Monday, January 18, 2010

Intonations, Imitation and Independence

Kai has gotten quite good at the art of imitation -- both our actions and our style of speaking. She still doesn't really talk much. At least we still don't understand much of what she says. She babbles non-stop. But, her babbling has gotten more sophisticated. When she is looking at a book, she'll "read" it to herself, mimicking the way we sound when we read, her voice rising and falling as she pretends to identify the words and letters. Or, she'll "count" by exaggerating each "number" in that sing song voice we frequently use when counting to three: "onnneee", "twooo", "THREE" and our voices rise at the end of each word, with the three being shouted in a staccato. Kai does the same thing, only she says, "unnnn" "unnnn" UNN". The enunciation isn't there, but the intonation... she's got that down. And, she is beginning to try to say more words. She'll attempt to repeat words back to us, usually in a whisper (she doesn't want to get it wrong). She attempts new words every day -- but only a few of them actually make it into the repertoire of words she'll use unprompted. She doesn't want to say an actual word wrong, but all the made up words that she babbles about all day -- who cares what those sound like?! Such a funny girl.

And she imitates our actions -- walking around the house in our shoes, cooking meals with her new play kitchen, cleaning the house, making her bed... whatever we do, she tries to do too. Tonight I was cleaning the stove and Kai was quietly playing in her room. After a few minutes, I peeked in on her, only to find she was wiping down her own stove. She was so intent on the task -- much like I had been moments before. Wiping every bit of the surface and examining her work. It was so cute.

But, she doesn't just imitate us. Suddenly, Kai is much more content to play by herself for periods of time. It's so liberating!! We can steal away to cook, glimpse the tv, check email... all while she happily busies herself in her room with her toys. It's like a whole new chapter of parenthood... and so much less stressful then the days when we'd leave her for a moment, only to find her about to launch off the bed, or climb onto a chair, or putting something dangerous into her mouth when we returned. These days, we leave her and to return and find her building a tower with her blocks. It's amazing. Not the tower so much as the independence (although, her tower was pretty cool).

So, these are my three I's of Kai's toddlerhood... intonation, imitation and independence. And, in Kai's case, you could add intensity!

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