At the doctor’s on Tuesday Liam was measured standing up (tall instead of long!) and weighed on the big people’s scale for the first time. He kept crouching down to put his hand on the dial, saying “Car!” because it looked like an odometer. Yes, Liam goes fast — why walk when you can run? — and grows fast, too: he has hit the 75% percentile in everything and shows no sign in slowing down. He’s 84.5 cm tall, and 13 kg (or 33-something inches and 28 lbs), so anyone who claims that they can actually see him grow from week to week may well not be engaging in hyperbole. Goodness knows that I’ve had to go through his clothes for the second time in a month and remove yet another round of stuff that doesn’t fit, and his pant legs no longer need to be turned up as much. Also, two sets of brand new pyjamas don’t fit properly, one of them a Christmas gift that he just tried on. It’s the tops: size 2 tops in flannel that don’t stretch are just too small to fit over his shoulders and get onto the second arm. (I may cut slits up the sides and hem them, or I may just find him a big floppy t-shirt to wear over the pyjama bottoms and put the tops away.) The fourth and final canine tooth made its appearance around New Year’s Eve, so he’s all on schedule there.
We’ve begun dispensing with the snap-on tray for the booster seat, and pulling him right up to the table instead. He feels much more grown-up, and seems to eat accordingly. I try to give him meals on real plates or bowls too. Last week when I called him for dinner he pulled a regular chair out and scrambled up, so I let him sit in a real grown-up chair at the grown-up table, and it was mostly okay. The lack of straps holding him in meant that when he leaned over to share food with Maggie there was nothing preventing him from falling right over, though, and he discovered that he could turn around and put his legs through the posts in the back. But other than the ongoing attempt to convince us to allow him to sit in a grown-up chair, it’s all good. He handles a fork very well, although half the time he picks food up in his free hand to put it on the fork before fitting it into his mouth. New foods include gravy, chicken nuggets, ham, prime rib (!), Yorkshire pudding, Jell-O, clementine oranges, penne, mushrooms, rotisserie chicken, coleslaw, and lots of other stuff. He eats any cheese I hand to him. In fact, if I grate cheese on something he’s more likely to eat it, and now it seems that gravy makes everything cool too. One wonders what he would do if I gave him poutine: potatoes, gravy, and cheese are three of his most favourite things. I think he’d die of sheer bliss.
Liam is currently obssessed with the new book Not A Box by Antoinette Portis, a gift from t! and Jan this Christmas. It’s already got fingerprints and grease stains on it. He absolutely loves it, and asks for it by saying “box, box, box”. On the first pages, when asked what it’s doing in a cardboard box, the bunny says “It’s not a box”, and Liam says “Car!”, which is what the bunny is imagining the cardboard box to be. This is where I heard ‘mountain’ for the first time, too (‘mouman’), and ‘notta’ and ‘box’. (He likes the penguin book Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers too, but he loses interest when they hit the high seas and slides off my lap to go find Not A Box instead, thus saving me from the inevitable sniffles and tears that I fight back every time I read Lost and Found.) He’s very good with paper pages, although when he gets terribly excited they do run the risk of being crumpled a bit.
Speaking of cardboard boxes: he is in love with the expanded cardboard box house HRH made for him. It’s getting wobbly because of the beating it’s taking from Liam trying to drag both parents inside at the same time, but it’s well-loved. He throws himself inside it and falls on top of the Thomas pillow that Matthieu, Karine, and Adam gave him for Christmas, and giggles infectiously. Toys collect there. The cats quite like it as well. We tore the house apart looking for Nix the other night, and just as we were giving up we finally caught a glint of light reflecting through the window from two tiny emerald eyes inside the playhouse, where she was perched on the pillow, all tucked up into a little loaf of black cat. Maggie plays with cracker crumbs and random small toys inside it. Cricket has, I think, been traumatized by the episode where Liam found her hiding inside it and tried to tackle her. (Well, everything else inside the playhouse is a toy; why isn’t she?) She shot out through one of the windows and we didn’t see her for the rest of the day.
