Monday, March 06, 2006

Smart Baby Girl, Half-Crazed Baby Girl

Veronica is 16 months old. Grace took Isaac to a counseling appointment, and his counselor came in the waiting room and said "my office has moved -- I'm in room 9." Isaac went to his appointment.

Later, Veronica got bored in the waiting room. She walked down the hall and looked at the room numbers on the doors. She went right up to room 9 and knocked on the door!

It seems that maybe those alphabet and number videos are doing something useful after all.

I got her a Little Touch LeapPad (a sort of baby laptop) hoping that she would play with it when her mom used her laptop. So far it is not a great success. She loves to push the on/off button, because it says "bye-bye" when it goes off, and she knows what "bye-bye" means. But it is not actually a very well-designed toy for the baby to actually use herself: it requires that someone (presumably the adult) push a button to tell it when you have turned the page, and then a second button if you are using one of the separate activity pages.

The touch-sensitive area requires a fair amount of force on a finger-tip in order to register the touch, which is probably why Vera prefers to push the hardware on/off button, which is easy to push and produces a predictable response. When she touches the pad, she prefers to bang on or lean on the tablet part, which gets an unpredictable response, so it is not really rewarding for her. She can draw with a crayon, so she ought to be able to touch images in the book, but it is not working out well. The booklet pages are not tearable (they are Tyvek), which is good, but they can be marked with a crayon, much to Veronica's delight and my frustration.

She treats it a bit like the way she treats her cookie monster toy: instead of playing with it as intended, which is to feed it cookies and listen to it say "Me want cookie!" and then "Yum yum yum yum -- thanks for cookie!" or "Oops, no cookie," she figured out that if she holds his mouth shut, he will make a horrible machine-gun ratcheting sound, which she finds infinitely more entertaining than his talking and animated mouth. She even figured out how to wedge it under a lamp or table so it will continue to make that noise until the battery runs down, so that she doesn't have to hold it with her hands. Maybe that makes her a geek at heart.

Trying to get her to listen to me read the story and trigger the sounds, or do it herself, has not been a big success. But she seems to be approaching developmental tasks out-of-order: she just now has started to occasionally crawl, which she originally skipped entirely in favor of running. She likes to put the LeapPad booklets neatly away in the little laptop bag, and it is funny to see my own behavior patterns reflected back at me!

Her hair is out of control, and it is about time for her first haircut. I don't think we can put it off until her second birthday -- to many knots, even when we comb it out every day. Although maybe I will see if I can find a baby conditioner.

Her personality is a little bit out of control as well -- she is approaching the terrible twos early. She doesn't scream "no" yet, but she is getting close. She is drawing on the wall with her crayons -- something Isaac apparently never did.

She can understand us when we tell her and show her not to do that, but pretends not to -- the "I'm just a sweet and innocent baby!" act. If you take away the object of her current interest, she throws herself on the floor, shrieking as loudly as she can -- which is quite loud! -- the "I'm going to make the neighbors think you are beating me" act.

She is nothing if not strong-willed! Quite a challenging little girl to deal with. And everytime she acts out, Isaac gets in on the act in another way: getting angry, or frustrated. Getting angry at a sixteen-month-old girl for being naughty is like getting angry at a thundrstorm for ruining your picnic plans -- utterly pointless -- hence, Isaac's counseling. I thought I had learned some useful skills working with Isaac from age 5 to 11, but clearly I have more parenting to learn -- and our children are very different!

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