Monday, January 21, 2013

Seventeen Months

Sixteen months (since we are just starting seventeen months) has been an amazing age. Calliope's communication skills have been transformed. She still babbles unintelligibly sometimes... but I can tell those days of magical gibberish are quickly coming to an end. More often, she asks me something, like "Bah?", cocking her head to one side quizzically.

And I ask hesitantly, "Bah?"

And she answers, "Bah."

And then I shake my head sorrowfully. Because I have no idea what my dear child is saying. But I know that she knows what she's saying, and moreover, it makes sense in her toddler way, and I know it must be so frustrating to have your person not understand you when you are working so hard to communicate.

But she bears the disappointment with good grace.

And when she's already upset, she mostly doesn't communicate verbally... but we are working on it. I keep trying.

A few days ago she woke up completely hysterical from her nap. She's been sick with what seems to be just a mild cold, but accompanied by a fever, as high as 102 yesterday. I dosed her with Motrin today before I could see how high it might get -- it was already 100.8 at 9 am.

Anyway, I tried to get her to sign or speak her wants this afternoon, but she was too far gone. She clearly didn't want to be held -- did that spineless slump thing that toddlers do when you pick them up against their will. Didn't want to nurse. Didn't want to sit on the "pah-ee." Technically didn't want to read a book... but did stand and listen as I pretended to read "Little Blue Truck" out loud to myself. Finally I put her back in the crib. Where she immediately lay down and cried some more. But never held out her arms to be picked up.

Poor little nugget.

I went back in the living room and worked out a little bit longer until her cries escalated. And finally gave more Motrin and put on her baby sign language DVD. About ten minutes later, my happy toddler regained hold of her tormented soul. Phew.

Yesterday, to thank her for her patience while I worked out we took a bath together. She loves holding on to the side of the tub and stomping determinedly in the water with one foot. She saw me soaping up, so she made the sign for soap. I gave her a dab of liquid soap and she delighted in rubbing her protuberant belly and seeing it suds up. I showed her how to wash her arms, and I scooped her up to wash her legs.

Then I said, "Calliope, wash your tushy." I stood up in the tub to demonstrate.

She watched carefully... then reached out and started to wash me instead. It was very funny and cute.

When I combed my hair in the tub, I offered her a turn with the comb. She was fascinated with combing my hair. I had combed it down over my face, to make it easier for her to reach, and she pushed her face up inside, so that we were enveloped in a little inner cave inside my hair. No one has ever been inside my hair with me. It was an odd and beautiful moment.

At the playground, she loves to climb up onto the climbing structure, and look down at me (or at least, to look at me from a height higher than she is used to). Now we have a new game where we touch our noses between the railings on these play structures and say "boop!" delightedly. Such a small thing but it's ineffably sweet.

She's definitely less cuddly now than she was even a few weeks ago. I hear that eighteen months is an age where separation anxiety surges again. I'm wondering (longingly) if that means the return of more hugs and kisses? Right now, she's just too busy and too independent for all that.

Perhaps that's why I'm having trouble taking the plunge on weaning, for all that I keep talking about it. I am definitely happy that I eliminated the night (early morning) nursing, and she can easily skip the daytime nursing, and often does, but I'm having trouble with the early morning and bedtime feedings. I don't think she will care all that much. But Mommy is a little scared of letting go.

I'm a little envious right now of all my friends making big changes in their lives -- studying in Germany, buying a big house north of Manhattan, moving to Boston. Two of my three close neighborhood friends with kids Calliope's age are leaving. It's a bummer. But I'm also envious of the excitement of change, and the possibility of re-invention. The thing is, I would never in a million years want to re-invent myself as something other than Calliope's mother. But I'm suddenly daydreaming of taking her to live and work in Africa or a year, or moving back to San Francisco, or... something. Something new and exciting. Even though I only just bought this beautiful apartment.

I know it's silly, but there it is.

My mom wanted to know how many words she knows, and for me to make a list, so here's what I can think of:


  1. here (when she hands me something, she says this, as in "here you go")
  2. go (as in "let's go!")
  3. clap ("cap")
  4. pear
  5. orange ("or")
  6. apple ("app")
  7. banana ("dada" -- my favorite of her baby words!)
  8. cracker ("quack-ah")
  9. cream cheese ("creaky")
  10. pee
  11. poop ("pooh")
  12. baby ("bay-bee" drawn out in an adorable lilt)
  13. peanut butter ("mah" -- I have no idea why)
  14. book
  15. bubbles
  16. pop (as in, what bubbles do)
  17. teeth
  18. sneeze
  19. E-I-E-I-O ("yie yie yo" -- like the song)
  20. head ("heh")
  21. belly
  22. nurse ("neh neh" -- as in, breastfeeding)
  23. potty ("pah-ee")
  24. help ("heh")
  25. all done ("elga")
  26. cheese ("gheeeeeezzzzzzzze")
  27. Jack ("Gah!" -- her buddy, whose name is now mentioned every time we leave the apartment, even to go to the trash chute three feet outside my front door)
  28. Ellie (her other buddy)
  29. Mama
  30. book 
  31. "bock bock" (what a chicken says)
  32. "Nah!" (what a cat says... in her alternate universe)
  33. woof 
  34. baaa
  35. quack
  36. neigh
  37. doggie
  38. duck
  39. Hi! (in the cutest lilting way)
  40. Bye bye
  41. Umm (said thoughtfully whenever she gains access to the open refrigerator)
  42. Up
  43. Down (only once)
  44. teeth
  45. sneeze (only once or twice)
  46. "me me me" (not sure this means something versus just being something fun to say)
  47. And finally, this isn't a word, but whenever I say, "Can you say 'Grammy'?" she answers "Hi!" and presses her hand to the side of her head, as if holding a cell phone
Signs (note that there is only one duplicate between spoken and signed words, all done)

  1. more
  2. all done
  3. water
  4. food
  5. bath (her favorite sign because she loves the song that accompanies it)
  6. shampoo
  7. soap
  8. wash hands
  9. change diaper
  10. brush teeth (a sign that I made up)
  11. tickle
  12. shirt
  13. bubbles
  14. I love you


  1. What an absolutely precious photo!

    I love the moment with your hair! I've taught Elena to wash my back for me & her ever helpful self thinks it's great!

  2. Thats such a great photo - I love the flower headband. I also get envious of friends, and their freedom to make changes. I always seriously considered moving overseas for a few years while my kids were young. My brother teaches ESL overseas (has lived in Kazakhstan, Vietnam, United Arab Emirates, and China) - he told me I could definitely get a university teaching job in the sciences and that in many countries live-in nannies are affordable and the girls could learn another language, etc. I've had to let go of that dream, first because of Fiona's illness and now because Carys needs to be in a stable english-speaking environment with early intervention services. I think part of our urge for adventure probably stems from our new responsibilities and tied-down-ness (clearly not a word but you get it). Probably a very natural reaction.