The vocabulary has hit 85-ish words, and those are just the ones we remember and have written down. Last week there was ‘castle’, ‘photo’, ‘broccoli’, ‘omelette’, and ‘doctor’, among others. He doesn’t say colours yet (other than ‘yellow’ for some reason), but if asked where the red or green or blue car is, for example, his finger immediately shoots out and he points to it. He can say numbers one through three if we point to things in a line, with the added bonus of being able to say ‘seven’, but has no idea that they actually indicate an amount. ‘Airplane’ is accompanied by pointing upwards or out a window. He surprised HRH last night by looking up while being taken out of the car and saying “Stars!”. It was cold and clear, and yes, there were lots of stars. “You’re going to have to start messaging me with a list of the new words he says every day, so that I can keep up,” HRH said. This month also saw the first three-syllable words begin to show up in the lexicon.
He climbs on everything. It’s great to see him flop onto the chesterfield and pull himself up to sit down. It’s not so great to see him standing or bouncing on it, or climbing the bookcases, or standing on the coffeetable. This is the child with a penchant for head trauma, after all. He can go for walks, real walks, but it’s always a good idea to have the stroller or someone with strong arms handy. Also, pack lots of patience, because there are lots of side trips and close inspections of hedges and cracks in the sidewalk. He may finally have understood what mittens are for, after pulling them off in the cold car yesterday morning and complaining “cold!’ all the way to the caregiver. They stayed on today.
Every day I marvel even more at how capable he is at communicating, moving, playing, and eating. Every day he’s a little different, a little more advanced than he was the day before. Now he can use words to tell us if he doesn’t like something, we can offer him a choice between two things (no more open questions like “What do you feel like eating?” because “Cracker!” is not an acceptable meal), he can show us things, ask us things, and we can give him answers that he can understand. We can tell him what something is, and he will remember the word the next day or week and come out with it in a different situation, showing us that he can make a connection between two similar objects or actions. He walks around, carries things, moves things from one place to another, and has a very definite plan about it all. We can watch him think something through, and put down something he’s holding to pick up something else that he wants more (or, as he did the other day, take a book in his mouth to free up one hand to take a cracker, as he was carrying a truck that he didn’t want to relinquish in the other and wasn’t about to leave the book behind). Watching him problem-solve is an incredible experience.
Liam enjoys simple things, too, like watching snow, or turning a wooden train over and over to see how it looks from every angle, or simply leaning his cheek against one of the cats. He still tries to feed toys, and pictures in books, and all of us. Lots of tidying and sweeping and wiping up of crumbs and other boggan-like activity still going on, too. He likes to watch incense smoke as it spirals up in the air. He sometimes asks to be picked up so that he can point and talk to the deity statues — hello God, hello Goddess. Liam wanted to know what I was doing a week ago on the day of the full moon as I lit a candle at the altar, so I picked him up and explained that we were lighting a candle for the Goddess to say happy full moon day to her. He thought about it, then nodded very definitely and held out a slice of mandarin orange he had been about to eat. I put it on the altar for him and gave him a great big kiss and hug.
He’s a good boy.
Addendum: When we mention the word ‘chicken’, he says “bock bock.” “Liam would you like a chicken nugget?” “Bock bock.” “Do you think we should make some chicken fajitas?” “Bock bock.” “Maybe we’ll roast a chicken –” “Bock bock.” “– and make some mashed potatoes to drown in gravy, and something chocolatey for dessert, how does that sound? With some nice shiraz, or maybe a chardonnay?” “Yes. [Insert vigorous nodding here.] Bock bock.” And this clucking is uttered almost sotto voce. It figures: he finally understands that when one roars like a lion one really ought to do it loudly, and the newest animal sound to join the repertoire replaces it in the whispered category.