Eleventh Monkey

Fall of Babel

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You talk a lot. You ask regular questions and say common things but often the speech rhythms you use crack us up. Unfortunately, they’re hard to explain here, so I hope you can find yourself saying these things in one of the many videos I’ve posted of you on YouTube. Current regulars are:

You often say what things are in multiple languages. For example, when you want to express that something is cold you will say it’s “🇳🇱 koud 🇯🇵 tsumetai”. I’ve learned new Japanese words from you. We were working a puzzle with giraffes and you kept talking about something called “🇯🇵 kubi”, I had no idea what you meant until you pointed at your own neck and repeated the word. That’s when I learned the Japanese word for neck from you, my two-year-old son. Thanks!

You’re quite good at verbal problem solving as well. If you don’t know what something is called you will try something else to try to express what you want. You wanted me to get you scissors, but you didn’t know what they were called. So you pointed at where we keep them and said “🇯🇵 kani” while at the same time making cutting gestures with your fingers. Which were the Japanese word and gesture for crab. It made it really easy to understand what you wanted.

You will use another language if you’re not understood in the language you were trying to speak. One time when you were trying to tell me the owls in a book were sleeping, your said “🇳🇱 slapen” to me. Even though you were speaking Dutch to me, I didn’t get what you were saying. After you said it four times in Dutch, you switched to Japanese and told me “🇯🇵 onenne”. Then I got it! You’re so smart.

You know colors and numbers in all three languages. You don’t quite know the correct order of numbers yet. We often hear you counting in mixed languages, out of order and repeating numbers you’ve already counted. Something like: “één [🇳🇱1], twee [🇳🇱2], roku [🇯🇵6], nana [🇯🇵7], four, zes [🇳🇱6], five, roku, nana.”

When you talk about multiples of anything you usually use “twee” [🇳🇱2]. For example, when you’ve blown a lot of bubbles and you want me to see all of them you will excitedly say “Mama, look twee bubble!” Or when you want to play with multiple trains, you will ask for “twee trein [🇳🇱train], please”, no matter if it’s two, three, four or more trains you want to play with. Any kind of multiple in your brain is “twee” for now.

You have figured out how to do the password on my iPad. You’ve seen me do it many times, and recently when I try to do my password you cry out “Babel, “één [🇳🇱1], twee [🇳🇱2]!” Which means you want to touch the numbers yourself. At first, I needed to show you which numbers to touch in what order. Then, I had to just tell you which numbers in which order and you managed to find the right ones. And now, you often don’t even need telling anymore.

You are starting to recognize numbers and letters. You will point at numbers and letters and if you know them you’ll say what they are. You’re good at recognizing 1, 2, 3, 4, 7 and 0. You also know 5 and 6, but sometimes confuse these two. So far you recognize just a few letters for sure: A, B, C, and O. It’s because of the BABEL banner and the big letters COSATTO on your buggy, you’e asked about those letters repeatedly and it’s starting to stick. Whenever you see letters and you don’t know what they are you’ll start singing the BINGO song. I think because when that plays on YouTube, there are always big letters on the screen during the spelling part of the song. So you kind of associate that song with letters.

In the past, when we wanted to keep something secret from you, Papa and I used to use another language kind of like a secret code. For example, you mostly know fries by the Dutch word “🇳🇱 frietjes”. And of course, you love fries and as soon as we mention them you usually want them. So if we wanted to talk about fries we would just use another language. But lately, that doesn’t work as well anymore, because you seem to be catching on in all languages. If we want to fool you we need to use code that’s more descriptive, like ‘yellow sticks’ for the example of fries. But I’m sure you’ll solve that code soon enough as well. Maybe Papa and I will need to start texting each other soon if we want to keep secrets from you.

As you can see we cut your hair. Even though, I loved your long hair, it was getting so super messy and you would never let me get it out of your eyes. I tried to shorten just the hair in front with the flowbee and of course it looked weird and awful. So we cut all your hair with the flowbee and you hated it. You did sit very still during the entire procedure but you cried so hard, and we felt so bad.

With your new do and coincidentally a new hoarse voice (which later we learned was due to croup – more about that below) you seemed like a completely different child. Also when babysitting later that week, next to a tiny baby, without your long baby locks, and with your hoarse voice, you suddenly seemed so grownup and independent. It blew me away to realize how big and hardly a tot you are anymore.

I do miss your long hair. Of course, you’re also very handsome with your short hair. Still, I wish I had just waited for your hair to outgrow the awkward hair-in-eyes phase. Also, flowbee doesn’t cut the most stylish of dos, so when we’re in Japan next week, we’ll visit the Anpanman hair salon again and have them cut your hair properly. After that I intend to let your hair grow long until you tell me you want a hair cut.

We took you to the Children’s Emergency Room twice over the Fall season. Here in England you can call 111 when you need medical help or advice fast but it’s not an emergency. We realized that your hoarse voice did not come from crying so loud and long during your haircut, but that something more was going on. Besides that you had a barking cough, difficulty breathing, a fever and a runny nose and it was all much worse at night. One night in the middle of the night your breathing was so worrisome that I turned to google and soon the NHS website told me it was croup and to call 111. Which I did.

