(She’s the little one, not the one measuring her gargantuan head or the one posing for her Miss America publicity shots.)
It’s not like we even spend that much time alone together, but the time we do spend together is quite productive.
Episode One: Septemberish.
Ashley left her with me while she went into the other room to make her a bottle. We started playing.
As soon as she made eye contact with me, she started laughing.
Great – I look THAT bad today, huh?
She laughs more.
Ashley yells from the other room, “Is she LAUGHING????”
I yell back, “Yup.”
She comes running in, “She’s NEVER LAUGHED BEFORE!!!”
Episode Two: February.
Tessa and I are at the same Birthday party. We’re all sitting out on the deck, watching the older kids on the trampoline. Tessa is sitting in her carrier on the opposite side of the deck from me.
I start clapping, and then I make eye contact with her.
She locks into my eyes, and starts slowly clapping.
Ashley looks down, looks shocked, then follows Tessa’s gaze over to me.
Ashley: “SHE’S NEVER CLAPPED BEFORE!!! I spent all week last week trying to get her to clap!!”
Episode Three: March.
I kept AJ and Tessa on Tuesday for a little while. Since she and I had a reputation to keep up, I spent some time deciding what I was going to teach Tessa before she got there.
Ali and AJ were quite occupied playing keep-it-in-the-air,
We locked eyes.
Me: “Say RACHEL. RA….CHEL. RAAAAACHEL.”
AJ stops what she is doing to point out my ridiculous waste of breath. “She can’t talk, you know. She’s just a baby. She can’t talk. She can’t say Rachel.”
Me: “Say RAAAACHEL. RACHEL. RACHEL RACHEL RACHEL.”
AJ: “She can’t SAY Rachel!!!!!! She can’t say anything but Dada!!!!!”
Me: “Say RRRRRAAAAACHELLLL.”
And pretending to be Clara so that they could dream about dancing with the Nutcracker and “Sugarplum Perry”,
“Say RACHEL. RaaaaaaaCHEL.”
Finally, Tessa locked eyes with me. She got a big grin. She opened her mouth really wide, as if she were preparing to shout the roof off the house.
Then she whispered in a tiny little voice, “atchel.”
“AJ! Come here! She is saying it!!”
AJ came running, very skeptically.
AJ: “She can say Rachel!!! Ali!! Come listen to my sister say Rachel!!!”
And that’s how I taught a ten month old to talk.
If only I had that much power over my OWN child.
Rachel is now taking baby and toddler training appointments for specialties such as learning to walk, potty-training, learning to pick up toys on command, eating what is put on their plate, and allowing their Mommies to go to the bathroom in without following them to ask them a bazillion random questions.
Scratch that last one – if she had the knowledge of how to do that, she’d lead a much more serene life.