Thursday, January 7, 2016

A is for Apple

Recently, I've been able to communicate with my son. He cannot only point, emphatically shake his head and nod and say a few words, "mama" (which he knows to parse out in order to retain its manipulative worth), "dada", "voda" (water in Serbian) and "apple" among a few others, but it's made a world of difference. I find it interesting what he chooses to say in Serbian and what in English. From his reactions, he appears to understand both. If I tell him to pick something up and hand it to me, in either language, he will do so. I suppose he says what is easiest for him to pronounce - "voda" is easier than "water" and "apple" is far easier than "jabuka" for developing vocal chords. He is also picking up signs - he signs when he is finished with eating, he signs back happily when we signal bath time. Now that he can say "apple", he can ask for it even when there is no apple to which he can point. Every week his communication increases exponentially and it's an amazing rise to watch.

As he understands more, he is also negotiating the boundaries of what is and is not allowed. It seems the "terrible twos" start from 1, right at the start of the second year of life. He relishes our reaction when he starts throwing food on the ground and has a particular cry when he simply wants something he can't have (more appropriately a whine). Hubby and I have resolved that if he is testing the boundaries, we must strictly enforce our border patrol. After all, as a common force, he gives up, understanding he can't win. If one of us should crumble, he could easily manipulate us against the other and we will be mere putty in his hands.

I must admit I am totally winging it. At times, I am admittedly too tired and give in to his whining, as long as what he wants is not dangerous. At other times, I've found the only way to relate to him, for speaking calmly and explaining the situation does not work, is to give him what he wants in a controlled environment so he sees on his own skin that what I warned was right. For instance, he was furious that I was not sharing my extremely spicy basil chicken with him. In protest, he started throwing his own dinner on the kitchen floor and wailing away. For a while, I calmly explained that it was too spicy for him and would hurt his tongue and later his stomach and that he had much healthier food in front of him. In response, he threw a piece of cucumber in my face. I then resorted to Plan B. I stuck my finger in the sauce, took the tiniest piece of chicken, ensuring there were no chili pieces on it and gave him a bite. The look on his face was at first pure surprise, which seconds later, as his face swept incarnadine, concluded in a piercing cry. I calmly went to the fridge and poured a glass of milk in a cup and told him to drink it. After downing the milk in record time, he no longer asked for my meal and passively continued to eat his own.


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