Monday, January 5, 2015

Parenthood - Week 84: Toddlers In Crime

Amelia loves Elmo.

When my niece is over at my mom’s house she has a special Elmo doll that she carries around. My mom also bought an Elmo doll for Ollie, my son. He likes to watch Elmo but he is not as into the doll so he would carry the doll to somewhere in the house, put it down, forget about it and walk away. Inevitably, Amelia would pick up Ollie’s Elmo, run over to Ollie proudly and give Ollie his “Elbow.” Amelia calls Elmo by his name, while Ollie calls this character “Elbow."  Amelia is always careful to make sure that she refers to Ollie’s little red monster doll as “Elbow.”

I’m not quite sure why Amelia enjoys taking a bath with Ollie. Maybe its because it’s one of her favorite activities, I'm not sure.  So we were all surprised when she first brought up this idea last summer. On the first night we were visiting, last week, we had Ollie take a bath early. When Amelia heard about this she threw a toddler fit. She really wanted to take a bath with Ollie. Like most of the times toddler’s get upset, it really wasn’t that big a deal but there was something endearing that doing something with Ollie was the focus of one of these outbursts.

The next night, they did take a bath together. Amelia carefully poured water over Amelia’s head and Ollie returned the favor. There were giggles, splashes of water and they both had a blast.

Amelia is a year older than Ollie and that means, they are only now getting to the point where they can really play together. A year ago when Ollie was barely crawling and Amelia was walking and beginning to talk they interacted with each other but there wasn’t a strong connection between them. Now that Ollie is a year and a half and Amelia is approaching three, the developmental stages they are in put them in a great place to have fun together.

Amelia can walk, run, and jump while Ollie can get on his feet and walk quickly behind her. Amelia speaks in sentences, has an ever exploding vocabulary, while Ollie's language skills focus on nouns, verbs and phrases. Even though there are clear developmental gaps, something really clicked last week when they were playing together.

Amelia is a very empathetic young girl. She showed great concern every time Ollie got upset and even tried to calm him down herself. This combined with the fact that Ollie follows Amelia around and copies her every action makes for one of the cutest pairs of kids you will ever see playing together.

There were a couple times last week when Ollie would gesture or ask for something and none of us adults could interpret this toddler communication. To our surprise Amelia would chime in and explain to us what Ollie wanted. This was both baffling and beautiful.

Amelia and Ollie are cousins.  We hope that they become friends like I am with some of my closer cousins, but there's a chance that they will become disconnected like my own distant relatives.  There will be times when they have more and less in common as they grow up and this combined with their individual developmental stages will influence their relationship.  We'll deal with these this as they come while giving them space develop a cousin relationship that is organic for both of them.

Right now we are all enjoying their affection for each other and not worrying too much about the future.

When we were putting Ollie to bed, Amelia came into the bedroom and wanted to help put Ollie to sleep.  She crawled into Diana's lap with Ollie as they read a picture book.  Afterwards we put them both in the crib and for a minute they lay down and snuggled together under blankets.  It was then that I truly understood the meaning of cute-overload.

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