Language is important to me.
Aside: Before I posted this, I skimmed it and discovered that I had written:
“Lanugage is important to me”. I’m pretty sure there’s some irony in there.
In case it isn’t obvious that I, THE BLOGGER, love language, let me assure you that
I REALLY REALLY REALLY LOVE LANGUAGE.
It amazes and astounds and amuses me daily. I’ll listen to a random stranger say something to another stranger and totally geek out on how intelligent they are, conveying thoughts with words, and then translating the words of others into thoughts.
Then there are days when “your dog got mites at the pet shop, you should take this vet bill to them” seems too complicated a sentence for people, and I despair for humanity.
But mostly, language delights me.
So I’ve been waiting, waiting, waiting for Owl to get into language. Long before I got pregnant I was watching videos on teaching babies to read, and I totally wanted to teach my baby to read.
Not because I’m a pushy mom, who thinks it’ll help her kids get into a better college. I doubt it’ll give any real head start.
Just because IT’D BE REALLY COOL.
My friend who I’m starting a dog training biz with actually worked under this lady, so she’s going to show me how to teach Beloved Dog to read. I figure we can do Owl at the same time because he is FINALLY ready for language.
It took long enough.
He started pointing at 8 months, and so I started sign language then, but the only word he picked up was “milk”, and that was a behaviour that I captured with positive reinforcement, not something he picked up through imitation and a desire to communicate.
He did pick up the sign for “ball” shortly before his first birthday, but that was it. Not even a “mama” until after 13 months.
It wasn’t until daycare that he picked up another sign – “more” – (and sadly, it’s the wrong version – the sign for “again” instead of the real sign for “more”, but whatever) and even then, language didn’t start.
My mother assurred me a month or two ago that as soon as Owl began to walk, the talking would start.
BOY was she right.
“Mama” appeared less than a week after he started walking, and now he is learning a sign every couple of days and really TRYING (and failing) to approximate the word sounds.
His sign vocabulary includes: “milk”, “ball”, “more/again”, “dog”, “cat”, “duck”, “frog”, “book”, and “bear” (sort of).
His spoken vocabulary consists of: “mama?” “dada?” “baaaaaa”, “daw?”, “daa”, and “duh”.
Only truly doting parents would understand most of these, but then, we’ve always been eager to interpret his sounds.
Language has begun and I’m SO STOKED.
Some of you will read this and roll their eyes. For those of you who do, please understand: I HAVE AN ANXIETY DISORDER. I worry unnecessarily about things. I’m working on it, really, I am.
Babby is ten and a half months old now.
I haven’t done a full update, because besides the biting, nothing really amazing has happened since the nine month mark. He was still pointing at everything, pulling himself up, signing for milk constantly, handing me objects, making me bleed and so on.
He is pointing at pictures in books now, and if possible is even more obsessed with them. As soon as I put the book down he is practically throwing it at me with impatient “Ah! Buh!” noises.
So really, I shouldn’t be at all concerned about anything.
But I’m me, so I am.
Here’s the thing: Babby has learned how to wave, which is fun.
But the sign for milk disappeared.
This baby was signing for milk CONSTANTLY. It wasn’t always to get milk. I think he knew it would get my attention.
While we think that to him “milk” and “mommy” were the same thing (since I am just a big booba to him, clearly), he did know what it meant because if I said “milk?” he’d start signing away, and if I signed it back he’d get all excited and start pulling at my shirt.
Then he picked up waving, and now he doesn’t sign for milk at all.
He doesn’t react if I say the word, he doesn’t react if I sign it at him. If I try to withhold the breast until he signs it (which he was doing with alacrity a week ago) he just stares at me. He is getting very frustrated and starting to scream a lot, because I no longer know what he wants when he gets thirsty.
PH says that regressions happen and the sign will come back. But of course I’m catastrophizing all over the place.
