Sunday, 27 May 2012

Bringing up baby: what is he thinking?

Atilla has been introduced to spoken English, spoken Mandarin, spoken Teo Chew, New Zealand Sign Language. He has been exposed to spoken Swedish, spoken and written Maori.

As caregivers, Dad and I have been paying attention to his body language too - indications of fatigue, readiness to sleep, to poop.

All this has been a huge learning curve, possibly harder for Dad and me than for Atilla. He's always learning, but me and Dad are mostly recalling what we know. It ain't what you got, but how you use it.

I've been reading up on developmental stages of toddlers to find out what to expect.


Today I observed another developmental milestone in Atilla. Possibly he had always had it, but I hadn't noticed. He has begun to combine two words together, to communicate a concept.

At Devil's Dyke, on our way back to the car, I had a devil of a time to convince young sir to stay away from the poisonous cow parsley, to stay away from the stinging nettles, to not run downhill into the semi-vertical valley of the Dyke. Wee thing didn't understand why he was brought to this field of fun if he wasn't to be doing all that.

As I bodily hauled him to my shoulder, I desperately pointed to the one and only dog I could spot. I assumed it was a dog - with my myopia, it was really a brown and white moving smudge.

"Dooug?" Atilla asked. I had his attention.

"Yes, dog right there," I waved at the general direction. The dog was still a moving target, hidden by the crest of the steep hill.

"Dooug?" he said, waving his hands.

"Yes, dog."

"Dooug?" he said, repeating his wave in the 'where' sign.

"Oh. Over there." I pointed with my finger this time. His focus sharpened on the dog.


This afternoon the word was "ball". Combined with the interrogative 'where' sign.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Bringing up baby: I can't keep up

At this 16-17 month mark, I can't keep track of the developmental milestones.

Atilla has learned about fantasy play, such as putting a 'bag' on his arm and 'going out' thus necessitating "Bye bye". He has learned about fantasy hats, i.e. random objects placed on head becoming silly hats.

He develops games of his own, wherein only he knows the rules, such as today.

He and I are playing in the hallway, with Daddy in the living room. Then, Atilla learns he can close the door on me. So he does.

"Oh noh," I hear from the other side.

Dear me. My precious baby needs comforting. Slyly, I open the door. Quietly, to give him a pleasant surprise.

I see my precious insistently involving Daddy to get him to open the door. Atilla turns around.

"Oh noh!" his unhappy declaration sounds very genuine upon seeing me.

He toddles fast to close the door on me again.

"Oh noh," I hear from the other side. Full of curiousity now, I slyly and quietly open the dor to see what that kid is up to. He is pulling Daddy off the couch again. I quickly and gently close the door.

"Acting runs in the family, right?" I speculate randomly.


Another game, 'Stop'.

It starts with Atilla placed in a non-childproofed area with many irreplaceable objects such as old books with deteriorating bindings.

It continues with Atilla sloo-wly reaching out to it/them.

Mummy hurries up to prevent any contact between said Atilla and objects.

Catchphrase: "Stop!"
In varying serious tones.

Not that he takes it seriously. He thinks I've made up a new game for him. Because then he rushes to the other side of the room - similarly not childproofed - and reaches out his hand (not touching the objects) happily says "stop!" Then runs off to another sensitive part of the house to repeat the same actions.

At least he identifies the sensitive parts of the house.


Today Atilla had much fun chasing after pigeons in the local church graveyard. He ran after them, around them, with outbursts of, "birds!" "doove!" "birds!"

It was delightful to watch.


He is teething with all four molars coming through. One on each side, top and bottom. It has become tricksy to have him brush his teeth. I resorted to showing YouTube clips to show him how it can be done. So, today before bedtime, he let me brush his teeth. Once.


At bedtime he biffed me one on the eye. Accidentally with a board book. Not sure which one. I lost my self control - excessively sleepy, feeling ill-health - I broke down and wept. He did too. I remember I tried my best to comfort him and acknowledge his remorse. Next thing I know, I wake up at dusk 9pm with Atilla by my side on his bedding.

My eyelid is swollen and tender.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Story 6

Life was meant to be enjoyed! Atilla believed this with all his heart and mind. Life began at 3 o'clock in the morning, whatever Mother and Father decided otherwise.

He played quietly with the rattle-book for two shakes, but it proved unsatisfactory. It was too dark. His parents didn't leave him any nightlight to play by. Or read by. Silly people. Still, he had a efficacious standby solution for this turn of events.

