I’ve been eating soup for lunch pretty frequently over the last couple of months, and I frequently share it with Lennie. (Plug: Progresso has some really quite yummy soups that also happen to be low-fat.) Today, I had a nice thick bowl of hearty tomato soup, and of course I shared with Lennie. It turns out that she doesn’t pronounce initial “s” sounds too well yet, and she tends to substitute a “p” sound. So when her bowl of soup started running low, she looked up at me and cooed “mato poop.” Another manifestation of this phenomenon appears when she talks about sleeping. We’ll tuck one of her dolls or her favorite stuffed animal (Jem Dog, a Boyd’s Build a Bear creation) into bed. She’ll catalog the necessary accoutrements — blanket, pillow — and then say “baby peep” or “doggy peeping.”
Her childcare impulses extend beyond the bedtime routine, though. I can’t even remember how or when it started, but at some point, it became a thing for her to sit on one of our knees when we read to her. She’d approach, turn around with her back facing us, and back slowly up until she was in a position to sit on one knee or the other to be read to, and plop down. Now it’s less of a step-by-step approach and more of a fluid motion. I usually wind up shifting her to the middle of my lap into the little nest that my crossed legs make because it’s easier to read that way. Anyway, at some point, she began to ask for books (besides saying “book, please”) by bringing a book over and saying “up on knee.” When she decides to read to her baby dolls, she’ll grab a book and a baby, sit down with the baby beside her, and say “up on knee,” trying her best to manage both a book and a baby in her lap. When she saw her cousin Kate recently, she chased her around and around with a book, all but shouting “up on knee.” (Which is only fair: When Kate was tiny upon their first or second meeting, Lennie tried to ride her like a pony; so a little sitting-upon reciprocity is in order whenever Kate’s ready to take her turn. To Lennie’s dismay, Kate was not ready for her turn during the recent visit.) When playing with Ella in the last couple of weeks, Lennie has also tried to entice her to sit on her knee and be read to, but the best that’s come of it so far has been the two of them reading “Brown Bear, Brown Bear” together.
Chasing Kate around and chanting “up on knee” is but one form of protest Lennie has engaged in of late. A couple of months ago, I made a passing reference to the fact that M’s got a mole Lennie likes to twiddle. (Since I’ve written about my bulba, I hope not to get into trouble for blogging about M’s mole.) Her love for that mole is a deep and complex thing. It’s a little weird, her obsession, but it’s also sweet. Rather than being comforted by ribbons sewn onto the edge of a well-worn blankie or by some other inanimate soft thing, she craves an outcropping of her very mother’s body. Tender as she feels about the mole, she’s downright militant about her rights to twiddle it. She’ll raise holy hell if denied, literally kicking and screaming (we predict that she’ll be of the plate-throwing ilk of fit-pitcher when she’s a little older). A couple of weeks ago, I was in the office, and I heard a faint chant coming from the bedroom. As I made my way through the house, the chant resolved into “Share mole! Share mole!” Ah, baby’s first protest. As good as she is with a crayon, it’ll be no time before she’s making signs and picketing.