Geekamama


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Imagine this

Sunday night, we rode home from the grocery store in a bulldozer. The piles of dark-colored blankets and pillows on the floor are water, perfect for swimming around in, as is the pile of wrapping paper in the living room left over from New Year’s Day. Those Duplo constructions parked on a Rubbermaid tub in the studio? Airplanes waiting at the airport.

You can, I hope, guess which member of our family is the creative mind behind those discoveries. Our young sir Kiddo has quite an imagination spinning in that head of his. It’s endearingly entertaining. It does at times make it more challenging to figure out what he’s so enthusiastically telling us. We can’t go off contextual clues when the context is all in his head.

The tough part for us lately is holding back from asking leading questions about what he’s dreaming up. If he’s decided that his Mega Bloks tower is the airport, I don’t want to squelch that line of imagination by asking whether it’s a house. I feel a little regretful when he changes his own idea to fall in with ours. But more and more lately, he’ll reply that NO, Mom, it’s the AIRPORT. Duh.

He’s picked up my habit of making up silly little songs too. The other night at bedtime he asked me to sing the Mommy Song. “Mommy Song?” I asked, buying time while I tried to remember it. He helped me out by singing it: “Mommy and Daddy and Kiddo, Mommy and Daddy and Kiddo…” All him, ladies and gentlemen. Call to inquire about bookings.

Eventually, I’m sure, he’ll realize that he can tell us things that aren’t true. He hasn’t quite gotten to the point of lying, which is actually a developmental milestone, according to a study from the Institute of Child Study at Toronto University published last summer. Sometimes he does deliberately answer No when he knows we’re expecting a Yes answer (“Did you open the microwave when we told you not to?”) but he hasn’t yet started making up full-blown lies intending to get him out of trouble. At the rate he’s going, that’s probably not too far away, and that will be a whole ‘nother can of worms.

But until that happens, we’ll just grin silly grins when he starts telling us about how Doggie and Cookie Monster are riding on a boat and a helicopter and a train.


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Conversations with my son

I have drop-off duty every morning, taking Kiddo to daycare before going to my own job. It’s about a 25-minute commute. When Kiddo was small, I looked forward to when he could talk, envisioning how we’d have conversations about his day and other important topics. Instead, our conversations these days go something like this.


“I get in driver side!”

OK, hop in!

“I need boost.”

Oh, I think you can do it yourself–

“I need boost!”  I boost him into the car. He crawls halfway across and sits on the back bench. “I sit here.”

No, you’re not big enough yet to sit there. In the carseat.

He gets in the carseat. “Mommy sit here?” pointing to the seat next to him.

Yes, I sit there when we ride in the minivan. (his grandparents’ car)

I buckle him in, then get in the driver’s seat. As I get settled, I cough to clear my throat.

“You have a coughing.”

Yeah, I’m coughing.

“You need drink of water.”

You’re right, I should get a drink of water!

We go down the driveway and stop at the mailbox.

“My mailbox! It has a blue dot! I want a mail.”

I hand him a single-sheet election flyer. Moments later, he starts fussing.

What’s up, Kiddo? What do you need?

“I need this open!”

Aha. He’s used to getting folded flyers or BB&B catalogs that he can open up. He doesn’t get the idea that this one doesn’t open.

Oh, I see, that one is already open. Let me stop and I’ll fix it. I take the flyer, fold it in half and hand it back. Fixed. Here you go.

“Thank you.”

You’re welcome.

[Unintelligible babbling as we drive down the road – something about the water and boats pictured on the flyer.]

Are there letters on your mail?

“W. O. Bang bang bang boom boom boom.”

We get to a T intersection. I can go either way from here. I turn right. “We go this way?”

Yep, we’re going this way.

“My [unintelligible].”

Your eyes?

“My YEGS.” He’s pulled his pant legs up a few inches and is looking at his legs. “I found an orange!” pointing to the orange dinosaur on his sock.

I want my football mail.” This is a Comcast flyer with a picture of a football player on it. It’s been in the car for weeks. At the next stop I reach back and find it for him.

“Five. Nine. Four. One. I have my mail!”

Hey, look at the big truck next to us.

“That’s a big truck. A big bus! Minivan! I dropped my mail.”

Sorry, we’re driving now, I can’t get it for you.

“Ten nine eight seven six five four three two one, ZERO!”

Very good!

Slurping sounds from the backseat. He’s sucking on the collar of his sweatshirt. Shirt out of your mouth, please.

“No, shirt IN my mouth please!”

Shirt out of your mouth.

“Shirt IN my mouth.” I give up on this battle.

“In my eyes.”

There’s something in your eye? What’s in your eye?

Something else about his eyes.

OH! Is the sun in your eyes? We’ll turn soon.

