Every day, Liam is more of a person, and less of a baby. It’s fascinating to watch his personality and temperament forming moment by moment.
I think what blows my mind more than anything else is his comprehension of language. When we’re looking at a book, even one he’s never seen before, if I ask him where the ball is, or the bear, or the dog, or the rabbit, he points to them right away. I can ask him “Where’s your milk?” and he’ll think for a moment, then go into another room and start looking for his cup. And then, he’ll bring it back to me. This simply astounds me, in a very-cooled-out sort of way, because I can see him listen to my words, process them, then apply them. What’s even more incredible is if I ask him “Where’s the bunny?”, for example, he’ll turn away from the picture book to go find a toy rabbit or a different book with a picture of a bunny and bring it to me. He’s thinking outside the box already.
His use of language is fun, too. He can crow like a rooster (very quietly, and at the oddest times), say “moo” when he sees a picture of a cow, and say “meow” sometimes when he sees a cat. He says “quack” when asked what ducks say. He came home from daycare at the beginning of the month and kept saying “Boo, boo, boo” to me among his gabble. HRH told me later that his caregiver got a new rabbit that day whose name is BooBoo. He can say “shoe” and “socks”, although he often switches them around when identifying them, as evidenced by rummaging through his sock drawer last week saying “shoe, shoe”. He says “peekaboo” sometimes, which kills me because it’s always paired with that very cute kind of sly sideways look around whatever he’s hiding behind. He says “cracker” very clearly and frequently, and “cheese” a lot too, which isn’t surprising considering that these are two of his favourite snacks. He’ll ask for “cup” too, if he’s thirsty, and point to his cup and say “juice” or “milk”, depending on what’s in it. (Parental problem: unless you’re paying attention, “cup” and “cat” and “car” all sort of sound alike and even “cracker” can sound like “car-car” sometimes. If you’re not in the Liam groove then he can get quite frustrated with you when you don’t get it, which is understandable seeing as how he’s being perfectly clear in his own mind, and pretty clear pronunciation-wise too.)
He points at squirrels and says the word very clearly, so clearly that he startled me when we were playing in the park this weekend. We picked up The Little Mermaid on DVD when it came out last week, and he hunts it out on our DVD shelf and brings it to us to watch. He spends a lot of time pointing at it and saying “fish!”, but he also seems to really like the ship scenes. (Yes, he’s HRH’s son, though and through.) Thomas the Tank Engine and any train are “Tss”, and he’s starting to whisper “choo, choo” to himself when he sees one. If I sing the Bob the Builder theme song while I’m making his lunch, he’ll go find the Bob DVD. If I start reciting a picture book from memory (which happens a lot, because, let’s face it, if I read something twice I’ve memorized it), he’ll go find the book and bring it to me. And every time he does it I’m stunned all over again and hug him, overwhelmed with love and amazement at how his mind is developing and how his concept of the world is solidifying. I do these things without thinking; he takes them and soars.
Speaking of books, he’s a book fiend. From his bedroom bookcase Go, Dog, Go! is his favourite these days because hey, it has dogs and cars, and the only way it could possibly be cooler is if it had trucks and cats as well. It’s closely followed by The B Book and Bears on Wheels, both of which set my teeth on edge because I loathe the Berenstain books. I hide them every once in a while when I’m sick of them, and it’s truly a case of out of sight, out of mind. From his bookshelf in the living room his favourites are The Velveteen Rabbit board book and Mouse Paint, and of course his two truck books. He’s been really good with his paper-page books in general until a couple of days ago when he bit into a page and ripped a part of it out with great determination. He’s been revving pretty high lately, so I’ve tactfully tucked his books with paper pages away for the moment.
He’s so steady on his feet now. Liam walks, runs, bends down to pick things up and straightens again without falling over. He climbs up on the couch and sits there with a book in his hands. He crouches for long periods of time looking at something on the ground. He’s sleeping well again, too, usually around twelve hours a night. And he’s definitely trying to turn his two naps into one mid-day nap, but he’s having trouble with it because his body still wants to rest mid-morning. As long as he has something to keep him busy and distracted, he can make it to lunchtime. Sometimes he’ll sleep first then eat, other times he’ll eat his lunch with his eyes fluttering shut and then go down for a nap. And if the nap isn’t long enough he’s darned cranky by four-thirtyish, which results in an early dinner and bed for him.
He’s big on giving hugs and kisses these days. I want this stage to last for ages and ages.
Liam eats pretty much anything, unless he’s not in the mood for it at that particular moment. He loves raisins, and now chews them more than he first did. I can give him a grilled cheese sandwich cut into quarters, and he’ll eat each quarter in bites, so I don’t have to tear it up any more. He’ll eat pasta or rice any time. The only things we’re holding back on are shellfish and nuts, until his body’s stronger in case he’s sensitive to them. He prefers holding whole apples and taking little bites out of them to eating apple slices, and he loves the concept of corn on the cob. And whatever he’s eating, he’ll hold out to share with us. He was loving his farm-fresh apple so much the other day that not only did he try to share it with me with an encouraging smile on his face, he kept nudging Maggie’s nose with it, wanting her to enjoy it as well. (Maggie, of course, sniffed it, as she does with anything you try to give her, but didn’t deign to taste it. More for us, I say.) He finished his Cheerios at breakfast the other day, drank the rest of the milk in the bowl, then looked at HRH and said, “All gone.” Then he said it to me when he finished his nighttime milk on Monday. I love how he’s understanding the concepts of more and gone. Now if he could just encompass soon and later, I’d be happy.
We moved his car seat to the center of the back seat, and he’s so much happier because he can see better. He can also see us, which I know makes a huge difference to him. He travels long-distance as well as we do now, which is to say that he’s good for a while then gets absolutely fed up with being in the car. He’s the only one who can get away with whining about it, but he’s saying exactly what we feel like saying ourselves. And we finally found footwear we can get on his feet! So he now has a pair of winter boots now, as well as three adorable little plaid button-down shirts to wear over t-shirts this fall. His feet are somewhere around size 6; he’s wearing 2x tops (for the torso length more than anything else); and his pants are anywhere between 18-24 mos, depending on how they’re made.
It was such glorious weather this past weekend that we took him out for the last ice cream of the season, and I got a dip cone. Once I’d bitten some of the chocolate coating off I offered him a bit of the soft-serve ice cream on a spoon, but he wanted to eat it the way I was eating it. He thrust his shoulders back and moved his chin forward, opened his mouth wide, and put his tongue out a little, then lowered his whole face forward into the ice cream. Then he kind of closed his mouth a bit and backed away, licking his lips. He was hilarious, and I wish I’d had the camera with me. Then he ran around the sunny park for a while, pointing out the squirrels and the seagulls, playing in the leaves, and sliding down the slide, every once in a while running back to me for more ice cream. It was such a perfect autumn day that I wish we could have bottled it to cheer us up in the middle of the coming winter. I always want to remember that half-hour: the sun, the smell of the leaves, the smile on Liam’s face as he ran around, the taste of the chocolate on the edges of my tongue and the feel of the wafer cone under my fingers, the laugh he laughed every time he got to the bottom of the slide, his incredulous grin as he paused in his darting headlong toddler motion to watch a sea gull walk up and stand seven feet away from him, the sound of his feet in the leaves, and the feeling of peace and contentment in my soul.