Eating and Speaking and Pottying

Just to catch up a little on what Lennie’s doing lately. Her big things are eating and speaking. Although we tried months ago getting her to eat non-booby food, she just wasn’t into it. For a few weeks, if we could get 5ML (that’s one dose of an antibiotic, to give you an idea of how little volume we’re talking here) of some sort of mushed up food into her a day, we were just overjoyed. Last weekend, I was trying again to spoon feed her (she likes to hold a spoon while you feed her, incidentally, and she’s actually pretty good for brushing her teeth, which she does at bedtime and if she’s fussy while I’m brushing my teeth in preparation for going out), and when I sort of prodded at her mouth with the spoon, she opened up. It was a definite and intentional attempt to open up and accept the food I was giving her. This is a big change from her raspberrying the food in an orange or green spray with a dour look right back into my face. Over the last week, she’s really started eating very well. There’s very little fighting over it, and she just gulps down what we give her. She’s especially partial to pears.

We’ve tried some real solid foods over the last few weeks as well because she likes putting whatever she holds into her mouth. So we give her a big old chunk of Granny Smith apple or the fat end of a carrot, nothing she could swallow whole, though she manages at times to chip away at the food with her little bottom teeth until she breaks off dangerous pieces. Last night, she got a taste of mango and loved it. Loved as in when M took the mango away from her for a minute, she screamed absolute bloody murder. She had a lot more of that at lunch today.

She also likes plastic. The other day, I was playing absently with her among her ton or three of toys in the living room while M was working in the kitchen. She started coughing (not an uncommon occurrence) and was smiling at me while she coughed (also not uncommon; c’mon, coughing is funny). Then she kept coughing, and suddenly, it was more like choking, and then I looked in her mouth, and there was a piece of thin wadded up plastic from some wrapper or something jammed in the back of her throat. I started to stick my hand in to get it, but my hand’s too big. M came in and saved the day, and that, my friends, is why I’m not allowed to be alone with the baby anymore.

(That’s a lie, the being alone with the baby thing. I had three or four hours alone with her yesterday, and, it being a nice day, we resurrected our old habit of going out on the swing. Now she can sit beside me on the swing rather than just sitting on me, and it’s really a lot of fun. As had been her habit when she was brand new, she did eventually sit on me and fall asleep, and let me tell you, that’s just one of the best things in the world.)

For a couple of weeks now, Lennie’s also been trying to speak a little more coherently. She says “Ella” in that kid way where the ells are replaced with a back-of-the-throat double-U sound that typing “ewwa” doesn’t capture (hence the weird periphrastic description). And she doesn’t just say it at random. It’s usually when she’s on the floor with Ella and Ella decides she’s tired of being tugged on or bludgeoned by her chunky friend. M caught it on video the other day, and it’s a crystal clear double-U-replacing-ell pronunciation. (Before you feel too sorry for Ella for having Lennie pound on her, consider that we’ve got video from a month or two ago of Ella slowly and deliberately palming Lennie in the middle of the forehead and executing a really rather well-done floorward shove.)

Lennie also says mamamamama a lot, but she’s been doing that for a long time. I don’t think she associates it with M specifically (though of course there is an association there) but uses it more as a way of saying “something’s wrong here and I want somebody to fix it.” And that somebody is usually M. So she is thinking of M as the fixer of things gone horribly wrong, but I suspect she uses mama as a more generalized term. When she says dadadadada, of course, it’s the bright sonic reflection of a pure and deep and abiding love the likes of which no one — not Helen and Paris, not Romeo and Juliet, not Nick and Jessica — could even begin to conceive of were they orders of magnitude more capable of understanding emotion than even the most sensitive of people.

Finally, Lennie pottied in a toilet yesterday. M got this little toilet thingie months ago that looks sort of like a fancy little helmet with a piece to protect the bridge of your nose (you have to turn it upside down and put it on your head to see this, and it would really work much better with an adult-sized potty of the sort; my head, at any rate, doesn’t fit in the bowl). It’s contoured to form a pretty good seal with a baby’s butt and legs, and the idea is that you start training babies to pee in it when they’re really young. You’re not really training them to use the bathroom in it at so young an age, actually, so much as you’re trying to watch for the cues they give when they’re about to go; you’re laying the foundation for real potty training at an appropriate age. When you see these cues, you plop the baby on the toilet and reinforce the behavior with applause, money, promises of fame, and so on. Lots of people have great success at this. It’s really not that we’re jerk parents with these bizarrely unreasonable expectations that our kid could potty train a year or two before anybody else’s; it’s just a way of building an association between the sensation of pottying and the eventual accepted method and venue for pottying. So after giving up on this months ago because it just wasn’t working out, M broke the potty/helmet back out again yesterday, and we sat Lennie on it for a few minutes. I gave her a book to read while she was there (might as well give her a true representation of what the experience will be like when she’s older), and after about five minutes, we pulled her off the potty to put her diaper on her. We were really hoping for a poopy, and it was clear that that hadn’t happened (side note: M did this on the living room floor with no protection between the potty/helmet and the carpet, so I was secretly — heck, not even secretly; I was open about it — happy that there was no poopy). But when M moved the potty/helmet aside, it sloshed. There was pee in it. And on that note, I’ll end this little chronicle.

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