E is just over 14 months old now and is very much on the move. After baulking at the stairs in Dairy Cottage (after using and loving the lifts to our flat for a month!) he has taken to them like a duck rediscovering water. He would really like to be able to walk down them as Mummy and Daddy do, but as this has led to two tumbles, he has realised his limitations and continues to descend backwards on all fours. He runs and walks everywhere at speed, except if descending an incline, or if, when barefoot, he discovers a surface that is not to his liking, at which point he goes on hands and knees.
He doesn’t really seem to have missed the vast majority of his toys too much (although we are looking forward to seeing him reacquaint with once-familiar playthings) and has been very much interested in doing what Mummy and Daddy do. He has a cupboard in the kitchen full of plasticware, and sorting through it is a favourite morning pastime. He borrows utensils and mixes things in little pots and then wants Mummy to taste them. He is fond of plugging and unplugging the vacuum cleaner and trying to push it round the floor.
When one of us is using it he cries – not because he is frightened by the noise but because he isn’t having a turn! He loves the washing machine and stands in front of it in the kitchen, watching the water and clothes sloshing around. Whenever the spin cycle begins he comes running from wherever he is to watch it and comment ‘There! There! There! There!’
We are having a ‘manners’ tussle over the broom at present, which is stored between the fridge and counter where E usually cannot reach it. He will often try to grasp it and fail and then become very frustrated and ‘ask’ Mummy to get it for him by crying. We have decided that this is a watershed moment and that he needs to say ‘please’ and ‘thankyou’ through sign language or verbally before he gets it. We have been surprised by how utterly unwilling he is to do this. He throws himself on the floor when asked to say ‘please’ and commences wailing angrily. This means the broom stays off-limits. It’s one of those things, we suppose, because he is usually fairly happy to verbally say ‘Ta’ after he is given something or to be shown that he must sign ‘please’ before being given something. We’ve had the odd moment where life seems very unfair/overwhelming and he lies on the floor crying, or crouches with his head between his knees, yelling in frustration. We’re not sure if this is the baby in him coming to the fore in times of tiredness, or incipient toddler tantrums, but we are thinking about what to do if (when?!) they continue.
He loves being outdoors and will hand the pegs to whoever is hanging washing on the line. He has tried to make off with our next door neighbours’ big watering cans a number of times. They have given him a little one of his own (which he drinks from…) but it hasn’t stopped him from desiring theirs. They love him already and if we don’t see them one day, the next they say how much they missed him. They call him ‘smiler’ and ‘the artful young chap’ and E is very happy to go to either of them for a hug. He has had several rides in the wheelbarrow and can be found trotting around wielding an adult-sized broom; spade; fork or hoe. Sydney (next door) gave him an appropriately sized walking stick made of ash, with the head of a duck carved into the top. E loves it (because everyone he sees seems to have a walking stick) and strides along tapping it on the ground – or whirling it around at inopportune moments. He likes to have his own smaller garden tools when we are gardening, and he jams them into the lawn in imitation of us digging up a patch of nettles. He is envious that Daddy gets to use the (electric) mower and today in the shed he tried to push it round, making ‘brrmmm’ noises. Often he will run outside to look at the three horses in the field next to our driveway – they are quite lordly though and pay little attention to his cries of delight.
He is particularly fond of the four stuffed animals he sleeps with: Kanga; Shanks (the lamb); Yorrick the bear and Bunny-My-Honey. He kisses each one in turn when going to bed (without any prompting) and will often bring Shanks or Kanga to look at something out the window, or at something that he’s doing somewhere else in the house. He also kisses Mummy and Daddy hello and goodbye, and sometimes just for fun. He waves bye often – even if he is only ducking out of the room we’re in to fetch something.
He has about seven discernible words now: Mum, Dad, car, there, Nan, Ta, hello and bye. He is working on horse, truck and tractor.
He has just gained a seventh tooth, heralded by a couple of unpleasant days for us, and is confidently eating the family foods we eat. He’s not keen on raw salad vegies such as cucumber, but we’re working on it! He discovered strawberries about a week ago – lured by the aroma coming from the punnet we bought by the side of the road – and ate nearly half the punnet in one go. They were super sweet, unlike most Australian strawberries, so he really enjoyed himself!
His favourite snack for morning/afternoon tea is a couple of Ryvitas with pâté on them; or a bowl of Greek yoghurt with stewed fruit. He has developed an appreciation for couscous and got stuck into an asian (ish) chicken salad for lunch today.
He goes to a toddler group run by our church on a Tuesday and loves getting involved in all the activities. He seems to be reasonably respectful of the other children and if he has something taken from him, tends to wander off and have a play with something else. Possibly this is because they are all mostly older and bigger than him. We would be interested to see what would happen if he were the biggest…
Last time there was a water activity planned, so we stripped him down to singlet and nappy and he stood beside the water tub with the other kids, splashing and pouring and having a wonderful time. At afternoon tea, he sits up at the (toddler size) table on a little chair and munches his fruit and drinks his water. Given that he loves his food, we were pleased to see that he is suitably overawed at this stage not to snatch as the plate goes past. (We had a funny moment the other day when someone mentioned that the other kids were drinking squash. In horror, I thought they meant fizzy drink, but it turns out in England, squash means cordial – and dilute cordial at that!)
All in all he’s a dream baby/little boy and we are thankful that although the move here was momentous, he seems to have settled well and to be enjoying himself (while missing all his friends and family back in Australia, of course!)
(Written 18 June 2010)