"You say that at every age," Eric said.
Which I suppose is true, starting at about six months, anyway. I can't help it that kids get more awesome as they get older. (Don't tell me when this starts to reverse. I don't want to know.) Chloë at nineteen months is subtly different from Chloë at eighteen months, but the differences are there, and yes, I like her better now than I did a month ago. Why shouldn't I?
Nineteen-month-old Chloë really, truly does not feel like a baby. She's off her bottles and doesn't wake me up with crying. Well, she does occasionally, like the other night, when I think she might have been having a bad dream. She woke up screaming around 4:30, settled in my lap for about fifteen seconds to rock in the chair, and then told me "sleepy," and "nap," indicating she wanted to go back to her bed to sleep.
But in the mornings it's "Mama," and "up," and when I come in she doesn't immediately want a drink or to be held; she wants to talk. She's so tall; she can scramble up on the couch, and walk up and down the stairs by herself (if she's not arrested in her tracks by the sight or sound of a dog, or Mama downstairs, or Dada upstairs, or Ganpa in the living room). She's pretty good, though not perfect, about staying with us in stores. She loves to color and to splash. She wants to play with or eat specific things, or see specific shows, or rock with Dada instead of Mama. She needs to work on some self-confidence, since she's still a pushover with other kids and asks us for "hep" more often than she actually needs it, but she still knows who she is and what she wants.
(Come to think of it, she stopped waking routinely in the early morning around the time we stopped giving her bottles. Now she doesn't even want a drink most of the time, and if she does water or juice are often her choice.)
She's starting to get rebellious, running away when we try to put her diaper on, then repeating "Here?" and "Now?" when we tell her to "come here now" until I want to either scream or laugh, depending on how tired I am. She's learned what "burp" means (though she applies it to gas at both ends). Whenever she does it I say, "Say 'excuse me,'" and she says, "No?" with a grin. She did actually say it once the other day and I made sure to praise her profusely. The rest of the time I fight not to grin back, because she's so cute when she thinks she's being annoying. Mostly she's still a good girl, but we're waiting in trepidation to see what comes these next few months. She screams sometimes when she doesn't get her way, but we haven't really been seeing what I'd call real tantrums yet. Though she did get upset during dinner prep tonight when she thought I wasn't going to give her another piece of raw onion.
She reliably identifies herself as "Kha-ee" now, even in photographs, where before she was "Baby." When we try to impress on her that she's being bad by calling her "Chloë Snyder," she often repeats "Nye?" but I'm not sure she realizes that's part of her name, too. She does understand "name," as in when Eric asks her "What's my name?" She understands so much. And has started repeating it, too--it's time to start watching our vocabulary.
Her own vocabulary continues to expand. Strawberries have featured heavily this month--Eric bought a box that smelled really good, and after that Chloë would run to the fridge and yank at the handle trying to open it, saying "Dobby?" She's still keen on asking for yogurt, though not necessarily on eating it. She knows "napkin" and "heavy" (mostly "heavy book"), and "diaper" and "nipple" (because she noticed hers one day and thought they were "ows"). We're trying to work on "thank you," and she'll sign it sometimes when prompted but has only tried to say it once or twice. We'll keep working on it. She's still good at "please," and when she asks for something if I wait with my eyebrow lifted, or Eric says, "And...?" she adds "Pee!" with a good grace.
We've started working on letters, numbers, and colors this past month. She knows A, B, D, E, I, L, M, N (at least, we think so...she may also be mixing it up with M; it's hard to hear the difference), O, P, R, T, and sometimes Y. She routinely mistakes the C for a moon. A lot of things are moon-shaped, it turns out. She knows one and two and five fairly well, probably mainly because we count body parts a lot, but is still shaky on three and nearly nonexistent on four. And she likes saying colors (I never knew that "purple" was such a cute word) but is iffy on their application.
