May 2000
Thursday 18 May

My mom made Damian some shirts for his birthday. This morning Dan was putting one on him, a black shirt with colorful cats. Damian thought it was "preddey" (pretty).

This afternoon he and I were stacking blocks. He started counting: "One. Two block. Tree block. Fou." as he stacked each block on the last.

This evening at dinner, he was tossing pasta from his high chair to the table and I told him he would have to stop. He said "Please don't eat at table." I still have no idea what it meant, but it was a hell of a sentence. Far more words than he's strung together in a coherent whole. I put him on my lap, thinking he wanted to sit at the table. I guess he meant the "don't" part, though. He didn't.

Tonight he was running around the house pushing his popper when it came time for his bath. Popper came into the tub with him. I got a photo. If I had a digital camera, I'd show you. Very funny.

Friday 19 May

Damian sometimes pinches my breast as he nurses. I figured out yesterday that he's just got restless hands. I doodle or play solitaire. Same principle. I gave him a ball of play-doh. Did the trick. He squeezed it to his heart's content and forgot about pinching me.

This afternoon Dan was eating roast beef out of the paper package. Damian came up, curious. Dan broke off a bite-sized piece and offered it. Damian took it, brought it to his mouth and pretended to eat it. Then gave it back to Daddy.

Damian helped me unload the dishwasher today. We've been doing this lately -- he takes a plate out of the rack and holds it up for me to take. It gives me heart palpitations, I can't believe those little arms have the strength to hold big heavy dinner plates, but he's done great so far. And he loves that he's helping. A funny thing about it, though: he will only empty from the left side of the rack, so of course once he's taken care of all the dishes within reach, he's screwed. I took his hands and led him to the right side of the dishwasher tonight, but no dice. He wasn't gonna empty from that side. It would have been wrong, you see.

He's been sticking his feet into my shoes and shuffling around lately in classic toddler style. Well, tonight he stuck his foot in my (empty) kleenex box and shuffled around in that.

Saturday 20 May

When I left the house this morning to go to playgroup, Damian was pushing a toy broom around. I told him he could take it with him. So he did. He sat in the stroller, clutching the broom, leaning over the side and sweeping the sidewalk the whole way. After we got there, another kid appropriated it (which was fine, Damian was on to other toys). When we were ready to leave, we found it in the wading pool. Washed and ready to sweep the sidewalks all the way back home.

This afternoon at the mall, he held my hand and walked all the way from the supermarket through the outdoor mall, down the sidewalk, across the street, up the sidewalk and up the escalator to the parking garage. This may not seem like a big deal, but usually our walks are either toddler-led and involve a ton of stops and starts and feints and wanderings or they're parent-guided and involve a stroller or a sling. This was a first.

Sunday 21 May

This morning we went to the farmer's market as usual and as usual, Damian scarfed strawberries the whole way. I lost count, but I'm guessing he ate around twenty berries. He had a strawberry juice beard, berry-stained hands, red splotches on his shirt and on his legs, and the juice had even trickled down his arms. Red boy. When he's done with a berry, he reaches out of his stroller and waits for me to take the leftover bit. Dan asked me how long Damian's been handing me the stems to toss. I couldn't remember. Most kids just toss food when they're done, I think, unless they're taught otherwise. I never taught Damian to hand it to me, but he does. Little neatnick.

I was sitting at the dining table, Damian came over, grabbed my hand. Led me to the cabinet, guided my hand to the latch. Wanted me to open the latch. Guess he thought just saying "open door" wouldn't do the trick. He was right. I opened it for him and he investigated jars for a while, content.

Speaking of doors -- he got really upset this afternoon when he couldn't close the bathroom door all the way. He got mad at it -- it wasn't allowing him to do his self-appointed job. (We find closed doors all over the house these days.)

8:20 pm: I just watched him for a few minutes. He was standing up in the armchair, his hand inside the translucent shade of the floor lamp. I almost jumped up to stop him from tipping it over or getting burned by the light bulb, but then I realized that he had his hand up against the shade and was watching his hand's shadow move in front of the light. Soon enough, he sat down. Then he lay down, feet up in the air. Waved his feet. Enjoyed that. Then rolled over and got down from the chair. Now he's reading Ferdinand to himself.

Monday 22 May

He likes to clamber up onto the window seat and grab handfuls of dirt from the potted plants. He also knows this is strictly forbidden. Last night I found him up there with a toy shovel, shoveling the dirt onto the window seat. I think he thought he'd found a loophole. ("Look, ma, no hands!")

