Before now, I had thought of 19 months as one of the lesser landmarks in a kid's life. One of the "forgotten months", part of that mysterious chunk of time that occurs after a kid turns one-and-a-half but before he reaches two, a phase where he basically just kills time until his next big milestone.
Ironically, in terms of development, this month has been the most significant one since Alex started walking. Literally, it was as if his brain wrinkled up over night, and all of a sudden he would repeat every word that we said to him. In the two days after we got back from Eldo, he debuted more than half a dozen words. In fact, I think he has nearly doubled his vocabulary since last month, including words he says regularly and those which require prompting.
His favorite phrase, by far, is "uh-oh, broke!", which he utters when he drops something, when we turn the TV or the radio off, when something comes apart, when his toys don't seem to be working right...you get the picture. He loves numbers and letters in general, although he can only say "one" and "five" while holding up the appropriate number of fingers. In fact, I think that's what's preventing him from catching on to the other ones - he can't figure out how to get his fingers to work, and that is somehow linked to his ability to say them. It's just a theory...
He is always pointing out letters in his books and on signs and boxes and clothes - anywhere he finds letters, he will point to each one and say "O". Just "O". If you show him the word "mama", and ask him what it says, he will tell you "O, O, O, O", pointing to each letter along the way. Funny, he will repeat most words when we ask him to, but he is much more stubborn about individual letters and numbers. Thing is, I think he is kind of obsessed with "O's" in general. He says "circle" when I ask him to (more like "cirle" - that second syllable is a doozy), loves for me to draw circles, balls, anything round, and recently he has learned to draw a circle himself, albeit a wonky, pointy, lopsided one. One of his other favorite words is "round", and if he sees a circle or a ball or a wheel turning or anything else of that nature, he will stick out his pointer finger and move it in a big circle while saying "round".
Another popular one - and I rue the day I taught him this - is the phrase "one more", typically used in reference to reading books before bedtime. I am such a sucker when it comes to reading to him, and I will sit in the rocking chair and read to him for forty-five minutes as long as he keeps bringing me books. I finally tried to put my foot down and started telling him "one more", (which usually turns into "two more" or "three more", but that's beside the point). Now, whenever we finish a book, he jumps off my lap, sticks his finger up, says "one more", and brings me another book to read. How do you say no to that?
He can say most of his animal noises now, at least the ones that we have thought to teach him. He knows what a cows says, a cat (although his cat sounds like it's sick and might be dying), a dog, a snake, a bird, a duck, a chicken, a rooster (sorta, sometimes), a lion, a tiger, and a sheep. The poor piggy and monkey and horsie sort of fell by the wayside - I guess we need to work on those...
He can also say all the parts of the face as he points them out, although he is particularly fascinated with ears and eyelashes. When he is in a goofy mood, he will stick his hands out in front of him and say "back" while he shuffles backwards acrross the room. We have recently taught him to say "thank you", as well, which sounds more like "dane-doo", but he uses it in the appropriate context, so that's a good start.
Anyway, the list goes on and on, but I'm not going to bore you with the rest. Point is, we are having tons of fun watching him learn so many new things and look forward to what he will say next. That pretty much concludes the vocabulary portion of this post. Except to say that, being able to communicate better seems to have made Alex aware of how much he still can't say, and that has led to umpteen hissyfits and whining and frustrated tears. Alex gets kind of upset, too. We often have to look him in the eye and remind him that he can use words to tell us what he wants, and after a few simple questions, we can usually come to an understanding. But that whining, oooh, the whining. Dealing with that there requires a lot more patience than I have. I guess these things are what characterize the "Terrible Twos". Just my luck, the kid decides to start his terrible twos at 18 months...
So with the exception of the whining situation, the fact that A is talking more is good news. And now for the bad news.
The bad news is that my child has become the class bully and is in imminent danger of being expelled from school. He went back to M.D.O. on the Tuesday after we got back from Eldo, and when I picked him up that afternoon, his teacher informed me that he had bit one of the other kids. I apologized and told her that he had never bit anyone else before, which is technically true. Occasionally he will throw a fit and pretend to bite me, but he will not actually close his teeth, and sometimes if he gets really frustrated, he will bite himself. But he had never bit another child, so this was kind of shocking news to me.
The teacher bent over backwards to assure me that this was no big deal, that kids go through icky phases when they are learning to share, and that she dreads telling parents these things for fear that they will freak out and ship their toddlers off to military school. Since that day, he has committed five more bitings at school, attempted two more, and took a chunk of flesh from the arm of a little girl with whom we had a playdate last week. Beyond a stern "no", his teachers can't do much to discipline him, so if he even thinks about biting me at home, he goes straight into time out. And before trying time out, I had no faith whatsoever that he would stay in one spot, especially if he was throwing a fit. But to my utter surprise and elation, he will sit perfectly still in the "time out corner" and bawl his eyes out until I tell him to get up and give me a hug.
So we're at that point where we have to determine what methods of discipline work best, and attempt to be consistent about how we administer them. So far, he seems to respond better to time out than to a spanking, which just isn't always practical in public. It's easy enough at home, where he gets a couple of warnings then goes into time out if he continues to disobey. But at school? The grocery store? Things get a little more complicated when you don't have home field advantage.
Aside from the whining, there are lots of other things A does for fun, like jump on his bed, bang his head on things (for comic relief), draw on appliances and furniture with chalk, read books, play outside, tease Murphy, pull things off of shelves, pull things out of cabinets, pull things out of drawers, play with his friends, and play with his toys. He loves to sing and dance along with his Raffi video, which is one of my faves of alltime, so I'm pretty excited that he is into it. If you moms are not familiar with Raffi, I highly recommend checking him out. (apologies for the singing)
We introduced him to the potty this month, as in, "Alex, this is Potty, Potty, this is Alex" and bought a little training potty for him to get familiar with. Occasionally I'll ask him if he needs to go, to which he usually answers, "no", although he did pee on the pot once, mostly on accident. That's about as far as we plan on taking it at this point, because he is clearly not ready to potty train yet. But we are certainly willing to leave the option open.
Although I have a hard time imagining that the child will ever sit still long enough to go to the bathroom on a potty as opposed to going in his conveniently mobile diaper. The kid does not stop moving. Ever. Not even in his sleep. By the end of the day - forget that - by 9am I am exhausted and start to wonder how I can possibly maintain the amount of energy that is needed to chase after him until 6 in the evening.
He is extremely outgoing and friendly to everyone, always waving and smiling at strangers. He is well known at school because when we walk down the hall in the morning, he waves and screams, "BYE THERE!" to every single person that passes by. He is the sweetest boy, he will give me big hugs and kisses on demand, and sometimes when I haven't even asked him. He is my buddy, my pal, and while he makes me nuts at least half of the time, he makes up for it by being unbearably adorable the other half.