She's doing a lot of "X"/"No X" these days. It started with the kids in glasses in the Little People book. Then it was our glasses. Then it was the Little People balls--she now knows that they're only on that one page, and she delights in flipping through the book, looking up at me and saying, "Balls? No?" at each spread, until at last we arrive at the schoolhouse page, when she waits for me to exclaim, "Balls!" Which of course I always do. If she's wearing socks and I'm not sometimes we'll discuss this, she pointing alternately at my feet and hers until I get tired of saying "socks...no socks...socks...no socks..." I have a bruise on my arm from a really bad blood draw a couple of weeks ago (for glucose testing--no gestational diabetes here), and sometimes she'll push up both my sleeves, or my sleeve and hers, to point and say "Ow?" at mine, and "No?" at hers. And there's in/out and up/down, too. At her bath tonight, Eric and I were both reciting, "The scrubber is in the water...the scrubber is out of the water!"
She's starting to get into two-word phrases. Her first and best is "More please," but she's also doing "flower baby and "sky baby" and "water baby" to indicate her different videos, and "see Mama," "read book," and "Ganpa bye-bye?" She's still saying this last one, though he left Monday. It's like my ceramic pumpkin that she took a fancy to a few weeks ago. She wanted to play with it, and I let her. Then she brought it into the bathroom, and of course at some point she dropped it and it shattered. I got it all cleaned up without injury to either of us, and explained a bit grumpily that the pumpkin was broken and it had gone bye-bye and that she should not poke around in the garbage where the pieces were. For a while after--and she's still occasionally doing it--she would look at me at random times, or when something else turned up broken, and say "pumpkin, broken."
Dad was in the area for a business trip last Thursday, so he came for a weekend visit. It was a very quiet visit, if you don't count the constant "flower baby" video watching and litany of "Ganpa. Mama. Dada. Kha-ee." Chloë certainly enjoyed herself; she was more boisterous and smiley than usual, grinning and contorting herself in weird ways and running here and there. She and Dad made up a game in which Dad would pretend to sleep, Chloë saying "jeepy" (sleeping/sleepy). Then Chloë would point and say "Hwake!" and Dad's eyes would pop open. She would ask after "Ganpa" whenever he wasn't around, including at bedtime, but when we summoned him she wouldn't go to him for a hug. She would blow kisses, though, or her version of it: clapping her hand to her mouth and making kissing noises behind it. I guess the "blowing" part hasn't sunk in yet.
She's still doing the sleepy/wake game with us, and still asking after him, especially when we go into the spare room. She goes to the bed and says "Ganpa" because while he was here and she wanted to play on the bed, I would say "No, that's Grandpa's right now." His memory is definitely lingering more than it did on previous visits, much like she still remembers "Ha-ee" from Mom's visit, which makes me happy. Her memory in general is improving, which is pretty neat to see in action, even when I want to tell her to give it a rest with the pumpkin already.
(Of course, now we have to get her to identify the spare room bed as hers, because the next big project is to move her in there before Maia comes. We're going to be taking the bed off its frame and moving my stuff out this weekend.)
She's taken an interest in my belly lately. I don't know for sure that she's noticed it's getting bigger, but she likes to tickle it and blow raspberries on it and kiss it, more than she did before. We tell her that there's a baby inside and it will come out soon, but we've been telling her that for months and no baby has appeared, so I'm not sure she believes us. She nods when we ask if she'd like to have a baby live with us, which is a good sign, though I'm kind of expecting her to enjoy the baby for a couple of hours and then say "baby bye-bye," or something similar. But I can't really imagine what she'll be like in two months. Even though she's not growing as fast as she was the first year, she's still learning and changing so much every day. I'm finding myself trying to drink her in, to actively enjoy her and remember that she won't always be like this, even if she does continue to be more awesome. I'm also afraid of missing out on her when the new baby comes. But that's my problem, not hers, and I think she's going to be a delightful big sister. She is a silly, happy, growing, learning girl, and we're proud of her.