Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Unbearable Lightness of Being . . . One

One year olds are pretty odd. I always forget this part of babyhood, since personal oddities are only magnified with time in our family, but watching a one year old is amusing and sometimes alarming. It can't be good for her to bang her forehead on the floor like that. She would stop if it hurt, wouldn't she?! And why is she licking the inside of a stainless steel pot lid? It is kind of like watching a drunk person trying to use a major kitchen appliance; you are rooting for them, really hoping they figure it out, but you are waiting on the periphery with a fire extinguisher in case things suddenly turn ugly.

I understand that she is exploring her world, using all of her senses to sort out what feels good, what hurts, what makes Mommy yell, what makes Mommy hurl her body across the kitchen to prevent mortal injury for one of her children.

One of Baby Girl's favorite games is something I think of as Puppy Face. No, it's not where you make cute faces at her, or even a game where you pet her hair like she is the beloved family pet. No, Puppy Face is when I pick her up so she's facing me and grasp her firmly around the middle, tilting her upper body away from me and exposing her neck and jaw. Then I make exaggerated sniffing noises around her face and ears, I growl as I pretend to bite her jawline, and then finish up with a lick on her cheek. This game gets her every time; she laughs so hard she gives herself hiccups. All because I am sniffing, growling at, and licking her. Try doing that to an adult and they will lock you up, I guarantee.

Another favorite? Rattle Brain. This is a fun game where she sits and shakes her head no, and, because you have encouraged her by laughing, she will keep shaking her head from side to side, faster and faster, until you are sure that she has blown out her frontal lobe. Then she'll stop and just laugh while a long strand of spittle runs down her chin. Odd.

Her choice of words is even odder. She toddles around the house, saying things like Bittebittebittebittebittebitte. She is either in touch with her very thankful German ancestry or she is channeling Twiki from Buck Rogers. She'll complete her litany with her arm outstretched and a very loud pronouncement of Bee-Ah! We don't know what Bee-Ah means, but she seems to say it when she deems something to be very good or very interesting. We strive daily for the Bee-Ah Approval Rating.

All of our efforts at decoding her language take me back to when I was small and trying to explain what I wanted to my parents. I distinctly remember a morning when I was trying to tell my mother that I wanted scrambled eggs for breakfast. The only hitch in the plan was that I didn't know they were called scrambled eggs. I kept calling them jelly eggs, because they wiggled like jelly when they were on the plate. My mother, bless her heart, just kept asking me to repeat my request. I tried different descriptions to make myself clearer: You know, jelly eggs. They're wiggly, like jell-o. They wiggle on the plate. Like jelly. JELLY EGGS! I couldn't understand why she wasn't getting it. In the end, I think she made me a fried egg, which I liked just as well, but my frustration over the language barrier rankled.

I am certainly not faulting my parents for their lack of understanding. Not when they had a quiet daughter who would periodically walk around the house and say something like: Wheaties and Badoodies! No one knew what I meant by Wheaties and Badoodies, and although I have vivid memories of using the phrase in conversation, I cannot remember what I actually meant to convey with that pithy term. All I know is that it had nothing to do with the breakfast of champions. To this day, my father will still look over at me and say Wheaties and Badoodies. Just to keep me humble.

And since I have such clear memories of all of these linguistic oddities, I know I must have been much older than Baby Girl. At least the ripe old age of three. So when my Baby Girl stumbles in the room, gesticulating wildly, shouting Bee-Ah! Bee-Ah!, then I know that she comes by it honestly. Some things breed true, I guess.


  1. Baby babble is so cute. It has to be one of the most adorable yet frustrating times in life when you know enough to want to communicate with another person but don't have the ability or vocabulary to do so.

  2. Anonymous2:12 PM

    wheaties or was it weedies...we were never sure...but it was no doubt you Aimee-doodle...

  3. You are such a good writer. And funny! I love my daily stops here.

  4. so funny. sadie walks around speaking some language that really sounds like japanese. i think she really does know japanese, and is trying to teach us, but sadly, will give up trying and eventually forget the language altogether and have to relearn it as an adult.....


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