It’s no secret. I adore little Thumper. My second girl. The baby of the family. Also our last.
And it’s that last part that tugs at my heart every time I see her achieve a new milestone. It’s often bittersweet – her first tooth is also the last first tooth I’ll ever experience with my own baby. Her firsts, my lasts.
The fact that she has been a generally happy, albeit serious, baby makes it even harder for me to let go. Every stage, every milestone is such a gift. But even then, she suffers from Second Baby Syndrome.
You know the one where the second child gets shafted for just about everything? Hand-me-downs, smaller celebrations, not recording key dates…I remember being a little more diligent with Little Misses’ milestones, and now, it’s anyone’s guess when Thumper’s first tooth appeared.
However, her language is exploding now, and seeing as it’s my favorite stage, I would be remiss if I didn’t at least try to capture some of that here. I have to - I want to - remember this because it’s exciting to see how this once-upon-a-blob is slowly turning into a real, little person just from the way she expresses herself.
Granted, she’s only 13 months, so there’s not going to be anything spectacular or entertaining here. But as her mom, sounding the sheep’s “Baa” is exciting. I realize I also need to get out more.
Apart from sheep sounds, she is also familiar with ones made by elephants (complete with a hand motion that mimics its trunk), owls, dogs, monkeys, cats, oh my! She says “Choo choo” when she spies a train, “moa” when she wants more food, and “mah” for milk.
When I say, call daddy, she bellows, “Da-da!” and I absolutely adore it. She points at her own nose, mouth, tongue (with the accompanying sound effect, “ah!”) ears, and eyes, which she also says. But her favorite is her belly button. Mine, too, because it allows me a peek at that pudgy belly of hers.
She’s also that baby who randomly (and very loudly) says hi and bye to strangers, so they’re sometimes compelled to respond. Not everyone knows what to do when accosted by a friendly baby apparently, so there’s often these awkward acknowledgements that make me wonder about people who’re leery of babies. She’s not trying to sell you a vacuum cleaner for heaven’s sake – she’s just saying hi.
The talking is one thing, but her ability to communicate without speaking continues to impress me. My favorite is when she does the “I don’t know” hand gesture when she’s looking for something but can’t find it.
Or when she flipped over to the back of the book we were reading and saw about six thumbnails of different books by the same author and pointed at the thumbnail of the same book in her hands. She then flipped it back to the front and pointed at it again, babbling her baby talk to tell me she recognized the thumbnail. It was pretty cool.
She understands more than she can say, as she points at birds, planes, the fan or different people when prompted. It’s also delightful every time she does exactly what I ask of her - “Lay down”, “sit", ”bring me your shoes”, '”go look for Little Miss”, “let’s eat some food”, etc. But when she’s not interested, she shakes her head adamantly. And there’s no changing that mind.
Acquisition of language is especially interesting to me because of my love for language arts and the fact that I grew up fluent in four languages myself. I remember being really keen when Little Miss hit the talking phase too. Except now she won’t stop.
I have a feeling that Thumper will probably get there too. I’m just hoping that she will have Little Miss for company then and hopefully, I will only have to field about 75 questions a day, as opposed to the gazillion that Little Miss has for me now.
As for other milestones, they’re pretty much overshadowed by the hi’s, bye’s and eye’s. However, since I’m already here, I might as well complete my task of recording the minutiae (to avoid being on Thumper’s shit list when she’s older).
In lieu of “oink”, which is still too sophisticated for her nascent skills, she can pull off pig face pretty effectively when prompted with “what do pigs do?” As you can see, she has seven front teeth. While we were waiting for Number 8 to appear, something else happened instead.
As for the bangs, she’s half Elvis. Okay, not really. We decided to lay off the scissors with this kid. Her sister had always worn her hair short at that age, and we didn’t want to miss our chance of having a wee one in pigtails around the house so Thumper is it.
That is the burden of the second/last baby - whatever we missed with the first, we’re going to have to make up for it with the second. This also means Thumper gets to have long hair, sleep in our bed, nurse well past her first year, and an outdoor birthday party.
Down the road, she’ll probably get to stay up late, go to sleepovers and rock concerts, and travel on her own much sooner than her sister.
Perhaps being second isn’t so bad after all.
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How do you feel as a first, second, third or (insert number here) born child yourself? Were you treated any differently from your siblings by your parents because of your birth rank? If you’re a parent, what role, if any, does birth rank play in how you raise your kids?