Monday, September 27, 2010

The plasma babysitter

Thousands of DVDs that have been created to entertain children all over the world and soak their little sponge-like minds with as much knowledge as they can absorb.

In Jacob's world, there are only two that matter: "Sesame Street's Kids Favorite Songs 2," featuring Elmo, and "Wee Sing in Sillyville."

All other movies and TV shows, for some reason, just don't grab his attention. He'll stop for a second to stare at what's happening on the screen, but then move onto something else. But pop in one of the two aforementioned movies and Jacob will fall into a hypnotic trance.

Jacob has become a big fan of Elmo and Snuffulupogus. He always says hi to Snuffy when he appears on screen, and he turns his head when he hears Elmo's distinct, affable voice.

Erin and I often accuse ourselves of lazy parenting when we turn on the DVD player, but it has yielded a few positive results:

— Half-hour window to get stuff done (i.e. emptying the dishwasher, cleaning) without Jacob's little paws reaching and grabbing for everything we're trying to put away.

— Thirty minutes of serenity. We love when Jacob's jovial personality is on full display, and tolerate when he's crabby, but I think it's safe to assume every parent welcomes a bit o' quietness every now and again.

— Jacob has shown us he can sit nicely, albeit for a short amount of time in one given spot. He loves to moves back and forth between his Toy Story chair and wedged in the corner of our couches. He's learned to use his stool to boost himself up onto the couch. He'll occupy just about every spot on the floor before the movies ends.

— He's beginning to make connections between what he sees in the TV and in real life.

One example is he recognizes the songs from the movies when Erin and I sing them. Every morning I sing "On Top of Spaghetti" when I'm changing Jacob's diaper, and he always forms the biggest smile. He knows that song because Snuffy sings it in the movie (spaghetti and meatballs is his favorite meal, by the way).

To enhance his obsession with Elmo, we bought him a bucket shaped like Elmo's head for Trick-or-Treating. He's developed a fear of almost everything that the average person would consider scary, such as zombies, skeletons, witches and things that crawl abnormally or make unusual, loud noises. I thought at the time of purchase that walking around on Halloween with an Elmo bucket would give him a sense of security. We'll find out in a few weeks.

For now, he carries that bucket with him all over the place, along with his Elmo cell phone our friends Eric and Kelly bought for him.

Ironically, he's afraid of his Tickle-Me Elmo hands.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Give me liberty or give me death!

Today is the 16th of September.

In the Karlin household, today is independence day. In fact, every day is independence day.

Jacob is at that age where he hates -- and I mean HATES -- when we force his dependency on us.

If we try to help him when he thinks he doesn't need it, he sets off a barrage of fireworks in the form of cries, screams and tears.

I thought about this the other morning after he refused to hold my hand down the concrete steps in front of our house.

Jacob never learned to go down steps like the typical infant/toddler, scooting butt first, so it always makes us a little nervous to watch him go down a flight of stairs. His depth perception, however, has kicked in nicely. He's learned to hold onto a railing or another object as he makes his descent. Before yesterday, he would grip one of our fingers with one hand and grab the railing with the other and, not really paying much attention, sort of just fall from step to step while we held onto him.

But yesterday was a new day, and he was determined to seize the opportunity. He wanted to step down by himself. So I let him go. I kept my hand in front of him, of course, but I didn't touch him.

He gripped the railing with both hands and twisted his body forward. You could see the hesitation in his face as he slowly inched his right foot closer to the edge. Carpe Diem! I'm sure is what he was thinking. Within a matter of seconds, he firmly planted it on the step below. Just as quickly hesitation turned to elation.

Then came the second foot. Confidently, he wrapped his left leg behind him so he could keep both hand tied to the railing. Gravity assisted him the rest of the way, pulling his 20-pound body down six inches in the blink of an eye.

Balance sustained. No trip to the emergency room. Next three steps no problem.

But there was still one more. This time there was no railing, only a wall. Jacob was not deterred. He pressed his palms against the brick facade, slightly leaned his shoulder into it and took the plunge.

