The date for Mary’s dissertation defense has been set for the morning of November 10th. She will have to fly out to Halifax the day before, and back the following morning, leaving me with Kasia for two nights for the first time without nursing at night before bedtime. We’ll see how this goes. Kasia is certainly old enough to be weaned, but there is a certain irony in weaning one’s daughter in order to present a dissertation on the importance of not letting one’s career interfere with childrearing…. But I think Kasia and I will manage okay for two days and then back to the current routine. Oddly, Kasia has become more interested in nursing the older she gets.
Kasia is a strange kid. She hardly ever speaks, beyond ‘Daddy’, ‘Mommy’, ‘Gana’ (for Tigana), puppy’, ‘duck’, and a few other animals. (Mary was taking Kasia through an animal picture book and she correctly identified ‘cow’, ‘puppy’, ‘duck’, etc., but when we got to the pig, Kasia identified it as an “E-I-E-I-O”.) But the thing is, she can speak when motivated to do so. Like, she was in the bathtub the other night and whining inarticulately, pointing at I-didn’t-know-what and making the “gimme” sign with her hand, when I finally said in frustration, “I don’t know what you want, Kasia. Just tell me what you want and I’ll get it for you.” And clear as a bell, albeit in an exasperated tone, she says, “Give me the towel, Dad.” I look at her astonished. “That was a five word sentence! Since when can you talk in sentences?” “Towel!” she demands again. I give her the towel, muttering. “I didn’t even know you knew what a ‘towel’ was…”
This sort of thing happens all the time. She will look her mom, and say something perfectly clearly like, “I love you mamma!” and yet when Mary rushes with Kasia to show me what she can say, she will completely clam up. It’s as if, having said something once, she is now done with that sentence, and looking to move on to new pastures, will never say it again. So when we come to the health care nurse who wants to assess Kasia’s language skills, and the nurse asks, “how many words does she say?” we’re at a bit of loss. We’ve heard her use over 50 different words, but like “towel” only the once, and never in front of witnesses. Kasia will certainly not say anything to said nurse. We see other kids Kasia’s age blathering away -- and Tigana at this age was accepting legal briefs from other kids at Montessori to plead their cases with their parents -- yet Kasia will never speak if a gesture will communicate her needs. We’re beginning to suspect that she is just really lazy, and have started to insist on her verbalizing. “No, Kasia, you are not getting out of the high chair until you say ‘up’, not just hold your arms up and whine.” Seems to be working a bit, but the contrast with Tigana at this age is pretty profound.
On the other hand, Kasia is amazingly persistent and a clever tool user. If I take something away from her, she will keep after until she gets it again. When Tigana was this age, it was easy to distract her from something dangerous by giving her something else interesting. Not Kasia. I put a dangerous toy out of reach on top of the dresser in her room, and over a period of days, she kept bringing things into her room until she had gathered sufficient materials to build a ladder to climb up and get it. That persistence impresses me almost as much it terrifies me that nothing is safe from her little tool using brain…
Lately, Kasia has adopted the habit of bringing me dead bugs, and proudly depositing them in my open hand. “Dead bug!” she will say excitedly. I’m never sure how to react to this sort of thing. On the one hand, there is the hygienically-responsible-parent in me who wants to say “Ugh! Dead bug! Dirty!” so she will stop picking up dead bugs; on the other hand, there is the parent-as-educator who thinks I should be encouraging her obvious interest in entomology by dissecting the cadaver. Tough call!
Tigana got her ears pierced over the Thanksgiving Weekend. We had previously agreed that she could have her ears done when she turned 10, but we couldn’t take her asking us “How much does it hurt to have your ears pierced?” one more time. “It’s three years away”, we would say, “Why are you asking us this now?” But it had become some kind of obsession, where she felt she apparently needed the whole three years to psych herself up for it. The deciding factor, however, was when her best friend Zoe broke her arm on Friday, and Zoe’s mother related to us how her younger sister, Maya, was so envious of Zoe’s cast she tried to break her own arm so she could get one like her older sister. Mary did the calculations, and realized that if we waited until Tigana was 10 to get earrings, Kasia would be 4 &1/2 and would demand earrings too, whereas if we did it now, Kasia would be too young for it to register, and by the time she was old enough to ask for earrings, we could relate the precedent was you had to wait until Thanksgiving when you’re seven….
Tigana reading bedtime story to Kasia