It is becoming increasingly apparent to us that we have a child instead of a baby, a child who can hold conversations, communicate abstract concepts, and with whom we can negotiate instead of legislate.
Among his favourite books these days are My Working Mom, Seuss’s In a People House (which he can read almost all of, so long as a parent supplies some of the connecting text), and Fish Wish. He reads the action depicted in pictures, describing what’s happening, often with snatches of actual story text interspersed. Lately he’s taken to running his finger along underneath certain words and saying the word itself. He’s not actually reading it, although it’s the first step: he’s recognising that these letters in this sequence means a particular word. Words that are mostly similar, such as ‘fish’ and ‘wish’, fascinate him. Compound words like ‘starfish’ and ‘jellyfish’ are very interesting as well.
His current favourite film is The Incredibles, although Lilo & Stitch is a close second. On Saturday mornings we sometimes allow him to watch Kids’ CBC on TV, so he has discovered and loves Arthur (which is fun because HRH worked on the show), enjoys Lunar Jim, and gets up and dances to the Doodlebops.
Among the new words in his vocabulary are enormous, cheeseburger, we, I, burgundy, too and also, sea anemone, trailer, whatever, Benjamin (as in Peter Rabbit’s cousin), and “yes, Mother” (a direct quote from the animated Tom Kitten story). If you ask him if he’d like something, he pauses for a moment then says “Ahhhhh…” as if he’s considering it, followed by a perky “okay” or “no”. ‘Please’ and ‘thank you’ are used nine out of ten times, and without prompting (including when he and his younger cousin were racing around and around his grandparents’ house and he accidentally ran into a chair: he bounced, blinked, said “I sorry!” and kept on going). If we get in the car he asks, “Listen to Cars music too, now, please, again?” Sometimes we say sure, and other times we say that we need to take turns when we’re in the car and Mama or Dada wants to listen to something else for a change.
In his world, every computer is connected to the Pixar website and can immediately play Pixar trailers. Except Grandad’s computer; it shows plane and train pictures instead.
He’s taken to going into the pantry and surveying what’s available before requesting what he wants for breakfast. Lately oatmeal with added raisins and a swirl of maple syrup is his thing, spurred early this week by seeing the new bag of oatmeal on the shelf. (He asked for the raisins with it; I offered the syrup.) He spoons the stuff up with great gusto and eats it in no time flat, only asking for parental help to chase the last bits of oatmeal around the edges of the bowl. At his grandparents’ house he fell in love with organic kamut flakes, and I can’t blame him: they’re sweeter and crispier than regular cornflakes. After warning him away from the green tomatoes in the back garden and waiting impatiently for them to ripen, I gave him half a red cherry tomato this week and he spit it back out again. Blueberries may be the most awesome part of August; peaches, not so much. I made homemade cherry popsicles and he loves them. Sauteed mushrooms over pasta with freshly grated cheese tossed with a bit of butter is the best meal ever. He has definitely discovered doughnuts, and they are the food of the gods. Chocolate milk is a huge treat when we’re out. He drinks from a regular glass at the table, and only uses his booster seat when he’s in a particularly active mood and we need him to sit in one place for a bit.
He asks for crayons by specific colour. Circles are his newest favourite thing to draw. When he colours in an outline drawn by one of us or in a colouring book he no longer scribbles randomly: he colours very specific portions of the image. Red may be his favourite colour, followed closely by blue, if the frequency of the request for a crayon of that colour is any indication.
When he leaves somewhere he says goodbye to everything he can see (and can’t see), including ‘up’ and ‘in’ and ‘out’. He played in a big pool for the first time this month with his caregiver, and after resisting it he fell in love with it. He loves to play soccer and kicks the ball around the yard, and he likes flopping over a swing on his stomach to swing back and forth while staring at the grass. Lying on our stomachs and watching ants is still a great way to spend twenty minutes or so. He’s so good at walking while holding someone’s hand now that we can walk through stores instead of locking him in a stroller or a shopping cart.
We appear to be raising a small geek (which will come as no surprise to most, I’m sure). Not only can he recognise Superman and Spiderman along with their associated logos, he appears to have absorbed the Doctor Who revival as well. This will amuse PDaughter:
GRANDMA: [speaking of her sister] … so I made her go see the doctor
LIAM: The Doctor!
GRANDMA: Yes, Liam. Do you like your doctor?
LIAM: The Doctor! Sonic!
(As in, a sonic screwdriver. The one used by Doctor Who. Yeah. Grandma was mildly baffled.)
He “sings” along to songs on movie soundtracks, echoing repeated or random phrases in the song, and inserting movie dialogue at the appropriate places. When he hears tracks from a film score he can describe what’s going on in the film at that time, making him the only person I know who can visualise and identify musical cues better than I can.
He wears size 3T shirts, 2T pants, size 5 diapers, and size 3/4T pullups. Toilet training is going so well that I bought him his first set of underwear last week, which he wears with great pride and excitement in the late afternoons and evenings. He’s barely fitting into his size 6 1/2 shoes, and has worn through the toes of his racecar sneakers. Good thing we have a pair of size 7 sneakers in the wings.
Maybe it’s because our friends all have bright kids who are being raised in a similar fashion, but to me Liam doesn’t seem any different from them developmentally. And yet I’m told by people who work with kids not associated with our circle of friends that Liam is unlike other children his age. Whatever. He’s Liam to us. He is normal for who he is. We read to him; we communicate basic values like responsibility and sharing and turns and respect and courtesy; we insist on a regular early bedtime, naps, and toothbrushing; we share time with him and ask questions and talk to him. And if that makes him unlike the average kid, then I don’t know that it’s the kid in question who’s different, or the parents.