Saturday, July 25, 2009

Chapter 16: Miss Independent

At 16 months, Chou Chou has let us know that she is no longer a wee babe and is instead a very capable young lady. She prefers to convey this independence with stern words, such as "No!" and lovely fits that usually involve back arching and loud wailing. But most of these cherished moments are few and far between. The real good stuff happens far more often.

The good stuff? She really is more independent and it's adorable. She likes to have jobs now, to help Mum. She tries to dress herself and wants to sweep, mix, or clean, depending on what we're doing. She wants to help water the plants and fold the laundry. We also discovered she wants to wipe her own bum - this we discovered only after fight after fight on the change table. Until the other day, she was outside, bare-bummed and playing in the water tub, when she grabbed a wipe and started to wipe herself. Ah-ha! I thought. That's the problem. Sure enough, next changing I handed her a wipe while I changed her and she was happy as a clam to help out. No screaming, twisting, arching. Ah, to figure things out is a joy.

Her sign and spoken language is expanding quickly. It takes her only a day or two to learn a new sign; words take a bit longer. She's learning "sorry" (a very important one now that she's in her hitting phase...we're working on that), has learned "please" and now signs "all done" for the end of nursing, story time, bath time and dinner. It's so nice. We have no sign for hungry/eat (she won't do it for some reason) but she does take her place at the mini-table or try climbing in her booster when she's hungry. She's trying out names too. She said "Dez!" at daycare and "Kate" when our company was here. She's also starting pointing out her own eyes, nose and mouth, not just ours and said her first French word - "dents" for teeth (pronounced dehn not dent). Her animal sounds are fun: cows moo, cats meow, dogs pant and bark but just about everything else roars like a lion, according to Chou.

Chou's dancing has taken on a whole new level of head-shaking, hip wiggling, bouncing and it makes us laugh so very hard. Water and swimming are her favorite things in this heat. She loves climbing all the way to the top of the very big slide at the park and prefers the merry go round to the swings these days. Speaking of climbing, she's on everything: all chairs, tables, stairs anything higher than she should be on, she wants UP. It's fun and cute and also nerve wracking.

The toughest part for me right now is keeping her busy and safe. The balance between allowing her to learn, help, try new things, push her physical limits and keep her from getting seriously injured is not easy. I don't want to be the mother hen who hovers and constantly intervenes but when she's careening over at full tilt towards the fire pit or off a lawn chair, I get antsy.

The big news here is that we're making the move to cloth diapers - yes, we are that granola. I've read that kids in cloth potty train faster and yes, I do feel bad for all the chemical laden, non-biodegradable diapers I've thrown out. But life is about balance. We now have our own high efficiency washer and I've got the time, so why not? Hand in hand with that is the beginning of potty training, because a) you can never start too soon and b) no diapers is still better than cloth. So far we're getting really good at having Chou sit on the potty and sing potty songs. I have no visions of a potty trained 18-month old, don't worry. I am, after all, a realist.

What do you mean 16-months isn't legal? But it's so tasty! Full disclosure: yes, this bottle was very empty before it was handed to her, but what's funny is Mr. Wumpus said, "Don't give her that. The neighbours will call the authorities and they'll take her away."

I call this the Eric Lindros. Head down, charge ahead. It often lands her in trouble, minus the concussions.

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