Ali turned 18 months three days ago. It feels like a big milestone. Halfway between an infant and a big, bad two-year-old. His vocabulary seems to grow by a word a day sometimes, and he repeats things often. My favorite is to say to him, “Why you so cute?” And he’ll say back, “Wiye so cuyt?”
It’s so cute 😀
He’s sleeping well again, so thank God for that, but he’s still getting more “toddlery” — more picky and temperamental. He knows what he wants, and he wants it. Still overwhelmingly sunny and sweet but with definite “toddlery” moments. Redirection still works sometimes, or just saying no and sticking with it until he gives up. He’s still obsessed with scissors, which we use to open the baby gate to the kitchen. (He figured out how to trip the latch with his fingers, so we had to tighten the gate until his fingers didn’t fit in the gap where the latch is, so now we need something very slim to open it — the regular button has never worked.) Every now and then I give in and give them to him for a few seconds, and he always tries to figure out how to open the gate with them. So far he can’t even quite line the scissors up enough to get them into the gap.
I finally broke down and got him a “learning tower” — such a pretentious name for a little gated step-stool. I can’t believe this hunk of plastic cost $70, but I couldn’t find a used one I liked and I had a feeling it’d be worth it despite the inflated price. Sure enough, Ali loves it. Every time he goes in the kitchen now, he walks right over to it and clambers in. He loves being up on my level seeing what’s going on. It also doubles as a place for him to eat snacks so if he drops or throws things, it’s on a laminate floor instead of over carpet.
Of course he wants to get into everything all the time, so one by one I’ve had to move everything on the counter out of his reach that I didn’t want him getting into. And he’s still figured out how to bang his butt against the back of the tower to move it a few inches away from the counter so that he can reach into the drawers with his sticky or slimy hands. I guess I’ll have to clean those out and replace them with baby-friendly stuff. I also can’t leave him there unattended (he may slide over to the knife drawer at some point, or bang it too hard and tip over and crash, and he climbed all the way up onto the counter once), so it’s not like I can use it while I’m cooking or washing dishes. At least not yet. Still a worthy investment for sure.
I love how observant he is. There are so many things we, as adults, have learned to screen out, but Ali notices everything. If he suddenly barks like a dog, I look to see where the dog is that he’s seen, or strain to hear the distant barking he picked up. If he says “Mep!” I listen for the sound of an airplane and look to see if and where he’s pointing. (I don’t know why his word for airplane is ‘mep.’) If he makes the elephant trumpeting noise and raises his little arm like a trunk, I look around to see where on earth he’s spotted an elephant. (More likely a picture of an elephant, a stuffed elephant, or a random decorative wicker elephant.) If he just seems randomly agitated, I turn on my ears and usually hear a distant weed eater or something that my brain had completely filtered out.
UPDATE Oct 19 (my grandma’s birthay):
He did something amazing the other day. He came up to me and pointed to his diaper and said “Poop.” Usually this means he pooped, but sometimes it just means he wants immediate attention. I looked, no poop, and said, “I don’t see any poop, baby.” He was wet, though, so I said, “You want a new diaper?” He said “Eah!” (like “yeah” without the “y,” his current version of yes) and nodded enthusiastically, then walked right to his changing pad and lay down. He had never done that before.
It’s often a bit of a battle. I have to lead him there, and then often he wants to sit up and see what his poop looks like before I’m done cleaning his butt. I can’t really hold up the diaper and show him while he’s lying down, for fear of dropping a turd on his head. And I can’t let him sit up on his dirty bum and dirty either the changing pad or the diaper. Sometimes I resort to getting into a deep lunge and holding his shoulder down with my foot.
He can also somersault on his own now with no help from us. He’s even learned to do it so that he doesn’t roll straight off the mattress or into a wall. Quite the little acrobat. He’s fascinated with the movies Coco and Bolt. He’s always pointing at the TV screen and barking to ask for Bolt, and when we watch Coco, he tries to sing along with his high-pitched sing-song noises. He also immediately recognizes the guitar in his word book since watching it. Ahmed thinks he’s going to be a musician.
It’s fascinating to see him learn to ignore things as “unimportant” or “peripheral” when he used to see everything as equally curious, marvelous, important. An acorn was a revelation. He wanted to taste every stone he picked up. A random piece of trash was more grist for curiosity and sensory experience. What we saw as “the river path” was meaningless to him. It was all just ground to explore.
He still has a long way to go to develop something close to our adult filters, the way we judge and sort everything according to category and perceived value instead of taking it all in as one fascinating sensory experience. His brain will inevitably be pruned with the years and his delightful technicolor world will become more like ours.
I can see it already in his preferences for certain foods and toys (he’s super attached to his bear lovey now, apparently named “Bear”), his displeasure when we aren’t paying exactly as much attention to him as he wants (he threw a book at my head today and injured my eye socket bone — I was holding the book that we’d read a million times for him but kind of listening to a Youtube video, and he didn’t like that one bit — he grabbed the book and whipped around and nailed me with it), his frustration when we say no to a dangerous or destructive whim. He’s learning to categorize things as good or bad, desirable or not. It’s part of growing up, but it’s also a bit sad. He’s learning to see the world more like we do, when we could probably sometimes do well to learn to see the world more like he does.
But I’m so tired sometimes with the pregnancy insomnia and managing a house and cleaning up after him endlessly and trying to learn or enjoy or accomplish SOMETHING now and then, it’s hard not to just want him to “fall in line.” And then feel really bad for that.
I think I could use a break. Good thing a three-day meditation retreat (with my mom) is coming up at the end of the month. I’ll miss Ali, but some time away (first time ever) will be great for both of us I think. He deserves a less burned out mama.
A few recent pics: