Two years old: Memory

Reindeer continually surprises us with his memory.

A few months ago we noticed that he was starting to recite passages of dialogue from his favourite stories.

Now, he will read the whole of several of his favourite stories at random points during the day. Quite often I’ll hear ‘A mouse took a stroll…’ as he starts his favourite – The Gruffalo.

Other favourites include The Gruffalo’s Child, The Bear and The Piano and Ten Wishing Stars.

He also recites passages of dialogue from Hey Duggee or Peter Rabbit – the two tv shows he occasionally watches.

A few weeks ago he began to act out some of these scenes with his cars and will substitute character names for his car names.

At bath time he will mimic the frog from Room on the Broom as he washes.

He’s started to sing, too, even though he can be quite forceful about me only singing at certain times. Since his sister was born I’ve been singing more than usual – he has lots of songs he requests – but the one which he’ll now sing solo and unpromoted is I Can Sing A Rainbow. Listening to Reindeer practice modulating his pitch and tone is fascinating, as well as heating him get to grips with timing and phrasing.

It’s fascinating to watch this staged of development and I’m astounded by how much he retains.

Although the recall is there, his understanding of context is still catching up. He is yet to get to grips with a lot of the emotional content/implication. That said, his sense of humour is developing apace.

Despite being so familiar with the text and dialogue, he isn’t yet at the point where he can/will answer questions on what he’s saying. This will come with time, I suspect.

Until then, I’m grateful that Julia Donaldson has written so many good books – for a book lover like myself it’s a real treat to share a second literary childhood with my own children.

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Two years old: eight busy months

In the weeks before his second birthday, Reindeer became a big brother.

That was a somewhat unbelievable eight months ago and I just can’t figure out how the time has gone so quickly. I’m running on an average of 3 hours of broken sleep each night so you’d think it’d go slowly since I’m experiencing much more of each day and night!

Reindeer found the initial adjustment to having a baby sister quite tough. She was a planned c-section so I couldn’t lift him as normal for a month. Luckily, he was happy to try all the new climbing adjustments for his high chair/bath access/car and so treated that side of things as an adventure.

As he is still breastfeeding, the first couple of weeks I was often tandem feeding baby and toddler so that Reindeer wouldn’t feel jealous. This worked well and it didn’t take long before he decided he’d rather wait until she’d finished her milk before having his. As soon as she was finished he took to saying “Daddy, take baby, want milk”!

Bed times in particular were hard work though, as he would sometimes have to wait for his sister to settle – never popular. We have a good routine now though which allows me time with each of them as well as some relaxed reading time with Reindeer, which he loves.

It has been any exhausting journey to this point, but it is so wonderful to see them together. Reindeer has accepted his sister far faster than I’d imagined. He will sit next to her when playing, they tussle over toys. In the bath he will wash her hair and make her laugh. In turn, he is her favourite person ever. She will look for him everywhere and has a huge smile just for him.

It’s exhausting. But worth it.

Week 98 – counting

In an unexpected turn of events, Reindeer has suddenly begun to count. 

He’s been fascinated by numbers for a while now; loves looking at bar codes and gets very excited by the numbers he sees day-to-day, e.g., at the supermarket or in books. 

One of his first words was the number ‘nine’. He seems to find it in all sorts of places and takes great delight in turning sixes upside down to create extra nines. 

A couple of weeks ago he moved on to the number eight and began noticing/responding to eights with the same enthusiasm as nines. Then, a few days ago, he suddenly counted to five – almost out of nowhere. It was the first indication we had that he could even say four and five. 

In a very short space of time he’s taken to counting up to (and down from) ten repeatedly during the day. Sometimes whilst playing or walking on the stairs, sometimes just whilst sitting and thinking. He seems to love the pattern of the numbers. 

The only number he doesn’t say is seven – I don’t know if this is because he finds it hard to pronounce, he says some two syllable words – or whether he just doesn’t like the way it sounds/feels to say. 

Either way, it’s amazing to watch him coming to grips with counting and applying it in different situations. As he’s gaining confidence with numbers, I’ve noticed him start to show the same early interest signs in letters, too. It seems this particular development leap is the most fascinating yet! 

Week 92 – cakes!

The weather has been pretty miserable here this week, so today we took the opportunity to try something new: making crispie cakes. 

Reindeer and I have never cooked together before but he’s fascinated by cooking and will always ask ‘up!’ while I’m preparing food so he can see what I’m making and check the ingredients. 

Because I doubted his ability to get through a recipe without trying to eat the ingredients I chose a basic crispie cake recipe, which we personalised with some extras that we love. 

Reindeer was fascinated throughout, carefully examining the ingredient packets and checking the numbers on the scale as we weighed each item out. While I melted the chocolate and butter he was busy putting silicone cake cases in the tray and helping himself to spare sultanas! 

For months he’s been raiding the utensil drawer and taking his finds to his toy kitchen to play with so, when the time came to put all the ingredients together and mix, he had a lot of fun and, to my surprise, made minimal mess. 

As soon as mixing was complete he was very quick to get the spoon in his mouth for tasting, so I retrieved the mix and filled the cases. We shared the little left at the end. 

It was really fun and I was impressed that he stayed interested (and stood safely on the chair) throughout. I’m thinking it’s time to invest in a no-bake cookbook for future rainy days! 