Atilla stood by Mommy's bedside and began to wail. "Waah-hhh-"

"Hush, sweetie, what's the matter?" he hears a sleepy Mommy voice. Phase One was a success!


Pre-breakfast over, Mommy takes him to the bathroom/toilet for the Change Nappy Routine. Atilla conceded the battle as he had a separate goal in mind.

"Dooug," he proclaimed.

"Yes, that is a picture of a dog (on the Andrex bag of toilet paper rolls)."


"Yes, that is a picture of a dog."

Nuh, Mommy still did not understand. Once more, with feeling. "Dooug," Atilla says imperatively.

"Darling, what do you want to do with the dog?"

Oh yes, now she was getting the idea. So, once more into the breech. "Dooug," he explains.

Now he hears an explicable change in tone in her voice. "Do you want to take the dog upstairs?"

Ah ha! We - she and he - has a breakthrough.

Atilla grabs the bag and hauls it to the door. Boo hoo, the door is locked and closed!

"Let me open the door for you."

Atilla grabs and hauls the bag through the open door. He hauls it to the foot of the steps (five baby steps away).

Now, how to get it upstairs? He attacks this problem with a simple solution. He pushes it vertically up the step. Then climbs up the step. And pushes the bag (as large as he is, with several toilet rolls inside) up to the next step. This is very awkward. He gives this solution another go, onto the next step. Phew... This is awkward exhausting work.

Mommy is no help. She just stands there like a muppet, watching. Bah.

Atilla attempts a different tack. He climbs onto the next step, and hauls the bag up after him. Oh yes, much faster. But still exhausting. Is there any other way?

In the meantime, let's try this climb-haul hypothesis again... Oh no! The bag has slipped out of his grasp, and fallen the four hard-fought steps! Mommy is no help. She just stands and watches.

Atilla slides down the steps, and re-starts his quest. He pushes the Andrex bag upright onto the first step. Then, brainwave!

He up stretches his arms, "Bhau bhau (Pick up)."

Mother picks up Atilla.

Atilla leans over, picks up the Andrex bag.

One carrying the other, they wended their way up the stairs to show Daddy the dog.

Bringing Up Baby: Changing Habits

It's not been easy. I have finally convinced Atilla to change his habit of requiring a tit to suck on to go to sleep.

It is approximately 3 weeks, I suppose, since I started on my one person crusade. Certainly, with no help from him.

As always, it begins with ungentle persuasion. Suck suck suck, pause, suck suck suck, pause, suck suck, pause pause. (He's becoming very sleeeeepy... I break the suction hold - to great prolonged protest, as Dad can attest from the next room.

I murmur quietly to Atilla, "It's cuddle-time, sweetie. It's cuddle-time."

And firmly remove the fixture from his mouth, out of his desperate questing scrabble, murmuring all the while, "It's cuddle-time," and stroking his back, holding him close, putting into practice Cuddle-Time.

We do this each time I am the one to put him to bedtime, or nap. For twenty days.

Last night was the same routine.

"It's cuddle-time, sweetie, it's cuddle-time."

"Wahhh," he sleepily whines. Then is too tired to continue this train of thought, and drops off to Noddyland.


Just now, the same routine from my side. Slight change in reaction from his.

"Sweetie, it's cuddle-time."

Cue desperate last minute sucking from him. Then he quietly releases, and settles down for a cuddle. I cuddle him close.

Wow. We - he and I - have a breakthrough.


Atilla did wake me at 3.50am GMT. Yawn. We walked around the block, said hello good morning to some early denizens, of whom only two returned our greetings. Atilla really enjoyed the walk, though mostly he was carried.

I am so glad he's taking a nap now.

Monday, 21 May 2012

20 May 2012: Elimination Communication update 3

I can confirm. Atilla does understand when he needs to poop, and to tell us so.

Evidence: we were at Hong Kong airport, and he was happily playing when he suddenly became perturbed.

"What's wrong, honey?"

"Poo-oop," he declaimed worriedly.

"Okay sweetie, give your biscuit to Daddy."

Daddy volunteered to take Atilla to the male toilets. What a hero!


Report back.

The loos are splendid things, though oddly shaped. Atilla made a great set of poop, as he was held over the toilet seat. And more importantly, he held onto his biscuit at all times, not once dropping it anywhere.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Bringing Up Baby: Elimination Communication update 2

In the middle of 2nd breakfast, Young Atilla this morning got my attention. He grabbed my hand.

"What's up, honey? What can I do for you?" I enquired.

