We saw Timothy make his first ‘sign’ on Saturday night (though for all we know, he’s been signing to us for months when we were thinking he was just putting his hands in his mouth). T put his fingers together near his mouth, which is the sign for ‘eat’. Unfortunately, his timing could not have been worse, as he did it when we were sitting at an ice cream place — the other four of us with an ice cream cone glued to our hand. And wee man has not been in this family long enough to understand how difficult it is to separate the Lees from their ice cream. Actually, we weren’t sure that chocolate almond butter crunch ice cream would be great for him. We’ll just remember to bring some food for him next time, or maybe T will learn that he needs to be more selective about when he chooses to sign.
Speaking of eating, yesterday I was feeding Timothy his solids (oatmeal, peas and apricots/ apples) when he decided to start biting down on the spoon. After the lunch prankster had done this a few times, I decided to say something about it. As I leaned toward him, T coughed and sprayed strained peas in my face. While I sat in stunned silence, the little man just stared at me and calmly put his food stained bib back into his mouth and waited for the next bite. Maybe that was more sign language.
Timothy has broadened his verbal communication. In the past, he has made sweet sounds back to you and sometime made cute ‘cooing’ sounds. Now he is opting for a more industrial form, something closer to a primal scream (picture a human version of the vuvuzela horns from the soccer World Cup a few years ago).
Anyway, this loud shriek was unsettling but okay when we were at our friends’ the Mendels’ house watching a soccer match. But last night, when Laura and I chose to take TRBL to a nice, small restaurant, we knew that this might be tested. We were greeted and seated by a baby-unsettled maître d’ who tried to ignore the baby in the room while explaining to us the unique theme of the restaurant. As he spoke proudly of their many local dishes, Timothy chose that moment to plant his verbal flag in the restaurant by letting out a loud cry resembling an owl’s screech. A little embarrassing at the time, but it was also the best tool I’ve ever seen for ensuring fast service. T was well behaved during the meal (mostly because we handed him off to friends we saw at the restaurant), but the servers were very attentive and were able to help us eat and get out of that restaurant in record time. A nice win-win.
I coached Catherine’s volleyball team again this winter and we were fortunate to win the championship. After the season, one of the players’ moms complimented my coaching by saying ‘you’re always so positive with the kids’ – and it’s true that I really try to encourage the girls. When I mentioned this ‘always so positive’ comment to Catherine, her response was, ‘Hmmm — really?’ Now, I’m not a jerk at home, but I expect a lot from our kids and am not the sweetheart that I am on the volleyball court (with other people’s kids).
In volleyball, there is often a clear cause and effect – if I make positive comments, the girls support each other more and start playing better immediately. In the rest of life, it’s not so simple. At home, when in a hurry, it’s a lot easier to get what you want by getting angry or directive than to find something supportive to say.
Our girls are smart enough to know that we won’t suddenly become the Up with People family, but learning from the ‘volleyball gap’ and having the four non-baby members in the house look for more opportunities to be supportive and positive would be a good thing for the whole family.
And maybe next time someone will even give Timothy a bite of their ice cream.
Grateful and well fed,