We watched the gardener next door today, as we do most Monday mornings. Damian loves to watch people at work. This time he brought over his toy lawnmower and watched the guy carefully, mowing in the same exact forward-back rhythm. Mowing in sync. Later, when the gardener had disappeared around the back of the house, Damian picked up the full-sized rake and started raking the pathway. Later still (I told you, gardening is fun), he found the dog's water bowl and started stuffing it with dry brown leaves. Poor dog. Later still, the gardener was trimming the edges of the grass and Damian followed close at his heels clutching a single large brown leaf. The gardener likes him a lot. Good thing.

Tuesday 23 May

Gloria comes to clean our house biweekly. Damian loves watching her work, of course. In fact, last time he grabbed his toy wagon and moved it in sync with her while she vacuumed (our vacuum cleaner bears a remarkable resemblance to that wagon in general shape). Just like he did yesterday with the gardener and the lawnmower. Well, this morning, practically as soon as Gloria put her jacket and her walkman down on the window seat, Damian got out his wagon. Then he grabbed her by the hand. He led her straight to the vacuum cleaner and put her hand right on it. Time to play the vacuuming game. We explained that she didn't necessarily vacuum as soon as she walked in the door but that she would later. And she did. And he did too. With alacrity.

This morning Dan was organizing Damian's toy chest and taking out all Damian's old rattles and baby toys. He pulled out a shape sorter, then handed Damian the shapes to sort. Damian got every one right without hesitation. As recently as a month or two ago, he was hesitant and easily frustrated. Something happened in the interim, his brain matured in just the right way, and it became easy. My hunch is that it's linked to speech. Speech exploded, so did this kind of analyzing skill.

This evening, Damian was playing with a little turtle on wheels, rolling it around on the floor and on a living room chair. Dan was running the bath water. We could hear it faintly in the distance. I said, "Don't you want a bath? A bubble bath?"

No interest.

"You can bring your turtle."

Damian: "Bring turtle." Then he rolled it one more time along the arm of the chair. At which point Dante (ensconced in the chair) batted at it. Oh, that was fun. Had to do that again. And again, periodically saying "turtle" until Dan came in and escorted Damian to the tub.

And yes, Damian brought his toy turtle into the bathtub.

Wednesday 24 May

He's been having fun with this whole walking thing for months, walking on tiptoes or walking sideways like a crab. Today's walk: on the balls of his feet, toes curled under.

Outside on our daily perambulation around the block, Damian picked up a small stone and tossed it in typical toddler fashion. I said "skip-doodle" for no particular reason. He loved that. So he fetched the stone and threw it again. We went down the entire block this way. Damian got good at throwing the stone so it would skitter across the concrete. Then he discovered something even better -- if it hits a manhole cover, it makes a wonderfully metallic sound. And that sound is different as the stone hits different manhole covers. Yup, we found out by on-site testing.

Tonight Dan was eating chevre on crackers. Damian pointed to it and said, "ice cream." (well, "eye cream.") The odd thing about this is that we haven't had any ice cream in the house since last summer, when he was definitely preverbal. But he was right, it did look like ice cream.

Thursday 25 May

It's not such a great idea to let your two year old stay unattended in the living room even if you know the living room is essentially childproof. You might go back in there after a few minutes away to discover said two year old sitting on the kitchen table, industriously shaking the salt shaker, spilling salt all over the table and floor. I think it was the shit-eating grin that got me. I kept a straight face, though. I suspect giggling wouldn't have given him quite the message I was aiming for.

This evening he put on a grownup sized baseball cap and pushed his popper around the house. Looking for all the world like a gardener wearing a hat while mowing the lawn. Maybe that's why? The cap slid sideways and made him look like an urchin. An urchin who couldn't see.

Friday 26 May

We took a trip to Long Beach today. We rode the Metro down there, just to have the experience. Damian was rather enchanted with the underground tunnel part of the trip, somewhat less glued to the window for the above ground part. He loved the Long Beach Aquarium. We took him last year but he wasn't even walking yet. Totally different experience this time. We pointed out the first big fish tank and he made a beeline for it. He was enchanted, putting his hand up to the glass to "touch" the fish, running from one tank to another and just racing down the hall for fun. He had a great time.

Yesterday I was talking to myself as I was writing, I said "six or seven?" Damian, sitting next to me on the bed, piped up: "eight."

I've decided it's impossible to calculate how many words he knows now. Tonight he was naming cookie (really play-doh) cutters -- "dog", "car", "butterfly." Butterfly?? (Sounded like "buttaflee." But still.)

He's starting to use language more to ask for things, too. This morning he said "bread", wanting (my homemade) bread for breakfast. This evening he said "bathtub" when it was clear nobody was planning to give him a bath in the near future. He got his wish, too. Language is a powerful thing.

