It seems as if it’s been a while since I did a Lennie update. Even this week, she seems to have learned so many new things that I know I’ll one day regret not having catalogued them all as soon as they’ve happened.
One of my very favorite things she does now is to scrunch her face (often when given the command “Scrunch”). A scrunch includes the squinting of the eyes and either the pursing of the lips or the pooching out of the lower lip. It adds to her impishness. I don’t have a good picture handy or that’d be the image displayed here.
She’s been singing for a while, saying “la la la” along with M. Lately she’s picked up hand motions to go with the “Wheels on the Bus” song. She’ll raise and lower her arms for “up and down,” she’ll sort of rotate her hands around one another for “round and round,” and she’ll put her finger to her lips for “shh shh shh.” Just tonight, she started doing the side-to-side hand motion for “swish swish swish.”
Lennie loves birds. If she spots one outside, she grins and enthusiastically points to the sky, saying “boolrh,” which is her rendition of “bird.” If you then ask her what a bird says, she’ll sometimes say “twee twee twee.” She’s also gotten pretty good at pointing birds out in books. She’s known ducks as ducks for a long time and has recently picked up chicken (which says “bock bock bock”), but she doesn’t recognize either of these as birds as far as I’ve seen. She recognizes pigs now, calling them “pink pigs,” which comes out more like “pubpub,” but she’s consistent about it, so we know what she means. When she spots a kangaroo or a horse in one of her books, she identifies them as dogs, which is pretty far off but which isn’t really terribly bad. When she sees the various monkeys in her books, she calls them “mama.” This is no reflection on M but is an example of Lennie’s difficulty pronouncing second syllables different from their first syllables; it’s much the same as how she still says “bah-bah” for “baby.” It’s slightly off topic, but she recognizes flowers pretty well and has even identified abstract paintings of flowers as flowers.
She loves to dance (as she always has). Sometimes in the car, she’ll rock her whole little body side to side in her seat in much the same fashion that Ray Charles often rocked on his piano bench. Sometimes she does this weird little sumo maneuver (not in a dancing context necessarily) in which she just stomps very hard in place. It’s not an angry stomp or anything; she’s just trying out the old legs. Other moves she’s gotten good at include kissing, hugging, and patting babies, waving like the queen (or actually more like the queen doing sort of a palm-up wave), pushing carts in pretty much any store we go to, asking to be picked up or lifted into a chair (saying “up” with a very plosive “p”), and shaking her head no pretty vehemently.
Speaking of saying “no,” she’s learned to call my laptop a “no,” and she’s fond of approaching it with an outstretched finger, looking at me sort of indignantly, and saying “noonh.”
She loves to sit in the chair I got her before she was born, and she also likes to be lifted into the glider and be rocked. Sometimes she’ll try to rock herself. Last night, she got up into my chair unassisted and promptly climbed over toward the end table to see what havoc she could wreak there.
Lennie’s picked up some body parts this week. She’s known “nose” for a long time and for some reason always points at the sheep’s nose in one of her books. But she can identify her nose and noses on other people and animals and dolls. This week, she’s learned eye, cheek, chin, and ears, though I’m not sure she’s consistent about identifying all of them.
She can now drink out of an uncovered cup and loves drinking from a straw, always with supervision, of course. She likes ice cube slivers, and when we give her orange juice, she lets just the teensiest taste in and then backs away and grins because it’s so tangy. She likes foods with strong flavors. Onions and dill pickles are near the top of the list. She also likes salami and swiss cheese.
Every day, I find myself begging her for kisses. I tried to bribe her tonight, offering a dollar per kiss. She gives them away pretty freely to M and to the dog. She’ll also kiss Uncle Andy when he taps his cheek. Sometimes she’ll then tap her own cheek in response. It’s very rare for her to kiss me, less rare for her to pat my back.
Some saps say that the day you first meet your child is among the happiest days of your life. For me, it wasn’t. I was running on empty, having gotten very little sleep. M had hemorrhaged during an unplanned C-section. I was overwhelmed and unsure of the precise nature of my feelings toward this little loud squirmy baby. Oh, I knew I’d love her and that I was embarking on a fun trip, but I couldn’t have known how fun it in fact is to be a parent. There is absolutely nothing better in the world than watching your happy baby. It makes the frog in my ribcage jump for joy to see Lennie laughing, discovering things, scrunching her face, communicating. When she’s tender with me, offering the rare kiss or other show of affection, there’s simply no describing how it feels.