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toddler tales

You know that moment when a light expletive escapes your lips only for your toddler to throw it right back at you in that teeny-tiny voice of his? And it sounds so cute and funny that you can’t help but laugh out loud, which of course makes him crack up, say “funny,” and laugh along with you. He won’t learn “red” and “white” no matter how often you say the words, but somehow has no trouble repeating a multi-syllable adult phrase. No? That has never happened to you? Us neither. Never happened, honest.

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To be fair to Munchkin, he actually has started learning his colors…or at the very least has figured out that we are asking him about them. If asked in English what color a particular object is, he always responds that it is blue. In Russian, the same question leads to the inevitable response of красна – red.

Munchkin has added so many new words to his vocabulary over the last couple of months that we have been unable to keep track of them all. Much to D’s chagrin, the vast majority of his new vocabulary is in English, though sometimes D does manage to sneak a few new Russian words into his lexicon. And every once in a while Munchkin busts out the Spanish vocabulary he picks up at daycare. “Wait…did he just say, ‘No más?!’” “No más!” Munchkin repeats emphatically, pushing his plate away to underscore that he is done with dinner.

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More excitingly, Munchkin has started stringing the words he knows into simple phrases. “Come on! Go, go, go!” was the first one he used consistently, grabbing our hand to lead the way. See you soon. Too much. More please. Go down. There are several others, though not all of his word combinations are successful. “Do you want some apricot?” S asked. “Apple car?!” Munchkin wondered aloud, grabbing the piece of fruit.

He has also cottoned on to the fact that there are two different words for each thing he wants to say – one that papa prefers and the other that mama tends to use. To avoid confusion, he frequently uses both, one right after the other. Cookie/печень, car/машин, fishy/рыба, boa/кабали (boats), hoppa/тимбиди – both mispronunciations of the respective words for “help.” We still have to interpret his pronunciation for others, but his speech is growing clearer, slowly but surely.

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We’re at a loss to pinpoint exactly when it happened, but somehow he has already grown into an autonomous little human. He will no longer let us spoon-feed him, and he spurns his high chair, instead insisting on climbing up onto one of the tall stools so that he can eat like a grown-up at the big table. And he’s not even two yet!

Also, since he knows the names of all the foods he likes, it is sometimes difficult to get him to eat the things we want. He’ll just go to the fridge and demand the foods he wants, his desperation and frustration boiling over if we don’t give in. He even had a complete meltdown once because we had run out of watermelon when watermelon was all he wanted to eat. Generally speaking, he is a good eater, though at times quite fastidious. “Messy!” he’ll say, insisting that we clean off the fingers he had just dunked in his bowl of yogurt before continuing his breakfast.

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On the one hand, his improved language ability is a huge boon, because we almost never have to guess anymore what he wants. “Пить!” he’ll say (drink!), and before we have time to react, he’ll go to the drawer where his plates and cups are stacked, pull out a plastic glass, and hand it to us, adding, “Вода” (water). That’s a big improvement over simply emptying the contents of the drawer all over the floor. On the other hand, increased communication engenders a greater facility for stubbornness. We hear no/нет quite a lot more often than their respective opposites, though every now and again he’ll vary it up with “No, no, no…ok” to show that he will reluctantly acquiesce to our suggestion.

The older he grows, the vaster the potential for a battle of the wills to arise out of a particular disagreement. S is currently waging a low-intensity war to get Munchkin to give up his milk bottles. And D recently found himself in a Mexican standoff when he tried to lay down the law about not throwing food on the floor. He felt somewhat vindicated when, after a 5-minute stare-down, Munchkin picked up the strawberry he had thrown and handed it to him, but at the very next meal Munchkin was up to his old tricks again. As we have already learned, even when you do ultimately score a minor victory, you’ve already lost the moment you find yourself arguing with your two-year-old.

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