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A Year and a Half

Filed in:Alexandra

A Year and a Half

May 9th, 2005  · stk

Life with "The Oop"

Not a day goes by that I don't see Alex doing (or saying) something new. She is changing THAT fast. Today, while play-feeding her teddy bear in her high-chair (which I adjusted to midget-level), stuffing his face (nose and eyes) with imaginary food, she asked her bear an oft said, but never before repeated question: "Are you poo-poo?"


And for the first time, she successfully put on a pair of shoes (her new pair of velcro runners, which are too large for her and are therefore, easier to put on than her normal pair). That doesn't take away my surprise to see her clomping around the living room, the left foot on the right, right on the left and a huge 'just-eaten-the-canary', so-proud-of-herself, ear-to-ear grin on her face!

What a happy kid! What a joy to be her Dad and to be able to see her grow and develop.

Of course, part of the "new" Alex is a quickly developing sense of self awareness, which isn't always pleasant to experience. Mealtimes can be quite frustrating, as she wants to use her (relatively) new word, "NO" with nearly every statement or question. "Are you hungry Alex?" I'll ask. "No," she says. (It's been all morning since she's eaten and I know bloody well she's hungry). I put her in the high chair and she greedily gulps down her sippy cup full of milk. I feed her a hot meal (usually mixed leftover adult food, chopped into tot-sized chunks). It can't be too hot, as she has an aversion to anything warmer than tepid. I often wonder if we've been a little over-eager to teach her what "hot" means? Anyway, after a warm meal comes what we call, the "deli plate". Alex (historically) has loved the deli plate, as it is a mixture of finger food: cheese, bits of hot dog, kiwi, etc. She loves feeding herself and usually answers, "Yeah!" to the question, "Do you want a deli plate?"

All that has changed. Now it's "NO". "Do you want an orange?" "NO". "How about banana?" "NO". "Yogurt?" (her favorite) "NO". Then, she shoves her plate, glass or bowl to the edge of her tray, very nearly upending the thing onto the floor, throws her arms up in the air and says, "UP?" I honor her request, though I usually ask her if she can say, "UP, please". (She's really good with 'thank you', but 'please' has been her undoing.) "UP?" And like that, lunch is over. Frustrating, because I know she's not done, but I want her to know that saying "no" means something, that we (try) and honor her request. If I've cut up food or warmed something and she say's "NO?" to it, I just put the plastic wrap over it, put it in the fridge, knowing that it'll be the first thing she gets at her next meal (and also knowing that she'll be much hungrier, because there's no special allowances for missed meals. I'm NOT going to get into a deal where she can skip the main meal, expecting a bigger snack at snack-time.

I try to give her a choice (I'm big on choices). "Do you want an orange, or a banana?" I ask, holding one in each hand. "Banana? Yeah? or No?" "Mah'ma," she might say (which is Oop'anese for 'banana' ... don't ask). So, banana it will be, though generally just HALF a banana, because I'm not absolutely certain how much she'll eat.

She plays best after eating. She's got a box full of toys at one end of the living room and it's been interesting to watch the radius of toy distribution expand, as her mobility has increased. It used to be that all the toys were played with right there and scattered no more than three feet beyond the box. No more! Upstairs, outside, downstairs ... there's NO telling where a toy will end up. (Several have been inadvertently thrown into the trash, never to be seen again. Kinda like throwing the baby out with the bath water. We only discovered this when the trashed item was a cooking pot that was needed for dinner. We've had to erect another Oop-containment field around the garbage receptacles and keep a close eye on what she tosses.

Our house has never really been baby-proofed. We have some rubber bands around some cabinet handles, which has pretty much deterred her from opening them. She's not quite strong enough to open the fridge door, but we know that we're gonna need a velcro latch on that soon. Rachel discovered tonight that she can flip light switches on and off (we're in an old house and most of the switches are the kind that require some force to 'click' on and off). Of course, Dad has known this for a couple of days, but takes solace in the fact that Alex is too short to reach most of the switches. Alex figured out (for people keeping score at home, that's today's #3 new thing) that she CAN reach the light switch halfway up the stairs. We heard the clicking and saw the strobe from the kitchen. "Oh boy!"