"Poop poop," he declaimed. I am astounded. And, bemused. Like, for real?

Really? You really want to poop now? Am I understanding you correctly?

He insistently toddles off out of the kitchen, bringing me with him. To the toileting room. To the toilet.

 He stands expectantly by the toilet and pats it expectantly. I do the Toilet Routine: I lift the lid, and put on the child toilet-seat; I remove his trousers and nappy. He refuses - "Nuh" - to sit on the seat, and speedily wanders into the hallway.

 "Sweetie, you said you wanted to poop poop," I said, collecting him handily and placing Atilla on the seat. He sits comfortably and waits for nature to take its course.

We participate in time-occupying activities such as taking each bath toy and placing it on each others heads - "Haht" (Hat) - and putting it on his feet - "Shoo" (Shoe) - and blowing across the top of an open bottle, and placing bath toys on the top of the bottle - "Haht". The Gravity Game is always popular.

We spent quite some time waiting for the first hard knob to exit his system. I could smell it. Eventually Atilla had had enough. He made an approximate handsign for "Finish", and said "Doon" (Down).

"Honey, let me check your butt." Sure enough, it was a knot of knob, easily removed.

"Do you want to try pooping again?" He made no protest on being put back on the seat. We multi-tasked some more, with occassional grunts from Atilla as he concentrates on the primary reason for being there.

Sound and fury, signifying nothing. Interspersed, I show him the handsign for 'poop'. Unexpectedly, he attempts the sign too. Wow.

We continue on this vein of activity for a while. Dad then came through, and suggested a changeover of supervision.

Once Atilla understood the proposal, he was quite unhappy and decided he had finished with the pooping activity.

We do the Change Nappy Routine: put baby on the mattress, try to put nappy on baby. Atilla still protested.

"Sweetie, do you still want to poo?"

 "Nuh," he said unhappily anxious.

 "Well, it's time to put a nappy on."

 "Nuh," he said more unhappily, this time in a bent over position indicative of speeding up the evacuation process.

"Let's try the toilet again, just in case."

Atilla is repositioned.

"I'll stay with you until you're finished."

This helps him calm down, and we return to diversionary multi-tasking activities. We do this a very very long time, interspersed with Atilla's face-making, faecal odour, and splashing sound as the shit hits the water. Then he decides he is finished - "Doon".

We do the Cleaning Up Routine; we do the Change Nappy Routine: put baby on the mattress, try to put nappy on baby. This time baby co-operates, and the nappy is quickly put on.

This is the second time he (16.5mo) has taken me to the toilet specifically to poo. On the third time, I will know we really have Elimination Communication going.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

13 May 2012: a delightful day

I had an excellent day. Thank you Atilla. I love you, Daddy.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

12 May 2012: another great day

Another great day from Atilla. He woke up earlier than preferred by his parental units, but he did entertain himself - climbing into my bed, clambering over my face, getting out of bed, climbing into my bed, clambering over my face. I got the hint eventually, and allowed myself to be persuaded to wake up. The sun wasn't up yet. Sir ate his breakfast beautifully, feeding himself his weetbix. It gave me time to make Dad's tea, and English muffins for myself. We had a lovely family breakfast - yay! It wasn't even 9 am yet. We played, I cleaned up after breakfast, Dad prepared goat casserole in the slow cooker. Then we got out of the house to visit Western Springs park. Our target: ducks, geese, swans. We met the bird life there, and Atilla was very pleased - everything that wasn't "bird" or "dog" or "baby" was pointed out with a gleeful "duck". Whether it were geese, pukeko, moorhen, cockerels or chickens. The playground there is fantastic. For all age groups! The drawback is that it is mostly in shade, and cold in autumn/winter. Memo to self: playground pack should include a towel to dry seats, a jumper, and a spare change of trousers. He napped in the car on the long way home via Dominion Road bakery. He woke up in our garage, tearful. We settled him back down, and he ate well enough to have energy to play, and go out again to the local playground, with Dad. Wow. Got back, I settled him down for an afternoon nap around 3. He slept well, to about 4.30. He woke, tearful, but he settled back down again to his interrupted play. What a life. Auntie and Uncle visited briefly. We the family played together until bath time, he bathed, then played some more until dinner time. he ate dinner sufficiently, then played some more until I insisted it was bed time. "Upstairs, brush teeth, book, and bed." This was another enjoyable half hour or so. I read him books as he sat on my lap. It was really bedtime though. So into bed, lights off, and settling down to proper sleep with a song or two of tunes. Good night my sweet.