They sent over an ambulance and the paramedic looked you over and told us to get to the hospital because you needed some kind of injection. So at 2:30 am we were on our way to the Children’s Emergency Room. It was quite the interesting adventure for you, until we got to the examination room. Doctor’s offices often make you panic, I’m not sure why, maybe you have memories of getting vaccinations in similar rooms? Luckily, instead of an injection, you received liquid Dexamethasone through a syringe. This medicine reduced the swelling in your voice box and helped you breathe more easily. We stayed a few hours in the hospital for observation, and then your exhausted parents got to take you home.

Exactly two weeks later we were back in the same place because you had slipped on the wet kitchen floor and fell extremely hard on the back of your head. It scared us all a lot, of course you were hysterical, and while you were boobing back to normal I called 111, just in case for advice and what to look out for. They told us to go to the hospital immediately. Luckily, this time it was during the evening and not in the middle of the night. Even more lucky, you were totally fine.

The first Emerygency Room doctor was a bit weird. He asked so many unrelated questions (like minute details about your birth) and took notes like he was writing a book about us. Then he told us your ears were too waxy. He told us to go to the GP, get drops and then make you lie on each side for 3 minutes with drops in your ears and then clean your ears out with cotton swabs. I found this really weird since we’ve always been told not to clean your ears as it’s dangerous and we’d just be interfering with your ears natural process. Also, I don’t know how he imagines a two-year-old to lie still for 6 minutes.

Just in case, I went to the GP and she agreed with me that it was all very weird and assured me not touch your ears. She did have a look in your ears, while you were boobing (since you were crying as you were in a scary doctor’s office). We expected that would make you cry more, instead you started giggling and told us it was ticklish. That amused the GP and she said it was the first time someone had reacted like that. You laughed again when she checked your other ear.

You started having spontaneous nose bleeds. It’s very common for kids, I had it myself, it’s nothing really to worry about, still it looks quite scary. Most of them happen while you are sleeping and the bleeding usually wakes you up. The first time you were crying and wiped the blood all over your face. It was quite frightening to see you like that. It’s also not easy to make you blow your bloody nose to get the blood clot out, but you’re getting better at it.

Thankfully, you’re still an avid boober, and there isn’t much boob won’t fix. For more than 2.5 years it’s been your comfort and your nourishment. I always felt lucky that you weren’t one of those nipple twiddlers I kept reading about on my breastfeeding FB groups. Unfortunately, something changed this last season and I am now part of the club of moms who have to endure nipple twiddling while their little one nurses. I know it’s totally normal, but I really wouldn’t mind if you gave up this new hobby.

Papa recently dubbed my boobs Toby and Hiro (after two of your trains) to direct your attention away from something else while we were trying to get you to nurse and nap. I’m afraid those nicknames stuck and you’re now referring to my left boob as Toby and the right as Hiro. It used to be “melkie [🇳🇱 milky]” and “andere kant [🇳🇱 other side]”, I hope you’ll go back to that soon.

We’ve had a few festivities this last season. First, there was Halloween. You loved carving the pumpkins. We carved three pumpkins into Anpanman, Baikinman and Shokupanman. You helped a bit with the sawing, you did not like touching the innards, and you loved blowing out the candles on the inside, repeatedly.

Like last year, we went trick or treating in the Intu mall with your friends. That was fun, except for the stores running out of candy very quickly. We also went trick or treating on Halloween night, a few streets over from where we live. In that neighborhood people go all out decorating and trying to frighten trick or treaters. It was really crowded and quite amazing, but it was a bit too overwhelming for you. You tightly clung to me with your eyes closed, crying loudly, until we went back home.

Interestingly, ever since then, you seem to have become obsessed with Halloween, though. You love watching Halloween clips and songs on YouTube and are forever talking about pumpkins, ghosts, zombies, monsters, vampires, spiders and witches. You will tell people “Halloween is scary”, you will say “trick or treat”, and sing “Spooky, spooky, very spooky. Oh no, it’s a vampire!” You chase us with your arms in the air. You like to pull your bottom eyelids down and scare us with what you call your zombie face. You cover yourself in blankets and pretend to be a ghost.

This year, we’ll be flying to Japan on Christmas Day. So we combined our Sinterklaas and Christmas celebration on December 5th this year. You’re still young enough for us to get away with this. You don’t really know what’s going on yet, but I will make sure you understand the difference next year. For now, anything in a Santa hat you call Sinterklaas, but I’m making progress teaching you “Kerstman [🇳🇱 Christmas Man a.k.a. Santa Claus]” instead.

I introduced you to some things this year already. We watched Sinterklaas and his Zwarte Pieten arrive in the Netherlands on his boat. We put out your shoe with a carrot and sang songs, the next day you discovered goodies in and around your shoe. We decorated the Christmas tree together. That got you really excited and you loved helping. That day you kept calling the tree “Chris” short for “Christmas”, but after a few weeks you now know to say “Christmas”. You seem to recognize Christmas music, when you hear it on the radio you will point and yell “Christmas”. Oh and you love singing “Jingle Bells.”