He nailed the landing. Perfect score from the judges. Jacob rewarded himself with a congratulatory round of applause.


We do feel sorry for him at times when he wants to do something on his own, but he just can't because he's either too small or he just doesn't understand what to do and becomes frustrated.

For example, he almost always cries and squirms when I put him in his carseat. Partly it's because he doesn't like straps and buckles confining his mobility, but the bigger reason is he wants to do it himself. The problem is he's not tall enough to reach his leg onto the step bar on the side the truck. So I have to pick him up, as he's squirming, and stand him up on the seat. Then he tries to get into his carseat, but again, he can't pull himself up.

So what does he do? You guessed it. He emits a piercing scream, upon which the decibel level quickly doubles within the cab's enclosed space. When I try to distract him with some toys or his sippy cup, he responds by throwing them on the ground.

Here are a few other things he would prefer to do on his own (unfortunately changing his his diapers is not one of them):

-- He wants to feed himself. He'll close his mouth and shake his head if we put a piece of his food up to his face. So we put the food on the end of a fork and lay it on his tray. He puts it in his mouth, pulls the food off and claps for himself. He's OK with us taking the fork to add another piece of food, but every now and then he tries to spear the food himself.

-- He doesn't like sitting in a grocery cart. He'd rather help us push it or walk beside us. He loves walking, which is fine with us as long as he doesn't wander off or pull everything off the shelves.

-- He doesn't like holding our hands in public. He screams and snatches his hand away when we try to grab it. We try to explain to him that he could get hurt if he doesn't hold our hands, but he doesn't understand. If it's a busy area, then we pick him up and he has to suck it up. When he realizes a particular place is crowded, he'll hold our hand to stay close to us.

-- Bathing himself. He likes to pour the bucket of water over his head while in the bathtub and then pull the plug to watch the water disappear down the drain.

All of these are just more signs of our little baby Jacob growing up.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

New Words Thursday!

I am going to post one Thursday every month to update you with new words coming from Jacob. His vocabulary is growing every day.

1. dada
2. mama
3. ball
4. bear
5. elmo
6. more
7. hi
8. bye bye
9. car
10. here
11. All done (still working on consonants)
12. Night Night (still working on consonants)
13. He can roar like a lion.. its too cute!
He can sign Please, More, and All done

Thats all I can think of right now.. but I am sure there will be a lot more next month!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Heard ya, loud and clear!

Jacob's ears are perfect. He will not need tubes or a hearing aid.

After Jacob's left ear failed an initial hearing screening at the pediatrician's office a couple weeks ago, we decided to have an audiologist double-check it.

Jacob understands almost everything we say to him. He understands "Give Dolly a kiss," "Give mommy a hug," "Go to your room" and "Put on your shoes," among others. He even knows how to sign a few words after he hears them (more on that later).

At 15 months, however, Jacob should have a vocabulary of roughly five words. At the time of his checkup, he had only three: dada, mama and hi. He had a few other words that Erin and I could understand, but the average person would think he's speaking jibberish. For example, "all gone" sounds like "aww-aww."

He also struggles pronouncing certain consonant sounds. For example, "ball," when it comes out of his mouth, sounds like "ba." He can say mama and dada, but not mommy or daddy.

So at his initial screening, his right ear passed, but his left ear failed. In order to pass, each ear must recognize at least two out of three elongated, high-pitched beeps. At the time, our pediatrician, Dr. Bottoms (the one we originally wanted to see at his 15-month appointment; she was much better, by the way) told me if Jacob has fluid in his ear, he'll say those words like he hears them -- under water.

When she checked his ear with her little scope (that's a technical term; I know I'm a writer) she said she didn't see any fluid and his ear looked "perfect." She told me boys typically don't develop language until close to 2, and day care will help speed up his vocabulary.

Still, we decided to play it safe -- Jacob has already had a couple nasty ear infections -- and visit with the audiologist. After a more advanced test, she said Jacob's ears were fine. We're going to check them again in six months.

But for now, when Jacob doesn't answer us, we'll know it's on purpose.