Tuesday, May 6, 2008

You've Come a Long Way, Baby

V. climbed up onto the couch to sit next to me yesterday. She pushed in next to me and pressed her head back into my shoulder hard, just so I would put my arm around her. It was like a linebacker asking for a hug. Then she overdid it, made her whole body as stiff as a board, and almost fell back off the couch.

This was a remarkable thing. She has been living with us for a full six months now, and our second daughter has not only learned that she can ask for affection from Anette and I, but she's learned how to ask for it. Sort of.

She's sleeping through the night sometimes now. She's screaming and hitting less. I made a family portrait of us a few weeks ago and I didn't look at it closely until a week later, and V. looks so happy--and so much like one of us.

Something else is changing, but it's harder to quantify. Yesterday, we met V.'s biological mother again, and it went pretty well. But when we got back home, V. threw a minor tantrum. She cried, pointed to our bedroom and the spot where Anette sleeps, and she said "Mama." Which wouldn't be notable except that V.'s never said that word before. She has said and still says "Mami," but she uses that word for all adults--Anette, me, the waiter, the stranger next to us on the U-bahn.

She did it again today, while Anette was gone. Sitting in our dining room playing by herself, V. suddenly started whining low, pointing to a photograph of my wife, and miserably calling out, "Mama, mama!" I couldn't really console her. I was curious about her use of the word, so I got out a photo album which includes a picture of V. with her bio-mom. She pointed at her bio-mom and went off in that goo-goo-talk she speaks, like she was very patiently trying to explain game theory to me. But she didn't say "mama."

She probably understands her family a lot better than we think. Perhaps she's starting to use language to make sense of it.


Elizabeth said...

I'm so glad she's settling into the family, and the "Mama" identification is amazing! That's the gold, isn't it?

pat said...

Thanks, E! Yeah, gold is the word. When kids start playing games with words or gesture, you can really see the big person inside the tyke.