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Monday, May 12, 2003  

Deniece at Seventy-Three

Back to Iowa again this past weekend. It’s getting to the point where I can almost name the freeway exits in order.

We got to spend some quality time with our niece Deniece, who at 15½ months is in command of a rapidly expanding vocabulary. She can say fully half of my name now, instead of just the vowel sound. She said Trash’s name for the first time ever. And she’s begun calling her mom’s name. Not “mom,” but her mom’s actual name. She doesn’t know to call my sister-in-law “mom” yet, because she’s the only one in a position to do so and who else is she going to pick it up from? Meanwhile, her folks are looking forward to the day when they have to explain that Deniece’s mom is in fact Deniece’s mom and not just some chippy her dad brought home.

There are also a few nouns in Deniece’s verbal arsenal, like “flower,” “balloon,” and “bubbles.” To the untrained ear, they may sound like “FOUAAAAAAAAA,” “BAAAAAAH,” and “BAAAAAAH!!!” respectively. You can tell BAAAAAAH from BAAAAAAH!!! because bubbles are more exciting than balloons. Her language is still a tonal one in many respects. And the only thing more exciting than any of those things is a picture of herself, which her house contains in abundance. She doesn’t have a word for her pictures yet. They defy any description more precise than a happy shout. We can’t be too hard on her, though; photographs of her tend to have a similar effect on adults.

Another word she’s picked up is “yeah,” which is typically accompanied by a vigorous nod, and sometimes repeated rapid-fire in certain circumstance. The nightmare of a toddler who can say “no” has not quite arrived yet. She’s put more effort into trying to circumnavigate the no’s that come her way. She’ll reach for something forbidden, hear a no, and then press her head affectionately against whomever is nearest. Then she’ll give an expectant look, as if to say, “how about now?” I don’t know how she ever came up with this tactic, since it’s not like anybody’s ever said, “awww, you’re so sweet; go ahead and play with the Ginsu™,” so she’ll probably be giving up on it soon.

Especially now that she’s learned to say “please.” She needs a little prompting, but not much. We have a new game where I lift her up high enough to touch the ceiling, which she gets an inordinately huge charge out of. The other day a bunch of us normal-sized people were standing around talking about it. Deniece caught on, and started babbling loudly and excitedly. The “yeyeye”s and vigorous nodding commenced. My brother-in-law suggested she say “please,” which she did with a completely different expression and tone of voice. Fifteen months, and she’s figured out how to say “peeeeez?” in a way that’s going to score her a nuclear arsenal by the time she’s two.

Notice I said “by the time she’s two,” rather than “by her second birthday.” That’s long past. She had her first birthday party in January, and her second first birthday party in February. Then her parents left the “Happy Birthday” banner up for a while longer, because she had such a great time pointing at it and making them sing “Happy Birthday” to her. Trash’s mom’s birthday this weekend, which was combined with Mother’s Day, was also Deniece’s birthday as far as she was concerned. The kid must think she’s in her seventies by now.

Someone needs to tell her that with age comes dignity. Yesterday, Trash and I were in our car, following Deniece’s parents to the restaurant where we were having brunch with Trash’s mom. They had Deniece in her car seat, centered in the back. From our car, we could see the silhouettes of Trash’s brother, his wife, the back of the car seat, and Deniece’s dorsal ponytail protruding straight up past it, three inches into our field of vision. We watched it wave happily about, its owner totally oblivious to the effect it was having on the vehicle behind her. We were laughing so hard she nearly got rear-ended.

Or, as Deniece might say, “PAAAAAH!”

posted by M. Giant 3:19 PM 0 comments


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