like, where the hell did he get that from? It occurred to me later that it was probably from watching World Cup soccer with Hannah, an idea that was confirmed by Hannah when she came the next day.
Ever since that bath, all we have to do is say "number one", and Austen shoots a finger into the air. He'll even do it when the context is wrong (as when I was relating a story to Al the other day, and I finished the first point with, "so the fact that she even considered it is number one").
There's probably more that I'm forgetting, like the fact that Austen seems to have all his teeth now (though not all of them are in all the way), and the fact that though he likes all of his grandparents, he's partial to his grandfathers, but I don't want to keep this blog entry from getting posted any longer. As Austen would say, "bye bye, blog post!"