for Munchkin superfans
Talking with a friend whose son neared his fourth birthday around the time Munchkin just began crawling, D asked if his friend still found himself amazed whenever his son learned a new skill. “Every day,” the friend responded, “It never ceases to amaze me how his mind works — how he figures things out and masters the world around him.” In the short week since we’ve returned from our travels, Munchkin has found dozens of new ways to amaze us.
Having just moved to Washington and immediately started training, we have had scant time to take it all in, let alone to take pictures. Knowing we will want to look back on this one day, here is a partial list of Munchkin’s recent accomplishments:
— In the three weeks we were apart, Munchkin figured out how to jump. This week he added a new twist to his daily bed-jumping routine. Ever since he was old enough to start getting himself in trouble, D has called him a little bandit. Munchkin has now incorporated the word into his vocabulary. Once he climbs into our bed, he gets a mischievous glint in his eyes and then starts chanting, “Ban-din, ban-din” as he jumps up and down and then throws himself into the pillows.
— His coordination and gross motor skills seem light years removed from where he was just a month or two ago. He literally runs circles around the apartment, deking his way around the various objects that would have sent him sprawling just a few weeks ago. At the playground, his favorite activity is climbing up slides before going down them. It’s hard work, and frequently he doesn’t make it all the way up on the first go, but he keeps at it, huffing & puffing, and talking to himself. When he does make it up, he claps for himself on the way back down.
— Perhaps the cutest thing he does is give kisses — not just to us, but also to our dog, and to his toys, and to his favorite characters in his books. He hugs his stuffed animals and says, “hug,” as he does it. He also insists that they receive their daily dose of milk whenever he gets milk.
— Recognition is his most impressive new skill. He says his version of his own name whenever he sees himself in the mirror or in pictures, and inevitably gives himself a kiss. The other day he was looking through his little photo album. On the center pages is a photograph of him with Emmie and another of S’s parents’ dog Libby. “A-mi,” he said before kissing the page. Then he pointed to himself and said his own name. Then he thought for a while. Several weeks had passed since he had seen Libby, whom he renamed Laboousha, and the picture was from her puppy days. Suddenly, recognition swept across his little face in the form of a huge smile. “Labooush!” he exclaimed, and gave the photograph a big kiss.
— He loves playing hide-and-seek, saying, “coo-coo” as he hides in the bushes or drapes a blanket over his head. D’s mom took to saying “ay, ay, ay!” when she played with him, and he now reminds us that losing him would be terrible indeed. “Where’s Munchkin?” we feign worry, sitting two feet away from him. “Ay, ay, ay!” he responds from under his blanket.
— One of the biggest changes in recent weeks has been his increasing desire to be treated like a grown up. He is no longer content to eat his own meals; he wants to eat whatever we are eating, usually off our plates. And now that his vocabulary is growing, he can actually vocalize his desires instead of simply grunting and pointing. Bread (in Russian), eggy (in English), juice (in English), milk (in Russian), and soup (same in both languages) are the newest additions to his gastronomic vocabulary.
He swats away his sippy cups, demanding our big water glasses instead. He doesn’t quite get all the food into his mouth, but he has figured out how to use both a spoon and a fork — his babysitter was so impressed that she texted us photos of his spoon technique and wondered if he could teach her kids to eat soup.
— For months we have been trying to get him to dance, and though Munchkin has developed a few rocking moves he much prefers to dance in our arms. D has been playing a fair amount of ska and reggae while dancing with him, and Munchkin even found a favorite tune. The song is “Allez” by a German reggae/hip-hop band that sings in French. As D bounces him up and down, Munchkin rocks his head from side to side, throws his little fists up in the air, and chants “Allez, allez!” along with the chorus.
Maybe because we spent some time apart from him, it seems that Munchkin just went through a developmental leap, or maybe we just cannot get used to how fast he is growing.