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Monday, August 18, 2003  

Deniece at 19 Months

Time for another status report on our niece Deniece, who I’m pretty sure is officially a toddler now. She toddles. I’m not entirely sure what toddle means, but I know she does it. She engages in any number of means of self-contained locomotion. I’m not sure which of them would be considered toddling. Maybe that’s the thing she does where she runs around at top speed with her arms straight up in the air. The higher the speed, the higher the hands. If that’s what toddling is, it would make sense, because I know I’ve never seen an adult do that unless the goal was to look like a toddler.

She’s learned some good stuff in the past month and a half. For instance, her version of Trash’s name is getting shorter and more consistent, which is encouraging. She’s also developed object permanence, the understanding that people and things continue to exist even when she can’t see them. I’m still working on that one myself. We can tell she’s mastered it because she’s also figured out how to ask questions without first learning who, what, why, when, or how. Instead, she just spreads her palms, tilts her head to one side, and says the name of whatever or whoever is on her mind in a comically exaggerated tone of curiosity. So with the exact same word, she’s able to say either “Mommy” or “Where’s Mommy? What’s she doing? When’s she coming back? Why am I here in the living room with you instead of in the kitchen with her? And how is she going to get my lunch off the ceiling, anyway?”

Other new information: the names of colors. Purple is her favorite. Or at least it’s her favorite one to say. As her what color something is and her first answer will always be “poopo.” Ask her again and she sheepishly say “gweeeeen” or “yeoo” or “WED!” but that’s only if you don’t let her get away with “poopo.” She does love to say “poopo.” She is so not naming our next pet.

Her other big project is learning to count to ten. She’s making pretty good progress, and can get through it with some prompting. And not the “say seven” kind of prompting either. The kind when you hold up fingers and have to keep reminding her that she’s not finished after four. Things get a little dicey after five; she keeps wanting to jump ahead to eight. She likes eight as much as she likes purple, apparently.

“What’s after five?”


“No, five…”




“No, six…


“What’s after six? Deniece, what’s after six? Is it five, six, seve—”


That seems to build up her morale for the home stretch. For Christmas, Trash and I have decided to get her a purple eight. It’s exactly what she wants.

That’s if there’s not a merry-go-round nearby, of course. Her parents took her to the Iowa State Fair last week and brought her on the carousel. She clung to her horse, screaming, whooping, and making equine noises while the operator, who must have been profoundly deaf, dozed at the switch. After ten minutes the ride stopped and she got off, ran back around to the entrance, and hollered for another turn, straining against the railing with a desperation that made Meryl Streep in Sophie’s Choice look mildly put out. Deniece’s mom frantically sent my brother-in-law to get more tickets before the child gave herself an aneurysm. Deniece ended up spending most of the afternoon riding around and around on a fiberglass horse, doing a reasonably accurate if alarmingly sustained impression of Slim Pickens at the end of Dr. Strangelove. At least she slept well that night.

When we left yesterday, Deniece insisted on kissing us both goodbye, taking a few moments off from one of her favorite hobbies: blowing spit bubbles. She got to show us affection and dry her lips off on our faces at the same time. Girl has more stuff figured out than I do.

posted by M. Giant 3:30 PM 0 comments


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