It's been a while since we've had a (less and less of a) Baby J quirks update, so here goes:
Whereas once we despaired of ever discovering J's verbal ability, in the past month or so he has increased his vocabulary by 75%. Of course, don't get too excited: this means he has progressed from one word to FOUR WHOLE WORDS! Yes, yes, yes, let the celebrations begin. Once all we had was "Daddy." Now we have expanded to "Oh oh," "no," and "yum yum." Beyond these paltry pieces of communication, J is still quite verbal, but his preferred method of communication is an expressive series of emphatic grunts, sparing use of high pitched squeals, and a range of imperious hand gestures. As one acquaintance put it, "He really talks with body language, doesn't he?"
On the other hand, J is quite adept at listening and understanding now. I have really felt for the first time in the last few months that we are actually understanding each other most of the time. When I tell him to go find his shoes and I think they are in his room, he usually beats me there and has already located at least one. When I tell him to clean up his toys and put them in their baskets, he quickly starts to do so. When I tell him it's time to put on sunscreen on bug spray, he obediently holds out his arms. Having a responsive toddler makes a world of difference in our interactions! For example, here is J playing on the stationary coin-operated car:
Here he is after he saw some other child get to ride a moving vehicle and insisted he be able to do the same: (We're still working on dealing with the unexpected consequences of our actions! The moving vehicle turned out to be not nearly as fun as he had anticipated.)
J has also become quite the routine lover. For example, every morning at a time set by him alone, J walks over to one set of our floor length curtains in the great room, tugs on them, and grunts in my direction. He wants me to tie them up, and as soon as I do that window, he walks over to the next one, tugs and grunts, and waits for me to arrive. He the proceeds to the next window, always in the same order, always with the same routine. Peril to the person who wants to upset his routines! You want to close the laundry room door without lifting him up to turn off the light? Silly, silly you! You want to go through the front door into the house without letting him ring the doorbell? Are you crazy?! You want to get him out of bed in the morning without tracking down every one of his pacifiers that have fallen during the night? What kind of hotel is this?! He is also quite insistent on your turning on or off stand alone fans when he passes them, bringing his own high chair into the kitchen if you plan on being in there for any length of time doing something he can't see on the counter, his sitting on one particular rug when you put on his shoes, and your helping him put anything he deems trash in the trash can immediately.
Discipline has become a big experiment around our house as well lately. For the longest time, J just laughed when we said no. Now, he instantly sticks out his lip and cries, the strength of which episodes usually increases in direct proportion to the strength of the admonishment. While the crying is annoying, I'm considering it progress, because at least he has realized that we are not kidding around any more. We have also implemented time outs, following Nanny 911's strict guidelines. J only has to stay in time out for a minute and a half, in accordance with his age, and the acts that most often get him sent there are pinching, biting, and pulling hair (we are raising a demon some days). At first, time out were a total failure, then, all of the sudden, all on his own he stayed put in the arbitrary corner to which we sent him, wailing the whole time, but quite contrite when we came to get him. I'm not sure he is connecting his actions with his imprisonment, but we're baby stepping, people!