Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Junior Update: the Helper Toddler

Sometime in the last month, something in Junior's brain hit the accelerator. My little peanut, who at age one could only scream incoherently with excitement, hunger, or thirst, and whose only word for the last two months was "More!", has now mastered numerous words in English and Tagalog, including:

  • eyes/mata
  • nose/ilong
  • belly/tiyan
  • buhok (hair)
  • paa (feet)
  • kamay (hands)
  • ngipin (teeth)
  • bubble
  • waffle
  • apple
  • pasta
  • isda (fish)
  • doggie
  • truck
  • bus
  • bird
  • bisikleta (bicycle)
  • dahon (leaf)
  • puno (tree)
  • airplane
  • unan (pillow)
  • shoes
  • medyas/socks
  • down/baba cetera.

And he goes "Uh-oh!" or "Hala!" whenever he drops something, which is often.

Apart from his impressive linguistic growth, he is now capable of frankly terrifying feats, including clambering up on our bar stools and scaling the living room table so he can dance from an elevated stage. I think we've successfully discouraged tabletop climbing and dancing, but have allowed him to sit at the counter like a big boy:

Tucking into breakfast at the counter

Since he hangs out with me in the kitchen a lot, I've had to impart an important concept: "mainit," to which he responds: "Hot!" The initial teaching of heat was in the form of letting him briefly touch my mug full of piping hot coffee in the mornings. However, one event seared the concept into his memory: I was carrying him to show him the rice cooker, pointing out that it was hot. His little hand shot out, just as a burst of steam erupted from the steam hole in the lid. After I made sure he wasn't burned, when he finished wailing I said, "Mainit!" And that was that.

Impressed by his cognitive development, I decided it was now time to begin his formal training as Mommy's Little Helper. This continues a tradition by my mother, who employed me as her Coke, and later Diet Coke, runner as a child. At meal times, I would stand at attention while she savored every morsel of her multiple courses, and when she barked, "Kunan mo ko ng Coke!" (get me a coke) I would run to the fridge and back with a 2-liter bottle like a diabetes-bearing missile.*

*parts of this story may be exaggerated

Step 1: Self-Service
Anyway, the first step in training Junior to be a Helper was to familiarize him with the concept of self-service. For example, in the past couple of weeks he started bringing me his nursing pillow when I said, "Dede?" (Nurse?) as part of his bedtime routine. Then he realized that the pink kidney-looking abomination had to be there for him to nurse, followed by the idea that if he brought it over, he could control the time of nursing. Sweet deal, if you ask me.

BYONP (bring your own nursing pillow)

Self-dressing is part of step #1, but this one we have to delay because he doesn't quite have the coordination yet. I shudder to think of the blood and the howling when he inevitably zippers his own chin.

Step 2: Tidying Up
After self-service, the next step is to have him help me put things away. At home, his training consists of helping me make the bed in his room by handing me the pillows on the floor:

He actually can't even lift this pillow above his waist

He also knows to grab a towel from the kitchen rack to wipe up spills -- which, you guessed it, he himself caused -- so he can wipe them up. This is some Inception stuff right here, folks. Hilariously, his reaction to spilled popcorn is the same: "Punas, punas!" (wipe, wipe) Still teaching him to pick up the kernels instead of spreading them across the floor via wiping.

Yesterday he unlocked another achievement: when we got home, I stopped him mid-scamper to the bar stool to ask him to put his shoes on the shoe rack -- which he did!!! Hurrah!!!

Meanwhile, Daddy sets an example every night by putting toys away during wind down time, which has the added bonus of reducing both our chances of getting impaled by a tiny car when one of us rushes in to soothe him at 4AM.

Step 3: Opening Doors
At daycare, when requested, he opens the door to the stroller closet (the only door he can reach). He's been doing an admirable job, except for blocking the doorway when I go to lug in his chariot. We're working on it.

Step 4: That Thing I Don't Like Doing
The final step, obviously, is to have him do his own laundry, because it's low on my list of fun household activities. (Since you asked, my favorite home task is making coffee.) While the picture below is meant to fool you into thinking he can actually do this, in fact he just loves twisting the knob for the different wash settings, and also he learned to say "cheese" for the camera, so...yeah. Although he did load the towels into the washing machine when I asked! Baby steps, baby steps. When he can start reading I'll have him actually set the wash cycle and press start.

Final step: do my own laundry!
In summary, Junior has attained a new level of cuteness (I must capture his adorable dinosaur roaring, chubby fists clenched, on video) and smarts. I am very proud. You can call me Braggy McMomface. And yes, I know the Terrible Twos and/or Threes is/are coming. Just let me have this moment!

TL;DR: At 18 months, Junior can understand enough to follow some orders.

This post brought to you by pork sinigang!

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