Monday, August 17, 2009


Just a day or two before our trip to Wisconsin, LL learned to clap. He had mastered various hand motions in the past: he's an expert bye-bye waver, an occasional hello waver, an enthusiastic I'm-done-get-that-food-out-of-my-face swiper, and a patient please-pick-me-up-right-now arms extender. But nothing so far compares to the adorableness of LL proudly clapping his little hands, usually accompanied by a big smile and a rousing "Yaaaaaaay!" He has started giving himself a round of applause for all of his accomplishments. Diaper change is over? "Yaaaay!" Knocked over a tower of blocks? "Yaaaay!" Correctly waved bye-bye when somebody was leaving? "Yaaaay!" (This one is particularly amusing, because it always gives the impression that he's happy to see the person leave.) Picked up a cheerio and got it all the way into the mouth? "Yaaaay!" (We have a LOT of clapping at meal times, because he is quite good at self-feeding, but he insists on cheering himself on for each piece of food.)

Now that he is so good at self-congratulations, it's making it easier to teach him new things, because he understands that when we clap for him, he's done something good, and he gets to clap, too. It's powerful incentive to try to mimic what we're teaching. We are now working on blowing kisses and giving high-fives. Every baby needs to know how to high-five in order to be accepted by the cool kids, but we still have a ways to go. I started by putting out my right hand and saying "Give me five!" then taking his hand in my left hand and slapping it lightly onto my right. I thought he was getting it, but now when I put out my right hand and say "Give me five!" he reaches out, grabs my left hand, and places it on my right one. So, he's technically following what I showed him, but he's being a bit too literal for it to actually be cool. What a mama's boy.

One thing that he adamantly refuses to learn is how to crawl. In Wisconsin, my father spent a lot of time on his hands and knees with LL, patiently trying to teach him. LL spent much of his time lying on his belly, with all his favorite toys making a ring around him, just out of reach. My father would lift LL's knees into position, and LL would drop his arms and chest to the floor. My father would lift LL's arms into position, and LL would collapse his legs to the floor. Over and over and over, until LL would finally get tired and just roll over and grab a toy. He kept giving my dad these looks like, "Okay, I'll humor you for a few more rounds, Grandpa, but then I'm grabbing the Humpty Dumpty pull-toy that I know is right behind you."

Nobody who knows me and S at all will be surprised to learn that LL isn't really into physical feats of strength. His big physical accomplishment of the past week was learning how to pull himself up to standing. He's very good at it, but he will only do it if there's something high up that's worth the effort, and so far the only enticements that work are books. Favorite toy sitting on the coffee table? Eh, not worth it. Book on the coffee table? Up he goes! LL is very very into books these days. He is now an expert page-turner, and loves sitting in someone's lap and looking at books. S was convinced that LL knew the words to several of them, because he waited until the end of each page before starting to turn to the next page, until I pointed out that he was actually just waiting for verbal pauses. If you just keep talking beyond what the page says, he'll wait and wait and wait, but as soon as you stop speaking, he reaches for the next page. Which I think is no less impressive, and is very cute. And there is one book that we know he does know the words to. Every night before bed, we read him Kiss Good Night by Amy Hest. A recurring refrain in the book is Mrs. Bear asking, "Ready now, Sam?" and Sam replies, "Oh no! I'm waiting!" When we read this book to LL, every time we say "Ready now, Sam?", LL smiles and shakes his head "no!" in anticipation of the next line.

And, finally, a story about LL's latest willful behavior. He discovered several months ago that when you drop something over the side of the high chair, it falls to the ground. It was clear, though, that he was doing this out of experimentation, as he would lean way over the side of the chair to watch it fall. Lately, however, there has been a distinct shift in his behavior. He clearly understands now that things fall. No need for further study. Now he does it because it's fun. And he understands that he's not supposed to do it. How do I know? Because he no longer watches as it falls. Instead, he holds his hand out over the side of his high chair and pauses, staring straight at me, daring me to stop him. I shake my head and say, "No, LL, we don't drop food on the floor." And then he gets this mischievous grin on his face, and, still staring directly into my eyes, he opens his hand and drops it onto the floor. And then he claps. ("Yaaaay!")

The first time he did this, he was holding a rice puff. The problem with rice puffs, of course, is that they're meant to soften very quickly in baby's mouth. Thus, when a baby holds them in wet hands, they become rather sticky. So when LL tried to defiantly drop the puff over the side of the chair, the puff defiantly refused to unstick itself from his hand. Which, you know, ruined the moment for LL. He spent a full minute continuing his staring contest with me while frantically shaking his hand to make that darned puff fall to the ground. He finally had to break eye contact and use both hands to scrape the puff off his fingers, but he looked rather deflated at his failed attempt to dramatically disobey Mommy.

It was a good learning moment, though. Now he only defiantly drops non-sticky foods like blueberries. Blueberries are much more emphatic, don't you think?


  1. Yay for clapping! Harry still doesn't get clapping *at all*. His only hand motions are waving, extending arms to be picked up, and this funny little move he does (that we thought was just a variation on the wave) to request that something be brought to him when he's being held or in his high chair.

    When we open Kiss Goodnight, Harry gets a big grin on his face. It's his pre-nap book, so I often wonder if he's excited for the book or the nap that follows. He also likes to turn the pages, but he does it somewhat at random. Since by now I know the book by heart, I just continue with the story, regardless of which page is actually showing. This is probably not ideal for his development :)

  2. When I first saw your post I laughed since I had just posted the one about Jillian saying yay. Babies clapping is the most adorable thing. Obviously we are all spending a lot of time cheering our children on :)

  3. I love when babies celebrate, it's soooo cute! Congrats to LL. :)

    I am impressed that he's into reading already. Bean will FINALLY sit for a full book, and he's 17 months old.

  4. ahh the defiance! Monkey is totally into gravity. Ever since he was about LL's age he's been dropping things out of the crib, out of the tub, off the table, out the car window, over the porch, down the hill, down the mountain.....

  5. what a sweet post!!! you're so going to treasure these when LL is a big boy :).


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