Deixis. It’s not the plural of Deiks (or dikes or dykes). It means, basically, pointing. Words like “this,” “that,” and “there” that refer to particular things or places within their context are deictic. I mention it because Lennie has started to pick up on deixis more and more, and it’s a milestone for babies. For a while, she’s been pointing at tangible objects like the kitty cat or the ducky shower curtain rings, but she’s kicked it up a deictic notch now by pointing to things in books. We’ve got a grownup book about cats that M got when Tater was still a kitten and there was some hope left in the world that he might not be the evil cat he’s turned out to be, and Lennie likes little more than to sit on the floor and mangle the pages while pointing to all of the individual cats and inhaling each time as if surprised. She’ll do this for ten minutes at a stretch by herself and then for ten more when I join her. She often says “kitty” while pointing.
She’s also a little better now at differentiating between the kitty and the doggy, often applying the right label to each. (Side note: She doesn’t really say middle consonants yet. That is, “kitty” comes out more like “kihhy” and “doggy” more like “dohhy.” Basically, she hasn’t really gotten the hang of velar and alveo-palatal sounds in the middle of words yet, so she substitutes a sort of generic middle-mouth almost-non sound, much as ventriloquists substitute “th” for “f” and “n” for “m” to avoid moving their lips.)
She’s also started standing alone out in the middle of the floor without any help. It’s generally for just a few seconds and without any big to-do on her part (she’s very matter of fact about it, as if she’s been doing it her whole life), though the duration’s getting longer and longer. It’s not a particularly wobbly stand. She can also do a slow crouch from a standing position. While she does sometimes just plop down on her butt from a standing pose, she also frequently just bends her knees and slowly squats down until she’s on the floor. It seems very controlled and skillful to me. I’m not sure I could do as well.
When we read to her now, she likes to help flip the pages of the books. The kitty cat book aside, we try to keep her away from books with standard, flimsy pages. M sings her books to her most of the time now. There’s a Wocket in my Pocket is very adaptable to different tunes. We keep Lennie’s books and puzzles for now on a shelf below the TV in the armoire we use for an entertainment center, and these are the first toys Lennie usually seeks out. She’ll just go right over to the shelf and start pulling the books and puzzles down in spite of the fact that there’s a crate of colorful, inviting toys right beside her. This makes her bookish mommy and daddy proud.
Lennie loves windows. We keep the blinds raised enough on several windows that she can go over and have a look outside. She’ll stand there and bang on the windows with her palms, prompting me in many cases to shout in my best muted Dustin Hoffman voice, “Elaine! Elaine!” Then I shout in my best muted Abe Simpson voice, “Mrs. Bouvier! Mrs. Bouvier!” Yesterday, it was raining kihhies and dohhies, and M opened the front door so she could get a look out the storm door. I was in the office, but M reports that she loved it and was just thrilled by the rain.
And finally, she’s a dancing queen. She loves to dance. It started as a little head-bobbing when her Pooh (who crawls across the floor talking and playing different short riffs and who says, among other things, something that sounds to me like “swallow me”) would make music. Then there’s her ducky who plays tunes when you push buttons on his back. Her head bobbing at times now becomes full-throttle body bouncing. If we have music playing through the DVD player, she’ll stand up at the armoire (holding on for balance) and really shake her booty. The other day, I was in a bookstore with her in the sling and she started bouncing to the jazz they had playing. I’ve noticed that she often perks up at instrumental music with distinct notes. So, for example, at the beginning of the Statler Brothers’ “Flowers on the Wall” on the Pulp Fiction CD, when the first few single guitar notes are played, she’ll start to bounce. She dances to other music, of course, but I think that hearing a few distinct notes in succession (like what her toys tend to play) acts as kind of a cue for her.
And that’s the last couple of weeks in the life of Lennie.