Especially since both signs, the milk and the waving, were captured behaviours. I mean that he happened to make them on his own, and we made a big fuss over it, so he did it again.
They weren’t imitated behaviours.
He doesn’t imitate us if we wave at him, or do other hand motions. He likes the waving thing, but it’s hard to get him to initiate it, because he does it randomly, not when we demonstrate waving or tell him to “say hi!” or “say bye!”
Should he be imitating us by now? He doesn’t imitate facial expressions, or try to mimic the words that we say, either. Meanwhile, an acquaintance on facebook has posted an adorable video of her three month old girl imitating sounds.
He enjoys watching itsy bitsy spider, but he doesn’t try make the motions himself.
He does SOME imitations. Sometimes, if I clap, he’ll clap too. He also watches how we interact with objects and then tries to do it himself.
We just had a fun little session today where I was showing him how to put his block IN a cup, and he was trying to do it too.
He also enjoys the “it’s on Babby’s head!” game, invented by PH which involves (cleverly enough) putting stuff on Babby’s head. When it falls off, he’ll try to put it back on.
So that in itself tells me that I’m being a little crazy.
But seriously. Where did “milk” go??
Time tends to meld when you spend every day at home, like a hamster in a cage (although, as a nervous sort of hamster, I actually appreciate my cage and find it cozy and protective).
Going on vacation really helped put a time-stamp on a lot of Babby’s developmental progress.
I went to Nova Scotia with a baby who was 8 months old, clapping, but not pointing, who was not crawling, and only interested in standing.
I came home three weeks later with a baby who was pointing at everything while making little “ah!” noises, dragging himself around the house on one knee, and pulling himself to standing on every vertical object he could find.
The pointing thing gets a little funny. He points at everything that interests him (his favourites are lights, red things, knobs, and switches) but he won’t identify a named object by pointing.
Also, while I automatically name everything he points at, he’ll continue pointing, and then I’m not sure what to do.
“Fire extinguisher! That’s a fire extinguisher!
…Yep, that’s… still a fire extinguisher. It’s red! It’s… a fire extinguisher! Can you say “fire extinguisher”? Nice try, “gah” is close…
…Okay, that’s… still a fire extinguisher…”
If I can take him over to touch it (i.e. it is safe to play with and reachable) I will. But honestly, it’s like living with the ghost of Christmas Yet to Come the way that unwavering finger is always pointing, pointing, pointing.
He discovered the dimmer switch at my mother’s house, and is now obsessed with light switches. I can always make him smile by picking him up and letting him flick the switch up, turning his bedroom light on, and then down, turning it off. He grins and chortles with delight every time.
He has figured out the sign for milk (opening and closing his hand). I captured the behaviour by sticking a booba in his mouth every time he did it, and after a few experiences of this nature, he began to do it more deliberately. When his little experiments worked, by producing booba, he would nurse with his eyes wide, staring at his hand, opening and closing it thoughtfully.
So now he makes it ALL THE TIME while staring at me expectantly as his hand opens and closes, opens and closes.
Thing is, I’m not sure he really understands that it means milk.
I think he thinks it means Mommy.
Although since he probably percieves me as nothing more than a giant milk sack to begin with, it may simply be that the distinction is too fine at this juncture. He hasn’t picked up any other signs, and he doesn’t try to imitate what we do, either. He thinks it’s awesome when we imitate HIM, though.
I’m glad he’s finally crawling.
He totally figured it out the day after I made the post about how he had no intention of doing it.
It was clearly an accidental discovery.
He was trying to figure out how to stand up and walk, but discovered that one foot flat on the ground could propel the rest of his body along, and so that is what he does now. He treats his left knee like a skateboard and pushes himself with the right foot. It works, although when he gets going he begins to resemble a rampaging gorilla.
My life immediately got a lot easier.
