Liam’s handle on language has taken yet another leap. I was sitting next to the boy while we watched a DVD the other week and realized that I was having a full-blown conversation with my son about the Muppets, complete with analysis of humour and use of similes, and we were both taking it for granted. I am just blown away by how communication evolves over the first three years.
The Muppets are very big in our house these days. He loves the opening sequence, dancing and singing along here and there, always joining in for the final line, raising his hands up in the air and saying “SHOOOOOW!” with all the Muppets on-screen. His favourite skit is Pigs In Space, which he calls “Piggies in the Spaceship”. He loves Robin and Miss Piggy, and is quite fond of Kermit. He impressed me the other night when the news anchor Muppet came on and started talking. Liam narrowed his eyes at the screen and said, “That Kermit.” I tried to explain that the person providing the newscaster’s voice was the same person who did Kermit’s voice, but it went right over his head or out into left field or something, and understandably so: Muppets are Muppets. When kids talk to them in person, they talk to the Muppet, not the person standing there holding it. Of course the puppets talk on their own; a Muppeteer is an alien concept. So I rationalized it by saying that the news anchor was Kermit in disguise. Liam looked at me, opened his mouth in a silent “Ah!” as if he had been initiated into a deep adult secret, and was satisfied.
One of the bonus features on the second season DVD set is the Weezer video of “Keep Fishing” that features some of the Muppet cast. I’d heard about the video when it was originally released in 2002 but haven’t seen it until now. Liam stood with his mouth open, his eyes riveted to the screen as the band moved from backstage at the Muppet theatre to play on the stage itself. He extended his hand in my direction, not moving his eyes from the band playing with the Muppets on-screen. “I need my cello,” he said. I got the viola out for him, and as he wouldn’t take his eyes off the action on the television we eased him into a sitting position, set it up in his lap, leaned it against his shoulder, and put the bow in his right hand. He played his cello along with the band for the rest of the video. It was terrific to see.
Lately he has really gotten into playing Hide and Seek. The only problem is that he gets so excited when he hides that when whoever is seeking him narrates their search, he responds to it. “Are you in the… bedroom?” I will say, and “Noooo!” he will exclaim from the bathroom. HRH was trying to straighten out the problem the other night and had a great time chuckling at the boy when they hid in the bathroom together, Liam bouncing up and down, hands over his mouth to keep himself quiet, and eyes wide, nearly bursting with excitement as I searched. His play has developed into a fascinating display of imagination and storytelling. Trains meet and converse and part, cars encounter difficulties and challenges and work through them. Sometimes he provides all the voices, and other times he narrates what is happening to himself or to other toys. And he’s engaging in very obvious pretending now. “Maggie is the white Totoro!” he will say. “Let’s follow her! Oh no, we can’t see her! Now she under the house!” (Poor Maggie gets cast as a wide variety of things, some of them inanimate, and is really doing a heroic job of keeping up with the exuberance of a two and a half year old who is now coordinated enough to pick her up and lug her around.) One of his current special possessions is a blue velveteen ring box that I found while clearing out a closet. “I can have this?” he said. Later I found it under the chesterfield and was going to throw it out when he grabbed it from me and said, “No, you can’t! That my game!” The implication was clear: If you won’t let me play with your Nintendo DS, I’ll make my own game, thank you very much. So we coloured dots with markers inside for buttons, and he sits on the sofa and presses them, looking at the upper ‘screen’. Over the past month it has also evolved to be his ‘computer’. It sits on his chest of drawers.
His singing of the alphabet song has become very clear, and is evidently making an impact. When he stands at the fridge door and plays with the magnetic letters he moves the A up then says, “And here the letter B!” He knows the B comes after the A. The only problem is he grabs any letter that has a vaguely similar structure such as an E, or a K, or an R. There are also tremendous potty advances being made which I haven’t been talking about for fear of jinxing things. Many are the stickers applied to weekly charts, many are the high fives. And he counted to twenty-one today, clearly and correctly, which is the highest I’ve ever heard him count.
His current favourite books are the Frog and Toad books by Arnold Lobel. I bought Frog and Toad All Year last week because I saw it in the little local book store and remembered loving it as a child. I was also getting tired of reading the same books over and over at bedtime. It enchanted Liam, who somehow suddenly knew every chapter title and could ask for them out of sequence, so I picked up two more this weekend on our Saturday runabout and gave him one that night, and the other is aside for a rainy day.
As a treat I bought blackberries at the beginning of February, intending to use them in an Imbolc ritual. He ate every single one of them over the course of the day. He was enjoying them so much that I couldn’t bring myself to tell him that he couldn’t have any more, especially when he asked for them so nicely. I figure the obvious joy he felt in eating them was a suitable offering to Brid instead. ‘Lola bars’ are also high on his list of yummy food, and I introduced sunflower seeds to him two days ago as well. He asked me today if they would grow if he planted them, “my seeds, my seeds that I put in my mouth?”
Liam can be such a funny little thing. When HRH wore an old paint-spotted shirt last weekend he got very upset: “Dada, it dirty. We clean it? We clean it for you?” With all the winter storms we’ve been having there has been major snow removal going on (although not anywhere near the frequency at which it ought to be happening), and he’s glued to the front window when the giant snowblowers and dump trucks inch down the street. He renamed his toy excavator ‘the snowblower’ and pushes it around the floor behind the matching dump truck, the scoop angled up over the dump truck like the snowblower does. He watched our next-door neighbour, who uses his big red pick-up truck for snow removal, clear our immediate neighbour’s driveway one day. “See how Pierre uses his truck to plough the snow?” HRH said. “Yes,” said Liam, watching the red truck manoeuvre in and out of the driveway. Then: “I have a truck?” “When you’re older,” said HRH, somehow keeping a straight face.
Something HRH and I started ages ago was the family hug, where Liam would nestle with one parent and the other parent would hug both. Two weeks ago HRH was saying goodnight as Liam and I were settling down for a bedtime story when Liam bounced up and said, “Family hug!” Tenderly he put one arm around my neck and the other arm around HRH’s, and we put our arms around one another and him as well, and our hearts nearly burst. We’re doing okay with this kid. He’s a good one. And we can’t wait to see how he discovers other wonderful things in the coming months and years.