Meatball has been impressing me more and more with all the new things he's been picking up. Much of it comes from watching The Boy in action, and it's wonderfully alarming how much is picked up when we think he isn't paying attention.
"Don't worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you." -Robert Fulghum.
Although I'm not sure how much of it he "gets" yet, Meatball can count to 10 with some prompting, can fill in the blanks when someone else starts anywhere in the alphabet, Hebrew or English, and, as I discovered today, he knows the colors of the rainbow.
It makes sense; these are the topics that are important to The Boy. He spends a lot of his play time doing things with letters, numbers, and colors. Not because we force him to, but because he likes it. He plays with letters on the fridge. He finds objects around the room that are different colors and lines them up in "rainbow order." He writes letters and numbers on his easel. This is what he talks about, so this is what Meatball hears.
While The Boy was ahead of where Meatball is now in terms of letter and number recognition, Meatball seems to possess more familiarity with more topics, even if he hasn't made as much sense out of it yet.
Meatball also LOVES stories, songs, and games--anything where you sing to him or play with him or read to him. He really enjoys that attention, and he enjoys the interaction with the other person. I solidified the idea today that a mild Meatball tantrum can frequently be averted with a rousing performance of "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes." The Boy also enjoys these songs, because he knows all the words now, and I think he even enjoys watching Meatball do the motions that he knows and start to really participate.
Today, The Boy had school. I decided that I'd try, one day a week, to take Meatball somewhere fun and do something really cool with just him. Not shopping, and not just a quick lunch. So we hit the "inside playground" which is one of those big indoor gym places. I hadn't been there with just him before, and it was really a lot of fun for him, because I could devote all of my attention to helping him do some of the more advanced activities.
Low-light of the morning: climbing up to the upper area, which has lots of tunnels, and discovering that some other kid who was up there had some nasty poo. AND smelling that same kid a few minutes later while doing another activity. I kept checking Meatball for surprises, but he had none.
Side note, and possibly something for a separate post later on: what is the etiquette here? When you're with a group of other mothers and little children, and someone smells something suspicious, it's pretty easy to say "Everyone check your kids; I smell poopies!" But when you're in a place like this, and you don't know the people, do you come out and say something? Particularly if you're not even sure to whom the kid belongs. It should be pretty easy for the mother to diagnose on her own, and yet, this kid spent awhile in that diaper. I know, because I kept smelling him. But what do you do? What would you want to have happen if it were your kid?
Poo manners aside, we played hard this morning. We climbed up to the top of that big structure at least 5 times. I chased him around the maze part, which he thought was hilarious. I took him down the biggest slide with me and helped him down the medium-sized slide on his own. He climbed up and down the nets. We spent some time in the toy areas, some time with Duplos and puzzles, jumped in the Moon Bounce (and played "Ring Around The Rosy" of course), and had a snack, but the bulk of the time was spent climbing around the big play structure.
Not that there is a possible comparison, because of The Boy's condition when he was this age, but I just can't picture him doing this even at 2 1/2, much less 1 1/2. Some of that, though, has to do with what they see and what they think they're able to do, and what WE think they're able to do. Illness notwithstanding, are we a little more cautious with our first children? Do we wait a little longer for them to do some of the "bigger kid" activities? Do they use bottles or sippy cups for longer, or sit in a high chair at a later age? I know that Meatball has been able to sit at a table since he was about 15 months old. He is somewhat lacking in the sitzfleisch department, so he still sits in a high chair at home most of the time, and at restaurants as well, depending on the setup.
It's exciting to watch Meatball as he tries so hard to do what his brother does. Sometimes they fight, because Meatball thinks that in order to do what The Boy does, he has to have what he has at that moment, and if there isn't enough to go around (or even if there is), The Boy gets upset. In many cases, The Boy is able to create diversions for Meatball on his own, but sometimes they both need to be reminded that it's okay, the toy will still be there in 2 minutes when the other child is done with it. I'm not going to use a timer for toys, because it's unnecessary. One or both of them will lose interest in it in time for either the other to pick it up or for it to sit idle while they move on to the next pursuit.
I don't remember experiencing anything like this with my older brother, and my mother doesn't remember either. But then, we're 3 years apart, not 22 months apart like my kids, and the male/female thing really did have an impact on how little I was interested in what my brother was doing.
Do you find that your second and subsequent children catch onto things more quickly and take an interest in what the older ones are doing? Moreso if they're close in age? Or do they all have their own ways about them?