"She's doing fine," the pediatrician said at my daughter's last checkup. But then he gave me a handout with recommended activities for boosting your child's gross motor skills. Because she wasn't walking yet. Or cruising. Or even pulling herself up to stand.
Three months later, she's doing all of these things, though I don't think it's thanks to anything we've done. I just think she was ready.
Nope. When it comes to our child's development, Michael and I prefer to nurture the skills she might not otherwise develop as a matter of course.
1. Fart Sounds. My husband is always making fart sounds at our daughter. He's been doing it over the course of her entire 18-month life. The big payoff finally came this past week, when I walked in on Em successfully making fart sounds right back at him. I think this means we're winning at parenting or something.
2. Dirty Dancing. I've been dancing for my daughter since the very beginning, when she was still stuck in her Rock n' Play and had no choice but to watch me. Now her dancing has surpassed my own. She has a mean shoulder shimmy, is an expert twerker, and is working on her break dancing skills. Well, I assume she's break dancing. At the moment, it just looks like she's humping the floor. The other day, I put on a Cake song and she danced her way toward me on her knees, looking very Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing.
Fist bumps in general are something we've been working on for the past few months. The other month, all three of us fist-bumped and I excitedly shouted "It's a three-way!" Absolutely no pun intended. "We're fisting!" my husband added. Pun absolutely intended because he's awful. This past week, it finally clicked for her how to add the explosion.
Well... maybe not her first words. My work here is done I thought to myself the other week when, for the first time, she repeated the word "poop." And during dinner the other day, when I asked her if she could say "please," she chose instead to say a loud, defiant "NO!" At which point my husband and I tried very unsuccessfully to keep straight faces.
5. A Healthy Diet.
Em's been adventurous in her eating habits from a young age. She surprised me with her enjoyment of some homemade chili at about six or seven months old and, just yesterday, she ate a good amount of seaweed salad. What really floats her boat, though, are ramen noodles and pizza. Okay. I feel legitimately guilty about the ramen noodles.
6. Using Her Belly As a Drum.
I use my own belly as a drum in a somewhat self-deprecating manner, a preemptive defense against any comments about my curves or my healthy appetite. Em uses her belly as a drum because her belly is awesome, and we refer to it as her tum-drum. She even has a belly dance she does when she's particularly bloated.
When we leave her to wander about her bedroom, she gravitates toward her bookcase and pulls out every. damn. book. I try to teach her to only pull out one at a time, and to put books back before she takes another one, but I can't stay mad at her when day after day, several times a day, I end up putting all her books away myself. She can entertain herself for hours sitting in there, reading aloud to herself, and it brings me so much joy that I've raised a reader.
9. Staying Up Late To Read.
The only thing she enjoys more than reading to herself is having us read to her. She'll hand me a book, crawl into my lap, settle down, and wait. And if I'm not fast enough, she'll take the book and press is forcefully into my hand again. Repeatedly. She tries to milk this as much as possible right before bedtime.
10. Making Out.
It makes me just an eensy bit nervous how often I find her making out with her stuffed animals. And making them make out with each other. And making out with our cats. What does this mean? Where did she learn such behavior? At least she still seems to spurn the advances of the young boys in her music class. I don't think my nerves could handle young love just yet.