21 November 2013 | 06:56 AM
Well, here we are. Fifteen months old, and starting to develop and express some very distinct opinions of his own, Benji brings more joy, exhaustion, and confusion into my life than any other individual I know.
He’s quite stubborn, and now knows what he wants and vociferously protests when those desires aren’t promptly met, especially with food (“No, I can’t let you eat the orange peel. You don’t have any molars to chew it. You’d choke and die.” “Shrieeeeeeek!” [adamantly pointing at the peel]). He also holds up objects for help getting lids off, or for us to manipulate in some way. We’re trying to teach him the sign for “help,” but I haven’t seen him use any of the baby signs we’ve used so far.
Pointing is a primary form of communication, aside from constant babbling and screaming from displeasure, but he also claps and does an incredibly cute question gesture, putting one hand upraised by his face whenever he wonders something or we ask him a question. Usually we can infer the question, but sometimes I’m surprised when I figure it out. The other day, he put his pacifier under a toy and then did the question gesture: “Where is it?” Then he revealed the pacifier to me: ta-da!
At the same time, his receptive language is growing by leaps and bounds. I can ask him to bring me objects, or to please pick up X and put it in Y, and he knows exactly what I’m talking about. He says “bye-bye” and waves at appropriate times when others are on the phone nearby, when we start talking about going somewhere, or (my favorite) when he’s tired of doing something and wants to be done. Last night he said “bye-bye” and headed for his bedroom when he was ready for bed. He also recognises and identifies objects in books, and points them out in real life; wheels and big trucks always elicit excitement, but so do dogs, crows, leafs, people, and many other less easily identified objects. Time and again, he surprises me by responding to words in ways that make it clear he understands what we’re talking about.
His fine-motor skills are good: he stacked two mini-pumpkins the other day, and regularly builds tall towers of his sombrero toys, blocks, or whatever is at hand. He also loves putting things in and out of other things, and just recently started being able to put lids through the slot into our “lid bank.” He rolls his cars around, crawls up the stairs in no time flat, and loves rattles. The maracas we got for working with the ILab at the UW are especially popular (surprise! The baby cognition researchers know what toys babies would like). Unpacking his diaper bag, or any other bag or box, is also a big hit, and I’ll often turn around to see this:
However, he’s still not walking, although he cruises, walks holding our hands, sometimes stands independently, and pulls up/sits down easily. His pediatrician said that some babies are just more cautious, and since Benji has all the skills of walking, we just wait until he gets the motivation to do so. I do see Benji tending to hold back and observe new things, rather than jumping right in without a second thought. Guess we’ll just keep wearing out the knees on his pants until walking proves its use.
All in all, at our 15-month visit the doctor deemed Benji perfectly normal and healthy. I can’t ask for more than that!