March 17, 2016
I read in one of my baby books that at around 18 months old, babies go through a cognitive growth spurt as language skills start to come on line. Today is Cozy’s 19-month birthday and the last month has been fascinating. Andrea and I are living with someone who, seemingly a few weeks ago, was just a fetus the size of a kumquat and is now pretty much a fully functioning alien, ready to pick out an outfit or climb the stares to go dive into the beanbag chair.
It’s incredible to watch this little creature learn how to make sense of the world. Our Cozette has a very real personality now, full of humor and bravery. Freud argues that the personality forms when the pleasure-seeking id is balanced by the external demands of society, which he called the superego. It’s the balance of “I” with “they.” “I want an Elmo cookie but they won’t give me one.” I know there’s a lot of this ahead when the potty training becomes more of a focus, but you can see the wheels in Cozy’s head turning. “What can I get away with?”
One of her favorite words of the moment is cracker. Ritz Crackers are her crack. She’ll point to the kitchen (where the goodies are) and say, “Cracker?” And I’ll say no because she’s already eaten half a box. So she’ll cry loudly like she’s on fire and then, with a sly smile and her head cocked to the side, say, “Cracker?” It gets me every time. She already knows how to manipulate her dad.
The language boom is intense. She’s only got about a dozen words in her vocabulary but, “Uh oh!” has now been joined with, “Oh no!” and she knows when to use each. Cozy understands plenty of words, like “Spit it out” and “That’s mommy’s.” The second one comes in handy on a daily basis because she is a bit obsessed with Andrea’s make up and has already ruined a few Mac lipsticks. I don’t know if that’s gendered behavior or she just wants to run off with the circus, but it’s pretty funny. Until mom finds out, that is.
Being a stay-at-home dad gives me lots-of-time to help her cranium along. She’s still clueless about colors but on body parts she’s a valedictorian. Ask her to show you her ears or her toes and she’ll do it with a smile. If she shows you her bellybutton, there will be an expectation of tickling and a “Whatchu talkin’ bout, Willis?” look if you don’t.
Today was a rare sunny day in Portland so we took a walk in the neighborhood. (Strollers are for babies.) We met flowers and cats and a guy remolding a hundred-year-old house. She stopped at the first sight of her shadow. Then she raised her hands and realized that this odd phantom was connected to her. Hopping and giggling and dancing, Cozy and her shadow. What must have been going through her mind at that moment. I can’t wait until she has enough words to tell me.
It’s an odd thing how we start out life these completely dependent, relatively inert beings, slightly above sea anemones, and day by day we begin to see ourselves; in a mirror, in a shadow, in our parents eyes, in society’s expectations. I don’t know how any parent can’t be glued to that process. Maybe it’s a “first child” thing. It’s like the first time you have sushi and you wonder why everybody doesn’t know about this amazing thing. All I know is that Cozy’s evolution is the best binge-watching I can imagine.