He is now quite happy to move around a room, examining toys, putting dog fur in his mouth, playing with the knobs on his dresser and so on, for ten or twenty minutes at a time. Since he was already scooting around backwards anyway, things haven’t changed much in the watching-him category. The only difference is that now he gets where he wanted to go, and doesn’t end up screaming in rage from the other side of the room.
He wants to be clear, though, that he doesn’t consider this to be an ideal form of locomotion.
He loves to walk around the house while we hold his hands (although he’s still convinced that he would be perfectly capable of doing it himself if we would just let go of him) and he WOULD be cruising around the furniture if he didn’t keep letting go of the couch/table/parental pant leg and attempting to walk off on his own. He invariable falls over, which thankfully he usually finds hilarious.
In fact, after one failed attempt at walking away from the coffee table, he will often pull himself to standing and then let go again and again, for the sheer joy of landing on his butt and then laughing over the funniness of it all. I laugh too, and he thinks I’m laughing with him, but it’s also AT him a bit.
His top teeth are starting to come in, which is not helping the booba-biting situation. The problem with his nipping me at the breast is that every time he does it I yelp. He finds this hilarious and it actually encourages him. I always remove the breast and often plunk him unceremoniously on the floor afterwards, but until I manage to keep my mouth shut he’s going to keep nipping when he gets bored. Meanwhile the skin under my nipples is starting to flake and my boobas itch insanely all the time, probably from sheer irritation.
Itchy boobas aside, I am finding this kid increasingly entertaining with every passing day, and it’s killing me that soon I’ll have to leave him with someone else…
Well, our anniversary was a fiasco.
I was stressed out from another day of visiting daycares and fruitless job searching. The mix-cd I had carefully compiled for PH wouldn’t burn. I ran late trying to get the gift to burn and ended up running around like a chicken with my head cut off, trying to gather stuff for the sitter, and totally forgot a bunch of stuff.
So I picked PH up from work late, anxious, frustrated, and with no present in hand and worse, with no sleepy suit or sea horse for the sitter.
PH had clearly had a bad day at work. He didn’t want to talk about it. My stress levels were through the roof. I didn’t want to talk about it. We kept accidentally ticking each other off and having to apologize.
The movie was awful (Mr. Popper’s Penguins. It had some good lines and was cute enough that I could almost have forgiven it for having nothing in common with the book… except for the repeated penguin-poop joke scenes. I observed to PH that some guy must have gone home at the end of a long work day day and when his wife asked him what he had done that day, he would have said “I created CGI poop gushing out of a CGI penguin’s cloaca.”) and when we got back to our friend’s house we learned that Babby had been screaming pretty much the whole time and had refused to eat or even drink his milk.
They were hanging out with him outside because he didn’t scream outside.
All in all? It turns out that weekday anniversary celebrations leave much to be desired. So we’re going to try again on the weekend.
Now, as for daycare, I think I have some good news… but I want to hear your opinion.
Distance: three minute drive from my house. The closest yet.
Caretakers: One, a fiftyish Persian (of course) lady who was a teacher back in Iran. Her English is mediocre (much better than my Farsi, of course).
Details: $40/day (she was vague about full-time rates). Lunch and snacks provided. The kids were sitting at a table snacking on crackers when I arrived, staring at Dora the Explorer on a strategically placed TV.
She has a website which had a clear gentle-discipline policy posted, and that promotes learning. She says that she has her ECE and teaches the kids the alphabet, their numbers, and uses a map of the world to teach them their countries.
There is a contract, and for a deposit she would “hold” the space for me.
One baby, one full time kid and several part time kids.
The daycare is relatively new, and has only had one inspection since being licensed, which came up with the following violations:
|203||Hygiene & Communicable Disease Control
“Sanitation or housekeeping” does not meet requirements.
|204||Physical Facility, Equipment & Furnishings
“Storage practices of hazardous materials” does not meet requirements.
Friendly, warm lady who gushed over Babby and whisked him over to the kids to say “look who will be coming!” She held him the whole time and took him around the room to investigate everything he pointed at.