I change lanes, catching the end of the rumble strips on the lane marker. “What’s that?”

That’s the edge of the road. (I tell him this every single time. He still asks every single time.)

“My PRESCHOOL!”

Yep, we’re here!


Not exactly quantum physics. I guess we’ll save that topic for kindergarten.


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Words mean things, I think

Kiddo’s turned into quite the chatterbox recently. One article I read a while back about speech milestones said that right around 2, they’ll start talking a lot and you’ll be convinced they’re speaking another language. I laughed at the time. Now I see what they meant.

He tells us his observations of everything: Mom’s coat is green, his own coat is blue and yellow, Dad’s car goes vroom vroom. He can usually articulate his needs and wants: more meat please, water please, Dad read book, light on. He’s started offering his opinions too: cheese mmm, no Mom no sing!

All of these, of course, in his own dialect of toddler-ese. I’m reasonably adept at translating it, my husband nearly as much, and I have to assume his daycare teachers are too. I think he meets the developmental milestone guideline that says by this age, strangers can understand about half of what Kiddo says. But even I have trouble parsing some of the garbled words and phrases. Our smattering of sign language helped for a while but we haven’t really kept it up, other than the basics.

When he says something that we can understand, we usually repeat it back to him so that he can hear (and hopefully pick up) the correct pronounciation. In the car this morning Kiddo said “Gar doh o-peh” and I said yep, I’m going to open the garage door. As we started down the driveway he cheerfully exclaimed “Doin don hih!” and I confirmed that’s right, we’re going down the hill! I can’t always do this–sometimes I’m occupied with things like driving or cooking, other times I simply can’t make it out.

This morning I wondered whether I was overdoing it. Imagine how you’d feel if someone was correcting ninety percent of what you said. Some might find it helpful, but I know if it were me, I might start to feel like I couldn’t do any darn thing right, and might even lose the confidence to keep trying at all. In my attempts to build up the correct use of language, am I actually tearing him down? Am I modeling, or just invalidating?

Then I said to myself, Self, you’ve been spending too much time in online parenting forums. Stop being a dork.


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Little man with a plan

We’ve noticed a change in Kiddo the past week or two.  He’s gotten more assertive about letting us know what he wants to do–and especially what he wants us to do.

For as long as he’s been able to say “No” (and boy, that feels like forever) Kiddo has had no qualms about telling us that he doesn’t want us to do something, whether it’s checking email on our cell phones or attempting to get him dressed. But he generally didn’t take the initiative to tell us what he actually did want to do. Recently, though, he’s figured out that he can show us through actions what he’s got in mind.

In the morning, when either I or my husband is trying to sleep in, Kiddo will come up and grab an arm, trying to pull us out of bed. If I’m at the kitchen table and he throws his new orange ball over the baby gate and down the stairs, he’ll lead me by the hand to where the problem is. He doesn’t wait for us to serve him anymore at mealtimes, if he can help it. If there’s food he wants and it’s within reach, he’ll simply help himself.

This is exciting to me because it tells me that he’s learned he can influence other people’s actions.  He’s long past the stage where he figured out that Mom and Dad are separate people who sometimes have different opinions than he does (for example, whether he should go to bed or not). He has frequently demonstrated that he knows he’s allowed to express his opinion. But suddenly it seems like he’s realized that he doesn’t have to wait for other people to make a decision–that he himself can decide what we should do next.

Obviously, as parents we’re going to overrule him at times, but right now I’m getting such a kick out of seeing how he asserts himself. He’s so confident in his belief that of course Mom or Dad will do what he wants, if he can just show them what it is he wants to do.

My favorite example of this so far happened a few days ago. We’ve got a regular group that gets together weekly to watch the latest episode of Survivor. We’d all taken our shoes off when we arrived at the hosts’ house, and piled them just inside the front door before heading to the viewing area at the back of the house. About 15 minutes before the end of the show, Kiddo plopped down in my lap and handed me his shoes.  I put them on him–after all, sometimes he just likes having shoes on.  He disappeared, then reappeared a few minutes later carrying my husband’s shoes.  Next he ferried mine over as well.  “Mom shoes!” he announced. When he dragged our coats down the hall to us, we finally realized what he’d been trying to tell us: it was time to go home.  Never mind that we were literally about to find out who was getting voted off! When a not-quite-two-year-old has his mind made up, there’s no such thing as a rational appeal.

On our way to the car, we realized something else as well. Every weekday morning, as we get ready to head off to work and daycare, putting on coats and shoes is the first step to heading out the door. That night, when Kiddo decided it was time to go, he didn’t whine or throw a tantrum. He simply repeated the routine he knew from home and expected it would have the same result. From his point of view, his actions were totally logical. They may not be rational quite yet, but in their own way, toddlers actually can make sense.