A portrait of the artist as a little baby

Fiona talks a lot, tries on clothes, and is given to melodrama. So she’s basically a teenager in a toddler’s body.


Another of Fiona’s recent fingerpainting masterpieces, Iridescent Scarab. This is just as good as anything you’ll find at the Museum of Modern Art here in New York City.
Another of Fiona’s recent fingerpainting masterpieces, Iridescent Scarab. This is just as good as anything you’ll find at the Museum of Modern Art here in New York City.

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve written an update, so here’s the latest.

Fiona has learned to say a few words—finally. At 16 months, when she was supposed to be saying at least three words (with meanings), she was saying none at all. So at 18 months, when she still didn’t say any words, we had her hearing tested. Just as we suspected, it was totally fine. She understands us perfectly, and she communicates very well, but she apparently wasn’t all that interested in using words. But shortly afterwards, she started saying “hi.” A week or so later, just before we went to Iceland, she started saying “no.” Fortunately, she still says it in a cute way, not an annoying way—she sticks her lips out and says, “noooooo…” The other day she was in her room building block towers, and apparently the blocks were not cooperating. Every time they fell down, she said “noo noo noo noo!” “Hi” and “no” were it for a while, and then I was pretty sure she said “cheese” one night. A few days later, when I went to pick her up from her friends’ house, their mom told me she thought Fiona had said “cheese.” She says it a little more often now. In the last week, she has also added “shoes” and “juice,” which, you’ll notice, are essentially the same word as “cheese.” There are differences in how she pronounces them, but context is still important for us to understand. She sometimes also says “t-hhhew,” which means thank you (we’re pretty sure). And, last weekend, when I showed her her bellybutton in the mirror, she started saying “be-be” and pointing at people’s tummies.

I’m very proud of a few little scrapes that Fiona has gotten at the playground. She’s so tough. Of course, I only feel that way about small injuries. She recently had a slightly more serious problem involving her fingernail. One night when we were in Iceland, she fell down in our hotel room and somehow smashed her finger. Since she was crying a lot and she had one of those little pinch-blisters on the inside of the finger, I was a little worried at first that it might be broken. But she got over it in a few minutes and went back to playing, picking things up, bending her fingers in a way that I found reassuring. Within a few days, the nail started turning yellow, and I had a feeling it was going to fall off, but I figured it would be sort of gradual. It wasn’t. Two weeks later, Dustin emailed me at school to tell me that her nail was coming off and she was very upset about it. We had to start putting bandaids on it to keep it from getting yanked off. It fell off completely within a day or two, but she still wanted a bandaid on at all times. She would wake up shrieking if it came off while she was asleep. The new nail is growing back in now, and we have convinced her that her finger is safe and she no longer needs a bandaid on it.

One of Fiona’s latest hobbies is trying on clothes. Not so much “trying on” to see what they look like; more “trying [to put] on” anything she can find. This game involves opening her drawers and digging around near our laundry basket to find something that looks wearable. Most of the time, she chooses her own clothes, since our laundry basket is not very accessible. She’s pretty good at getting shirts over her head, and on rare occasions she gets one or both arms through the sleeves. More often, she manages to get her arms through the neckhole so that the shirt is more of a belt. She also tries on pants, with limited success. She can get her feet in, but she hasn’t figured out how to stand up and pull them up. And socks, it turns out, are really hard to get on your feet, but really easy to get on your hands, so that’s what she does.

Last weekend, Dustin went to Frederick, Maryland, for his mom’s birthday. While he was gone, Fiona did pretty well, but she definitely missed him. A lot of the time, when Dustin is out somewhere when Fiona goes to bed, she waits up for him to come home. But he was gone for three nights, and I think she understood that he wasn’t going to come home that night. But she still missed him. She woke up in the middle of the night and was inconsolable. She wanted Daddy, but she knew he wasn’t there. I tried to find a t-shirt that would smell like him (that’s what you do for dogs, so I figured it might work for a little kid, too) and couldn’t, so I brought his American flag blanket to her. As soon as she saw it, she calmed down. I put it down on her bed and she curled up on it and went to sleep.

Which brings up another odd development in the last few months: Fiona loves her bed and is terrified of it being mutilated. I can’t change the sheet when she’s in the room, because she freaks out when I pick up the mattress. Complete hysterics. One time I just picked up the corner to make an adjustment, and she started screaming.

Two other things that cause her to panic are these two Sesame Street videos. We’re not sure why, although we do know that she doesn’t like weird things on people’s heads, so that might explain her fear of the “engineer” one. (Update to the update: I wrote this a week ago, and two nights ago, after watching her favorite Sesame Street video [“Prickly”], she patted her head, which I took to be a request for the “Engineer” video. She was a little nervous, but she didn’t freak out. I’m so proud of her for facing her fears.)

We have one Iceland video on our YouTube channel—it’s the geyser named Strokkur, and it is really cool. For some reason, Fiona was not scared of it. And Dustin just posted a video of our Easter Egg hunt on our YouTube channel, too.

Love,
Susan


This article appeared on pages 14–15 of Issue 6 | April 2012.

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