Formal anti-hitting discipline policy.
I didn’t like:
Not only do they get TV, they get it twice a day – during snack time. The lady informed me that that was “all” because too much TV wasn’t good for them and she liked to teach them. Unfortunately, twice a day is still two times more often than I am comfortable with. Not so much for the kids, but the fact that the baby was sitting there staring at it too bothered me.
She was very pushy – she tried to get me to hand her a deposit to hold the space for her. Since I was still all like “oh hell no” about the TV, I politely declined, saying I would call if I wanted the space held.
She was more negative about the cloth diapers than the first two workers. Like them, she had very much a “but WHY?” attitude, but while they had seemed to shrug it off once I assured them that there would be no extra work involved, she seemed less comfortable with the idea.
I was disappointed by this daycare, because I had found the website very promising. I am also finding it very stressful to meet and connect with all of these women, knowing that I will end up rejecting most of them. I hate this sort of thing – meet them, talk to them, make friends, and then either never fulfill my promise to call them, or call and formally reject them. I hate having to pick someone, and I hate that I have to let the majority of these nice people down.
So it was with a heavy heart that I headed out to Daycare 4, which I had found by a fluke. It wasn’t listed on Daycarebear or godaycare, but its location near me caught my eye and a quick Google search with the name in quotation marks turned up a simple webpage with very little information. It styled itself as an eco-friendly “green” daycare, so I figured that this would be at least once place that might accept cloth diapering.
When I called, though, I wasn’t encouraged. I had to repeat “cloth diaper” over the phone multiple times before she could understand what I was saying, and then she said that they used disposables, that by licensing standards she couldn’t put them in cloth. I explained that I would bring my own and take them away and have them washed independantly, and she had said that THAT would probably be doable. I didn’t feel encouraged, though.
The problem with talking to these daycare ladies over the phone has been the fact that all of them have been Iranian. If you know anyone from the Middle East or India, you know that their accent and manner of speech is often clipped and hurried, and over the phone especially it often comes across as abrupt or rude by English-speaking standards.
I had been put-off by the phone manners of all of these women, but charmed by their real life counterparts.
So I went to go see the “Green” daycare.
Distance: Near Daycare one – so about a four minute drive.
Caretakers: One, a middle-aged lady with two young girls who make up some of her daycare space complement. She is Persian (like all of them – is this a cultural thing, this Persian-daycare thing?) but in person her English is excellent. She is a nurse who decided to start a daycare when she realized that it would cost over $2000 dollars a month to put her two kids in care while she worked. She was friendly, chatty, and clearly takes pride in her work. She said she might be getting help in the future so she could have a few more slots open up.
Details: Rates are negotiable but trend at $880-900/month for full time care, lunch and snacks included. There are currently five children attending, including her own two, one of whom will be going to school in the fall. Her own children are 5 and 8, there is a 16 month old, a 22 month old, and another toddler (I didn’t quite catch the age) who comes part time. This means that the daycare is quite full, and she isn’t even positive about whether she will have a space in September. She says she needs to talk to the licensing board – with one of her kids going to school, and one of the babies turning two, she thinks she will be able to take another baby but she isn’t sure.
The children are allowed free run of the house (supervised) but there is a play room, a back yard, and a kitchen attached to the play room. The lunch menus are posted on the wall, and they included a variety of cultural foods, such as chicken curry, black bean burrito, and sockeye salmon roll. She told me that the food is organic whenever possible and that none of it is pre-packaged. She enjoys cooking and likes to prepare meals from scratch. She doesn’t believe in serving juice – she serves milk or water, but she has taken to making mango fruit smoothies for them occasionally as a snack.
Everything was very clean, but she told me that she only used natural cleaning products – no chemicals.
The lady was friendly, outgoing, and exuded competence.