Week 92 – favourites

It’s been a while since I’ve thought about this, but Reindeer’s favourite things list is changing again. I want to keep track of things like this (since Reindeer arrived my sentimental side has asserted itself) and so the list is as follows:

  1. Vehicles: preferably of the wheeled variety, although he enjoys watching for and flying aeroplanes, complete with ssshhhhing noises
  2. Numbers: hours of fascination here, he loves all numbers and spots them everywhere. Supermarkets are great fun with aisle numbers, prices, barcodes, quantities, etc. We’ve recently found the Numberblocks series which is only adding to his enjoyment
  3. Butterflies: he loves to spot butterflies in books. Oliver’s Wood has a whole page of them and we can spend a long time describing each one
  4. Hey Duggee: the other show he watches. We have a couple of the magazines too and it’s something that makes him laugh as well as absorbing his attention. The first time they counted to ten, he cheered them
  5. Bathtime: he’s recently discovered lying on his back in the bath and will happily spend up to an hour playing in there at night before playing peek-a-boo with the aid of his hooded towel. His laughter and sheer enjoyment of this simple game is infectious

There are lots of other things he does that we love to watch and are our favourites. They include:

  1. The banana song: Reindeer loves bananas and basically sings ‘na na na na na na’ to himself if he sees one or is very keen to eat one
  2. His curiosity: he is endlessly fascinated by his surroundings and will happily people watch for ages​ at a time
  3. His determination: Reindeer isn’t one to give up. If he sees something new, or finds something fascinating, he’ll keep trying it or will fiddle with it until he’s sure he knows what it does. This has included 20+ trips around the same apparatus to use a slide, dismantling toys and brushing his hair with the pastry brush he filched from the utensil drawer I hadn’t realised he could reach
  4. Cuddles: although very independent, he’s recently become far more of a snuggle child. It’s so lovely to be shown this affection! 
  5. Breastfeeding: we’re still breastfeeding, although only twice a day now and not at bedtime. I was worried about dropping the bedtime feed, but he’s suddenly found that he can self-settle without milk. I’m slightly taken aback by this as I was expecting to need to look into sleep training eventually, but he seems to have hit his stride and about half the nights in the last fortnight he’s gotten himself to sleep without my company. On the one hand I’m really pleased since he’s done this himself I feel he must be ready. On the other hand I miss cuddling him to sleep. There’s definitely a lesson here somewhere about never winning at parenting!

Reindeer is changing so fast that, some days, I don’t feel like I’m keeping up. In the last two days he’s started using a spoon properly and feeding himself yogurt, etc. It’s definitely an adventure though and one I’m really enjoying!

Week 86 – unexpected skills

So, this week Reindeer has been demonstrating some of his new skills – not all of which have been met with joy (by me at least)!

Unlocking the back door: he climbed on the vacuum cleaner, turned the key and opened the door using the handle. I was impressed because of the action sequence, unimpressed because had he succeeded in opening the door fully he’d have landed face first on the patio. 

Opening tins of food: Reindeer had always been fascinated by the contents of the larder cupboard, so we’ve let him explore and play with some of the small tins. This week I was washing up whilst he played next to me with one of the tins. I suddenly realised I could smell something. Looking down I could see that he’d figured out the ring pull and opened the can a quarter – enough for its teriyaki sauced contents to be all over him. Unperturbed, he was happily finger painting them all over the floor too. I’m impressed that he opened the can as I have trouble with them, I was unimpressed with the mess!

Flushing the toilet: Reindeer loves water play and, unfortunately, will put his hand in the toilet bowl if he can get to one. Consequently, we’ve put a lock on the bathroom toilet lid and kept the en suite and downstairs toilet doors closed. He’s recently learned to open doors so the downstairs loo had a lock rapidly added to the seat this week. Thinking all was now safe, I wasn’t as concerned as normal when he opened the door to the hall. Until I heard flushing sounds. Investigation showed he’d climbed onto the seat when he couldn’t open it and was playing with the flush handle. Impressed at his ability to find new challenges, unimpressed with the potential water wastage. 

Opening the baby gate: for obvious reasons we have a baby gate at the top of the stairs. When i got dressed a few days ago I heard Reindeer by the gate. This isn’t unusual as he likes to look downstairs. What was unusual was hearing the sound of the gate being opened. I shot onto the landing to find he’d opened the gate, walked down two steps and close the gate behind himself. He saw me and gave himself a round of applause. I was impressed he’d manipulated what I’d assumed to be a baby proof gate and unimpressed at all the ramifications of this. Thankfully he’s left it alone since.

There are various other scrapes he’s gotten into this week, but these are the ones which have caused me the most anxiety! It’s so strange to be impressed and exasperated at the same time. 

Week 86 – purple

Reindeer still loves reading and, as he’s getting older, the range of books is increasing. The artwork in the new books is also becoming of interest. 

In particular he’s fascinated by The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle and I’m The Best by Lucy Cousins. In each book there is a title page containing lots of colour spots. 

A couple of weeks ago, each time he chose The Very Hungry Caterpillar, he would begin on the title page and point to each purple colour spot on the page, asking me to say ‘purple’ at the same time. There are lots of colour spots on the page – lots of different colours – so I was quite intrigued and impressed when he always chose the same colour. 

Around the same time he began going to the colour spot page in I’m The Best. There are fewer spots and fewer colours, but he will always choose the yellow spots first for naming, then brown, blue and green. 

It’s fascinating to see him pick something specific from all of the visual information presented. If I can’t see the colour he’s pointing at clearly, and then name it incorrectly, he’ll keep prompting me until I name the colour correctly. From this and his ability to choose the correct toy based on make and colour, I’d guess he knows about 10-12 colours now. 

I don’t know why, but this surprises me. Most likely this is because I have no idea which order and how quickly children develop. It’s great fun to watch though and I’m curious to see what takes his interest next.