This week marked yet another milestone in the life of Alice. On Sunday she took her first tentative steps. After cruising and walking behind push toys for months, she finally let go and stumbled the three steps from her dad to me. We cheered as if she had just won Olympic gold. Feeling the excitement, she shrieked and laughed, knowing that she she had just executed something very important. Walking is just another step in the parade of achievements reached in just a few shorts years of life. The amazing thing is how fast those milestones are flying at you as the parent of a young child. If you blink you might miss something.
The rate of change in a child is staggering. They go from lumps of baby to a walking, talking, interacting person in less than two years. Within that time frame, vast changes take place. It literally blows my mind. I have witnessed the evolution of my infant into a baby, that baby into a toddler. If I was still changing and learning as fast as the little lady, I would be doing advanced calculus, swinging on a trapeze, playing the accordion, and singing opera, all at the same time. At no other time in life are we accomplishing so much on so may fronts. If we did I think our brains may explode.
I find the most fascinating changes are happening in the talking arena. Alice has always been rather, er, noisy, but her ability to communicate has improved at an alarming rate. Every few days she picks up a new sound or word. In the last few months she has begun trying to repeat what she hears. She certainly doesn't nail it very often, but her ability to mirror the general sounds and or syllables surprises me every time. When she does get it right it is hilarious. I swear the other day she said, "c'mon mom." She tries very hard to say "I love you" and if I didn't know exactly what she was trying to repeat, it would be absolutely unrecognizable. But I do know, and every time it makes my heart grow a little more. For 15 months we have been saying it to her, and to hear even a vague approximation back is pretty much the most amazing thing ever. The funniest part of her learning to talk are her attempts at conversation. It is obvious that she knows what she is saying and she thinks we should know too. I love the look on her face when she tells us something. It is this intent stare and it is obvious she is waiting for a response back. I can only imagine the barrage of conversation that will stream forth once she really can talk. If she attacks conversating with the same gusto in which she lives the rest of her life, all I can say is to the rest of the world is prepare yourself and get some earplugs.
This week was also her highness's first foray into using a spoon and fork by herself. It was, in a word, messy. She has been trying to assist us for weeks, despite my numerous explanations that we could get the spoon to her mouth without her help. I finally had to retire applesauce from the menu because it was so frustrating for both parties. I would try to feed her and she would try to grab the spoon. The more I resisted the more she grabbed. This result was always the same- flying applesauce and her holding the ill gotten spoon down by her side where I could not easily get it. See where the frustration comes in? After I witnessed other kids younger than her using a spoon I decided it was time, no matter the mess. So, off came the shirt, out came the cute little fork and spoon set and into the world of "self feeding" we ventured. She's doing well, actually much better than I expected. It takes unmeasurable patience to watch a 15 month old attempt to spear a piece of food and then get it to their mouth. Also, the confusion about the difference between the two utensils adds unforeseen tedium. She spends half the meal trying to spear with her spoon and trying to shovel with her fork. It is actually pretty impressive the amount of applesauce that she can eat using a fork. Watching her little brain work is the most amazing part, not to mention entertaining. I can see the hamster running while she works to get the piece of hot dog to her wide open mouth. Eventually, she tires of working so hard for relatively little satisfaction, and Ripley ends up the big winner. Apparently it is still more fun to toss it to the dog and watch her scarf it down. As the self appointed president of the Alice fan club, I think she is doing pretty well. It is only the first meal of the rest of her life, and unless she decides to only eat finger foods, she will be getting lots of practice.
As she changes and grows, I must continue to remind myself that it is not about me, it is about her. I need to let her learn to do things independently now (even if it is only using a fork or taking a step) because she needs to have faith in herself and her abilities. Change is constant no matter the age or stage, but the changes happening now are providing the building blocks for everything else down the road. So let the changes come, we are ready for them. Something tells me, they won't slow down for awhile yet.