She not only had a cork board filled with policies, weekly menus and such, but she also had a beautifully bound policy manual, printed in colour with clip art images (which her 5 year old daughter insisted on describing to me in detail: “This is a man. This is a woman. This is a doctor. This is a flower and it’s growing in dirt. This is mommy’s Allah-book. This is mommy.”) and it covers EVERYTHING. It is like she sat down and thought of everything under the sun that could possibly be related to child care and put it in that manual. When I managed to tune out the five year old, I spotted a policy on custody papers in the case of divorced parents, a policy on reporting suspected physical or sexual abuse and what constituted each, and an informational section on poisonous bug bites.
She offered to email me a copy so I could read it more thoroughly.
They don’t watch tv.
“His father” she pointed at the 16 month old “doesn’t want him watching TV, so we don’t watch TV. My kids do sometimes, because they’re older, but I get them to go upstairs, and actually since we don’t watch it down here, my own kids often go the whole day without asking to watch any at all.”
She LOVED my cloth diapers. She had never heard of a diaper service and thought it was a great idea. She was amazed at the price, saying that she thought it was still cheaper than disposables, and loved how eco-friendly it was.
She is familiar with baby sign language since both of the toddlers use it at home. “It’s great, the parents showed me the signs, and it’s amazing. They communicate with me, and they’re just babies! I love it!”
She also speaks in Farsi to the children occasionally “because it is good for them to learn other languages.” I wish it were French, since that’s a national language here, but I agree with her that any language is good, and PH himself is learning a lot of Farsi, since he works in a Persian-heavy area (my area isn’t very heavily Persian at all, but apparently only Persians run day care here. Odd).
There have been no violations, but to be fair, there have been no inspections. She was just licensed less than a year ago.
This woman came across as so competent that I felt like I was inadequate by comparison, and that Babby would actually be better off with her than with me! I didn’t feel that there was a language barrier or a clash of priorities and expectations. I felt like we were on the same page. And she liked me, too, I could tell, mostly because I was patient with her obstreperous five year old.
I didn’t like:
She may not have space for me, and even if she does, she is going to need a committment from me, because her slot could fill up fast. I don’t know where I’ll be working or what my shifts will be, and she hit the nail on the head when she asked “So what if you don’t find a job in September?”
I could tell that she would take me in a heart beat if she could and if I could commit. But I’m worried that I may not find a job fast enough, even if she DOES have a spot open up.
(I’ve been job searching and job searching, but the only vets that are advertising are a) far away from me – an hour’s drive, almost – and b) vets who turned me down last year because of my pregnancy.
I plan on taking my resume around to every vet in the area in the hopes that some of them just aren’t advertising well.
But I’m scared. I need a job, and if I don’t find it fast I’m going to lose the best day care I have seen yet.)
Also, that five year old of hers was really something else. She started screaming when she saw me, “NO STRANGERS! I DON’T LIKE VISITORS NOOOOOOO!” and she hid in her room. Presently she came out and climbed all over her mother while her mother was trying to talk to me, insisting that her mother put her hair up in ribbons and then breaking into screams of rage when it didn’t meet her exacting standards. The mother was clearly frustrated with her and embarassed.
“I don’t know why she gets like this,” she told me, physically holding down the arms of the child, who had been flailing angrily at the approaching 16 month old, “she acts out for strangers lately.”
“She isn’t like this normally,” said the 8 year old seriously, shaking her head at her sister, “I don’t know what gets into her.”
On the one hand, I wasn’t impressed by her kid’s manners. On the other hand, it’s hard to judge someone based on the misbehaviour of their kid, because ALL kids misbehave occasionally and it often is calculated for the maximum embarrassment of the parent.
Also, at least she didn’t slap the kid or threaten her, although she also didn’t impose a time out or any other consequence other than speaking sternly and occasionally physically removing the child from a lap/from the other children.
Since I don’t have an obstreperous five year old, I’m not entirely sure what to make of that experience.