One of the most obvious developments for Reindeer over the last month is language.
Where he started with ‘dadaDADADAdada’ he now has lots of different sounds that he experiments with. ‘Na’ is the second most common, but we also have ‘ma’, ‘ba’, ‘ra’, ‘yih’, ‘yeh’, ‘neh’ and (I’m approximating here) ‘djudghzzzz’. The occasional hiss and ‘luh’ sound too. He gradually combining the different sounds so I now get ‘uh-duh’ with hands opening and closing which means water. Whole conversations begin ‘ah-nah-nuh-da-DA-tsjdh-schoo-na-AH’. These are great fun because I love making up scenarios to discuss.
Tonally there is a lot of variation, likewise with volume and intensity. He has different sounds when he’s excited, happy, tired, frustrated, cross and sad.
Frustration is largely new for him and usually occurs when he’s tired or when he’s expecting something to happen and it doesn’t, e.g., he’s in his high chair and the food isn’t cool enough to eat immediately (*sigh*).
At the moment he’s very much into pushing his wheeled toys around the house, usually accompanied by lots of shouting and squeaking. When he’s tired he’ll lie on the floor and push the vehicles, quietly at first, but then with frustrated half cries because he wants to do something but it’s too tiring.
He also has actions to go with words now. He’s getting pretty good with waving hello and goodbye, clapping and high-fiving. When he’s very sleepy, often around feed times, he’ll make quiet sounds and wave, clap or make some other arm movement; I’d really love to know what he’s thinking at those times! Sometimes he looks at his hands and arms in total confusion as they’re moving about but he isn’t sure why.
Facial expressions have always been fascinating with Reindeer. He’s mastered the knack of raising only one eyebrow and has a huge number of expressions to go with his mood. One of my favourites is his ‘little old man’ face where he juts his jaw and looks really serious.
Recently I’ve noticed him moving his jaw a lot, trying different shapes to see what sound comes out. He’s also developed a frustrated face where he scrunches up the area between his eyes, resulting in an inadvertent Ferengi impression.
He’s gradually responding to some questions and instructions too, e.g., would you like some water? (looks for/reaches for cup), Come here, please (usually he starts towards me then gets distracted and diverts), Pass me the spoon, please (initially he refused to let go of the spoon but usually hands it over with a smile now – before almost immediately putting a hand out to get it back!).
The last few months of development have been a whirlwind to watch so I can only imagine how confusing it must be for Reindeer. It’s no wonder he isn’t always sleeping as well as I’d like. He’s happy though, and that’s worth a few sleepless nights!