Monday, January 26, 2009

Gaming and talking

The children are bursting with sweetness, all cute sayings and doings and new tricks. Bean-girl has learned to confidently use the computer mouse, and now she is a full-fledged gaming geek. I now know what it’s like to live with a teenager. Or maybe I have a hint of how she feels when I’m absorbed at the computer, reading blogs. This past weekend Bean-girl spent nearly every free moment at the computer, playing a Diego-and-dinosaur game. She’s got a fierce competitive streak. She couldn’t let the game go, because she had to advance through the levels to assemble as many dinosaur skeletons as possible. Somehow she even figured out how to click on the screen showing the highest scores earned; she took great interest in learning her highest scoring games (which really aren’t that high, actually). Today the gaming fever seemed to at last abate a bit, and I had the pleasure of interacting a little with my four-year old before she went to bed. She played hide-and-seek with me, and she and Legume padded about together after their bath, wearing matching fuzzy pink robes.

And Legume? Legume is learning to talk. When she was just a little over one she learned to say, “ball.” (Or rather, “baa.”). And there she paused for a very long time. She was soaking words in, and she understood perfectly what was said to her. But would she open her mouth to say any words in response? She even stopped saying her first word, “ball.” She was our silent little enigma.

Neither I nor husband really worried about it. But when I mentioned her lack of speech to the pediatrician at a check-up, the doctor saw fit to call the county early childhood development specialists on us. A specialist came out to the house to play with Baby Legume, and told us to our great surprise that Legume’s expressive speech (how well she talks) was months behind—our 18-month old’s speech patterns were at the level of a 9 or 10 month old, the specialist claimed! On the other hand, Legume could point correctly to all the animals and objects in a picture book, and could even point correctly to depicted actions (a child sleeping versus a child eating or running). So Legume’s “receptive speech” (how well she understands speech) was above age level, and closer to a two-year old’s.

“Is she always this quiet?” the specialist asked of Legume. “Or is she just so quiet because I’m here?”

“No,” I said resignedly. “She’s always this quiet.”

Fast forward a month and a half. We are living with an echo that can’t be turned off. Legume repeats everything that we say. “Stop!” she cries, echoing her father as he tells Bean-girl to stop doing something. “Red!” she echoes as someone mentions the color of an object. “Socks!” she says, as we pull socks on her pudgy feet. Her diction still needs work, and “bear,” “ball,” and “book” are distinguished mostly by context. But she can be understood. “BEAH,” she cries, showing me a picture of a bear in a book. “BEAH, BEAH!” she shoves the book in my face. Yes, yes, Baby Legume, it’s a bear. “BEAH!!” she insists, now practically shoving the book up my nose for emphasis.

Last week a second county speech therapist came to our house for a follow-up evaluation of Baby Legume. The verdict? Her expressive speech now falls within “normal” standards.

“I told you not to worry,” says Husband.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Sleepy time

What I like is how the kids can be practically stumbling about in tiredness, wilting on the vine, big purple bags under their eyes—and yet they loudly protest that THEY ARE NOT TIRED (one protests with words, the other protests without words), THEY ARE NOT TIRED and THEY ARE NEVER GOING TO SLEEP!!! Bean-girl insists, in fact, that she NEVER GETS TIRED and she NEVER SLEEPS! We may think she is sleeping when she lies in her bed with eyes closed all night, but really she is just lying there with eyes closed pretending to sleep. That’s what she says. Because, you know, the Bean-girl never ever ever sleeps. And then two minutes later, after mighty protestations, she is out like a light.


Last weekend the Bean-girl came down with a terrible stomach flu, couldn’t keep anything down for a day. She was the most compliant little patient I’ve ever seen. She hated “spitting up” (actually, it was throwing up) so much that she would do anything to avoid it. She sat there sipping her Pedialyte, calling it her “medicine juice.” Later that weekend the nausea hit me, and Bean-girl suggested that I drink some Pedialyte, too.

“Did I make you sick, mommy?” she asked. “I think so, but it’s not your fault,” I said. “The germs in your body made me sick.”

“I think the germs snuck into my body when I was sleeping,” Bean-girl said. “And then they snuck into your body.”

Bean-girl crashed out on the couch. Baby Legume came by to lovingly pat her sister’s back. One of Legume’s favorite games is patting baby dolls and stuffed animals to sleep. Now she had a real live big sister doll to pat.

Husband caught this picture. It’s one of the few that we have with both girls in the same frame. Trying to take pictures of the two children together is, well, in my sleep-deprived state I’m having trouble coming up with a clever analogy. Let’s just say it’s very difficult.

When Bean-girl woke from her nap, she insisted she had never fallen asleep at all. Confronted with the evidence, she could only laugh and claim that she’d been resting her eyes.

(Note: Baby Legume came down with the same stomach flu a few days later. Fun times.)