Where are the fish?

Fiona talks, reads, makes messes, cleans up—and is obsessed with finding fish wherever she goes.

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Fiona is getting chattier and chattier all the time. She has some new words—birds, bus, and cheeks, for example—but context is essential if you want to understand her, since “bus,” “birds,” and “bike” all come out “bat-ch,” and “keys” and “cheese” sound the same. Her pronunciation of “baby” sounds rather French: “buh-BAY!” She also has some gestures that represent entire sentences. The weirdest one is when she sticks her hands out to the side, palms up, lowers her chin, raises her eyebrows, and says, “Uuh??” When she does that, we’re supposed to say, “Where are the fish?” She responds with a quick point (at a garden, fountain, park, or minivan) and a satisfied “uuh!” The last few days, though, it seems like she has started to say, “Ah dah!” Which may or may not mean, “Right there!” This came about when we were visiting Dustin’s family in Frederick, Maryland, where there’s a creek running through a park downtown. There were some fish in it, and I pointed them out to her. After a few minutes, she started looking for them, using her new “Where are the fish?” gesture. The next week, she wore, for the first time, a dress of Charlotte’s that has fish on it, and continually asked, “Where are the fish?” and responded by pointing to her clothes. At this point, she seems to have completely forgotten in what sort of environment she first discovered fish, and just likes to ask about them, and speculate about the strange places one might find them.

She does enjoy “reading,” and she sometimes “reads” an entire book out loud, page by page. What’s really fascinating about that is the fact that when we read to her, she usually insists on turning the pages too soon (although she is occasionally very insistent that we should not miss any pages). But reading is becoming a useful diversion, as in, “Fiona, we’re not going to watch any videos right now. Why don’t you go get a book and read to your baby?” She also subscribes to Sports Illustrated Kids (we got it for free using some airline miles that were about to expire—it was the only kids’ magazine they had), and whenever it arrives, we hand it to her and she goes straight to her bedroom, climbs up on her chair, and starts reading. We hear her turning the pages and saying, over and over, “Ball!” as there is one on almost every page and she is always happy to see another one. I guess it’s the perfect magazine for her. At bedtime, she finds a few books and shoves them through the bars on her crib so she’ll have some reading material; then, when we’ve put her in bed, she settles in and starts reading. As you can imagine, she gets mad when we turn off the light. I think I’ll do some investigating, and if I can’t find one, I will start marketing a baby reading light that slowly dims to darkness over the course of about ten minutes.

One of her new favorite games is squeezing people’s noses to see what noise they make. Most noses seem to say either “honk honk” or “beep beep,” but sometimes she finds a weird one. She usually only does this with people she knows, fortunately. She also really likes to make animal noises, and recently learned to roar. We’ve been making roaring noises for months, but she didn’t start roaring herself until spending time with her friend Elliott and his dad, Rob. Now, whenever Fiona sees Rob, she roars in greeting.

Although Fiona is extremely messy in many ways (she enjoys transporting all of her toys to the living room using her dump truck, bucket, and wicker basket), she also knows how to clean. She puts her dishes away in the cupboard1 after we wash them, and most of all, she loves to clean up spills. If she tips her cup too far, she says, “Uh oh,” and runs to get a towel to clean it up. The other day, Dustin was washing dishes and spilled some soap suds on the floor, and she got a towel to wipe up the bubbles. This all just seems sort of normal, but it gets weirder—a few months ago, when she first started learning to clean up spills, we were reading a book about animals. She saw a picture of a blue whale (just the whale in the center of the page, not surrounded by water) with a few tiny little drops of illustrated water on its fins. We barely even noticed they were there. She took one look, said, “Owww!” and went running. We didn’t know what was going on until she came back with a washcloth she had found and started drying off the whale.

Last but not least, Fiona’s grand mess, the mess to end all messes: diaper cream. A few weeks ago, Fiona was “napping” on a Sunday afternoon when Dustin smelled a very strong odor of diaper cream coming from her room. It seemed a little suspicious. He opened the door, and I’m sure you can imagine what we discovered. There is a picture attached in case your imagination fails you.2 It turns out that diaper cream is almost impossible to get off of anything except a baby’s bottom. We threw away her sheet and socks without even trying, and did some investigation online before discovering that that “cream of kerosene” type stuff that mechanics use to get the oil off their hands was our only hope. Her blanket still doesn’t look so great, but she doesn’t love it for its looks.


PS You’ll notice Fiona’s goat hat in the pictures. She has recently rediscovered it (it was part of her Halloween costume), and she likes to wear it around the house sometimes.

  1.  Dustin would, of course, call this a cabinet. 

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