Putting the Pieces Together

Lennie’s had seven or eight wooden puzzles for months and months now. A couple of them she can probably boast to have had for well over a year, and it’s been long enough since we bought her one that I can’t remember when we did so. She never really mastered the art of the puzzle. She got to where she would get a piece in the right place but couldn’t get it rotated around so that it would drop into its recess in the puzzle board. Eventually, she lost interest, and we shifted the puzzles out of the rotation of the toys we keep out in plain view. Yesterday, M got them back out, and Lennie took right to them. Her puzzle-working skills flourished during the puzzles’ hibernation, and she now works them almost instantaneously and with no trouble. This morning, we were lying around having family morning time, and she slid out of bed, went into the den to get a puzzle, brought it back, went back into the den to grab a few of the pieces, and had us bring the puzzle up into bed so she could play with it. Tonight, I dumped the pieces to two of her animal puzzles on the floor in a promiscuous heap, and she put both of them back together in short order simultaneously. Somehow, she seemed to know intuitively which pieces went to which puzzle. The two we were working are of slightly different thicknesses (I’m talking milimeters) but are otherwise similar, save that one is mostly of barnyard animals and the other is of savannah animals. She’d pick up one piece and, without giving the other puzzle board a glance, move it toward the right puzzle before she can realistically have had a chance to see which board the piece belongs to. I figure she must either be anticipating which piece to grab from the pile after having seen what spots are empty on the board (this strikes me as being a rather complex bit of thinking for a 20-month-old) or she’s got some sort of intuition about the pieces. The former seems more likely if also — ahem — brilliant. In any case, here’s one more bullet point for her baby résumé.

Lennie and I read a lot of books tonight. We identified pictures (she learned “gnome” and “troll,” though I don’t know that she’ll keep them), and then she did some reading aloud of her own. She did this a lot when she was much younger, holding a book open and babbling in a tone very much like what we use to read aloud to her (which differs, of course, from the phone voice, which differs from the normal talking voice, which differs from the talking to the baby voice). I hadn’t noticed her doing this very much lately, but she revived it tonight, but with a new twist. Amid the babbling, she’ll say words she knows that correspond to things in pictures on the pages. So it’ll be “Duh dn duh poo bah spoon duh fnnruh bear duh dnduh.” At one point, she was saying something that sounded very much as if she was saying “I know how to read.” I can’t imagine that’s what she was actually saying (though it was pretty clear), but I certainly reinforced it and encouraged her to keep saying it.

I’ve been Lennie’s porter this evening. On the way home from an evening session of a singing and dancing thing she goes to pretty regularly, we stopped to get her a smoothie, and when we got home, she was very intent on my holding it for her. M had gotten a puzzle out and was holding it for her while they did a puzzle on the bed, but when I came into the room, Lennie insisted that I hold it for her: “Daddy hold it.” A couple of other times this evening, she insisted that I hold things for her, a sock once, I think, and then a cloth she had been using as a baby wipe for her doll.

Lennie has quite a music collection. The songs I’ve been listening to most frequently with her of late are as follows:

  • Victor Vito (who eats spaghetti with Freddy Vasco)
  • I Know a Chicken (Lennie dances like crazy to this one and sometimes shakes an egg noisemaker)
  • Monster Boogie (nuff said)
  • Elvira (by the Oak Ridge Boys; it’s campy and awful and great, and I had it on a 45 when I was a kid, so I got it mostly for my own nostalgia’s sake, though what made me think about it in the first place was hearing it on one of those kitschy music compilation TV ads, upon which hearing Lennie did cut a rug otherwise unprompted)
  • Gold Digger (yes, the Kanye West song. I know, I know, we’re bad parents for exposing our child to such lyrics, but it’s a darned catchy tune.)

That’s it for this edition.

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