Saturday 27 May

Dan took Damian grocery shopping this afternoon. As usual when food shopping with Damian, the first stop was to pick up some strawberries which Damian ate while sitting in the shopping cart being wheeled around. Dan started by handing him a strawberry. Damian would eat it and return the stem, exchanging it for a new berry. Dan got tired of this, so he set the basket down next to Damian so he could select his own. Damian did -- with one twist -- he picked a berry out and handed it to Dan so Dan could give it to him. A two year old's mind is a miracle of ritual. The ritual was for Daddy to give Damian the berry and that was how it had to be.

We hosted a poker game tonight. We were very worried about Damian; we figured we'd take turns kid-wrangling. Didn't end up needing to. Damian joined the table and ate spaghetti (which he got ALL over his face), then he amused himself for quite a while on his own. Then he started playing to the crowd: doing cute things and giggling a lot, peeking out to see if everyone was paying attention. By the end of the evening, he was comfortable with everyone and responding more warmly than I've ever seen him to with relative strangers. I think because everyone was laughing and having a good time, Damian relaxed. Then he learned how much fun it is to have an audience.

Sunday 28 May

This afternoon at the library, Damian ran to the hallway to the children's section and then stopped. I realized he was stopping at the edge of the carpet. I escorted him past the edge and onto the tile. He was fine again until he got to the next bit of carpet. Dead stop again. And again at the next patch of tile. I still don't know what prompted this. Reminds me of kid games about not stepping on the cracks in the sidewalk.

We went to a New Age bookstore after the library. I did the kid wrangling. Kid investigated the various fascinating objects at convenient kid height. Mostly glass candleholders or ceramic incense holders. I had to keep telling him "it's glass, be gentle." After which he'd set the object down and go on to something else. I was rather impressed. He finally settled on candles. They're not breakable. He held each one out to me to check out. I smelled it, said it smelled yummy, did he want to smell too? And he'd hold the candle to his nose to smell too.

Tonight at dinner my "I only eat red food" boy eyeballed an asparagus stalk on my plate. I gave it to him, figuring he'd play with it and then ignore it. Nope. He ate half of it. Then nibbled my corncob (I left a patch of corn for him). I nearly fainted in shock.

Monday 29 May

Damian's gotten into glasses lately. He loves taking my glasses or sunglasses right off my face and putting it on his, then running around looking at the world through distorted or at least darkened lenses. He giggles a lot when he does it. Probably because we think it's so damned cute. So today we bought him his very own pair of sunglasses. They're very round, with red frames. Dan says Damian looks like Paul Schaeffer from David Letterman with them on. Damian got a big kick out of putting them on, taking them off, handing them to Dan to put on (they don't exactly fit, they look like cartoon glasses on him), etc. I don't know if he'll ever keep them on long enough to be functional in the harsh sunlight, but what the hell. They make a great toy.

A moment from this afternoon: I was sitting on the kitchen floor, spooning yogurt into a very eager tot's mouth. Felt like a mother bird feeding her nestling. Especially when he craned his neck forward so he could be directly over the food dish. Made it hard. I sat him in my lap and finished feeding him. It's a nice feeling after your kid has been self-feeding for a long time to have a chance to spoon food into his waiting mouth. I felt all maternal and gooey. (And his face and hands were extremely gooey, come to think of it.)

Tuesday 30 May

I can always tell when Damian's awakened from his nap these days by the telltale sound of a light switch clicking on and off. I open the door and he's standing in his crib by the door with a shit-eating grin. Well, except yesterday. As soon as he heard the door open, he scooted to the far end of the crib. Trying to fake me out. It was very funny. He thought so too.

Damian actually kept his new sunglasses on for half our circuit around the block today -- a good twenty minutes, I'd say. They're a little big and kept sliding down his nose. He pushed them up with his hand. Looked so grownup doing that. When he was done with them, he handed them to me to put away.

We went a little further afield today -- a whole new block. Which turns out to have a rabbit living on it (behind wire mesh, of course). Damian sat and communed with the rabbit for a long while. He pushed little pellets through the mesh. I think the bunny liked that. I think we'll be back.

Wednesday 31 May

Damian's in this mimicking-with-understanding stage: "Let's go home and have some lunch. Would you like tuna and raspberries and maybe some juice?" "Tuna. Rabrees." It's useful, too -- I know he knows what I'm saying; I also know he's prepared for what's coming next. In other words, that he won't fuss when we go inside the house; he expects lunch and is fine with the sequence of events. Obvious stuff, perhaps. But a revelation in how fast it happens, how much he understands, how different our interaction has become.

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