Door knobs are a recent capability. Dad had to spend the better part of a morning, "Oop-proofing" Alex's bedroom door (as she was able to open the thing even WITH one of those plastic, kids-can't-grab-'em door knob covers. With the door properly latched, now the plastic deterrent is working again. Slowly, I guess, we are toddler-proofing our place, but it's generally in response to a mishap.

We have to knock on wood. Two coffee spills, one diaper cream mess and two toilet bowls filled with toilet paper, have been our only real mishaps (unless you count the near miss with the cooking pot in the trash). Not to say that there hasn't been a myriad of smaller things. Insignificant, if taken individually, but when you add them up ... you begin to realize that kids would be perfect employees of an entropy company. Perfect! Cracked CD jewel cases, torn covers and pages of books, bent glasses, broken toys, video tapes that no longer play, potted plants that have needed life-saving re-potting, torn indoor plant leaves and flowers, runs in sweaters, blankets and other clothing ... all little stuff.

I remember a television commercial where a kid was trying to put a pizza slice into the VCR and wonder how long it will be before we come upon Alex, attempting a similar experiment? Will I remember to keep my perspective, keep my cool? I hope so, but doubt it.

We've given Alex a bunch of empty CD jewel cases, but told her that the CDs on the other shelves are Mommy's and Daddy's, that they're NO to the Oop. Those few have been played with to excess and every once in a while, she'll be tempted by the fruit of another CD (or two). "NO", I say, swinging my arm in an arc, pointing to the rows of Mommy's and Daddy's CD's, "These are all NO to the Oop!" I know my message is getting through, because the other day, after Alex got into a bunch of Mommy's and Daddy's books (similar deal, different shelves), Daddy spoke rather harshly to the Oop. And the Oop repeated "NOOOO!", swinging her arm at the shelving, just like her Dad.

I'm not sure who's learning more, Oop or Daddy? Perhaps both.

We've added yet another large plastic object to our growing toddler collection (though this is one that I was eager to acquire) - a plastic toilet. Alex has shown some recent interest in the toilet (more than just a toilet paper play toy), waving "bye-bye" to the poo-poo as it slowly swirls down the vortex and heads into the alligator-infested pipes that carry it to a nearby treatment facility. In some areas, Alex just isn't learning FAST ENOUGH! She had great fun with the thing, early on, but now refuses to sit on it with her bare bum ... which kinda defeats the whole purpose, don't you think? Maybe the seat is too cold? Who knows, but she's just not quite ready for this new experience, even though Daddy is.

Each day is a challenge and brings something new. With this learning, comes independence and self-awareness. It would be a much more trying time, if the Oop said "NO" as a demand, but (for now anyway) it's more a question and she says it in such a cute way, not "NO", but more like "N'yo?"

Rachel asked Alex, the other day, "Do you want to come pick up your toys and put them in the box, Alex?" Alex looked at the toys scattered about and at the box, looked up and said, "N'yo?", turned around and walked into the dining room. You have to laugh ... and learn. Sometimes, we need to make statements, rather than offer choices! Or, if it is a choice, make it, "Which would you rather do, Oop? Pick up your toys or go have a nap?"

We'll get used to it. And as soon as we do, Alex will be challenging us in different ways, with some new-found skill or knowledge. Right when we think we have it all down, no doubt she'll move out and we'll be left with all of these skill that will just languish.

Until that time, we'll try to cherish the happy, fun and beautiful little girl that's changing right before our very eyes.

We love you Alex!

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Updated: 15-May-2005
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1.flag Malene Trondsen Comment
Hei! I am a norvegian morher of two children,, one of them: Timoteus 2yr is just like reading about your litle miracel. We also have a little baby Tobias 6mns. And it is so AWESOME to see them grow.

keep up the good work! loving your own children is your purpose in life!!!