Saturday, March 08, 2008

Taming monkeys

Some days I feel like I'm trying to coax the inner human out of a little monkey. Toddlers are often referred to as little primates, and for good reason. They imitate everything you do, communicate through excited hand gestures and utterances, throw food (and sometimes poop, though Dan hasn't done this yet), and climb on anything they can.

Dan is still pre-verbal, but is starting to imitate what we say, even if it is mostly the inflection of our voice that he's copying. At the doctor's office this week, we were doing a little nursery rhyme called "Trot, trot to Boston" and he said "trot, trot" pretty clearly. Even when we don't think he's listening, he'll come out with a word we've just said. It's finally time to watch my mouth. The last thing I need is a little monkey climbing on the furniture saying crap and damn. His favorite word is "Utto" right now. And he says it mostly after he's intentionally thrown something from his high chair. He's also working on walking down the stairs like the adults. He can go downstairs just holding one of our hands. And the climbing ... my heart is often in my throat as I enter a room and finding him standing on the sofa or the hearth or trying to climb the bookshelves or hanging from the edge of the counter.

He studies us both. Dan watches us get ready for work, clean the kitchen, vacuum the floors. If you give him a napkin, he'll wipe his high chair tray. If he sees us vacuuming, he'll go get his little push toy and roll it back and forth like it's a vacuum. When we were brushing our teeth last night, he started using a hair brush to brush his teeth. And he's quite the little dancer. Whenever he wants to hear music, he just grins and bounces. At first, he had only one tempo. But we've been listening to some slow-grooves, like Marvin Gaye, lately and he's learning how to move to slower tempos.

Dan is constantly moving, until he suddenly decides to sit and play quietly for a half hour. It's so rare that last night, Jim just watched him and was afraid to move, fearing any sudden movement would break the spell. I just love getting a hold of him in the early evening when he's got that cool, slightly moist texture on his arms and chubby little hands from a day of constant activity. He sighs contentedly and then squirms out of my arms once again.

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