Last year, we had our photo taken with Santa and it was horrible for you. So we weren’t planning on doing that again this year. Yet, we happened upon a Santa in the park this year and you were very interested. You went over to say hi and ended up sitting on his lap quite happily and we even took a few selfies and had someone take our photo. Papa went on a 6-day trip to Malaysia to present at a conference, so you and I were all alone for the very first time since you were born. Obviously, I was nervous about this, but actually it went rather well. I was able to cook dinner with you around, you let me take showers while you watched YouTube on my iPad or drew on your magna doodle, and I even managed to do a few loads of laundry. Still, I was a bit scared of the big empty dark house at night, all alone with you. So at bedtime, I locked us into our bedroom with the rubber wedge stuck deeply under the bedroom door.

I was also afraid you would ask for Papa while he was away. So to avoid that we made sure you saw him leave in a taxi and later saw him on FaceTime. This is what happens with all your family members after they’ve visited us. You always seem to understand that them driving off and us waving them goodbye means they’re gone. You are always perfectly happy talking to them on FaceTime afterwards. Luckily, this worked really well with Papa as well.

I am glad everything went well when Papa was away, and I feel more confident if we have to do it again in the future. Still, I am so happy I am not a single mom, and that normally Papa is around to help. Also, we both love having Papa around, life is much better when we get to share it with him.

You’re one creative little boy. Since Summer you’ve been able to draw faces, and you’re really mastering that. Eyes now have pupils and eyebrows, heads have ears, and often hair, sometimes you even add bodies with arms and feet. You also drew conjoined ghosts and told us it was Mama and Babel.

We’ve been also been painting a lot, mostly rocks. All over Derby, people are painting rocks and hiding them in parks and playgrounds for others to find. Found rocks are posted on the Derbyshire Rocks FB group. We got into this a few months ago and have since painted and hid more than 100 rocks together. We’ve seen a lot reappear on FB, but even more seem to have gone to never be seen again. It’s really fun when someone posts a photo of one of our rocks though, especially when it has traveled to another part of Derby.

I really enjoy the painting and you’ve become fond of rock hunting and especially hiding them. I used to be the one hiding them, but now you usually have very strong opinions on where a certain rock is to be hidden. Our first batch of rocks was a large bunch of ladybugs, and they led to your ladybug song. You came up with the melody and the lyrics are just ladybug on repeat. We spend a lot of time in the park walking around looking for rocks, walking through bushy and woody areas we’d normally never go.

We’ve also been to feed the ducks at the park quite frequently. You throw large parts of bread in the water and the ducks love it. The ducks, geese and birds come pretty close and that scares you, and me. We found a spot rather high above the water and for a while that kept us pretty safe, until last time. The ducks have started coming up and the birds fly right in front of our faces and last time one even flew into my hand. This large group of birds feels quite aggressive, like the deer in Japan. So I think we’re done with feeding the ducks.

Another favorite spot in the park is the Jumping Clay workshop. We go there at least once a week, usually twice or more. There you get to play with and make something out of clay that air dries, it’s amazing stuff. You call it play doh, but it’s much better and cleaner than actual play doh. You’re really good at it too! We bought you a really big box of jumping clay for the holidays and ever since we’ve opened it you’re constantly making magnets. Your whiteboard is covered in mini-makes of your favorite trains, Halloween icons, holiday icons, Anpanman, animals and more.

We took you bowling for the first time on Papa’s birthday. It is actually a great activity to do with a toddlers. As long as we make sure the bowling lane bumpers are up and you use the bowling bowl ramp, you actually usually get spares! None of us had to wear special bowling shoes, they’re always kind of icky, so that was nice. We played one game with two players, but most of the time it was actually you playing. A few times Papa and I threw a bowling ball and of course you wanted to try that as well, and you managed it. That ball did move very, very slowly towards the pins and only knocked down one or two, but hey, you are just two years old. I thought it was impressive.

We’ve signed you up for a nursery. We were quite early to be checking out nurseries, since you don’t start until September 2018. By then you’ll be three years old and your free 15 hours a week kick in. I only started checking because I was tagging along with two friends were looking for their kids who will be starting earlier. Still, I am glad we did because now we don’t need to worry about any waiting lists. We visited three local nurseries, revisited two and did play sessions at both and chose our favorite.

It’s actually the same nursery I tried to sign you up for when we just moved to Derby. It was connected to the children’s center I used to go to weigh you as a baby. But the nursery didn’t accept kids under two, and you would have only been allowed to start this past September. I wanted to you to go to nursery to make friends. Instead, we went to playgroups at that children’s center and made friends there. So it all worked out.

It’s still Fall but Winter seems to have arrived in Derby. When we lived in Buxton we saw lots of snow, every year, even out of season. It even snowed in Buxton when you and I were in the hospital the week of your birth at the end of April! As you baby in Buxton you experienced snow, kind of, being carried around in the Ergo Carrier touching and looking at the white stuff. We moved to Derby before you could walk, and it didn’t snow here last Winter. So you had never walked through snow until this month!

The day after Papa’s birthday we woke up to a white Derby. I had plans to clean the house and start packing for our trip to Japan, but that all got canceled because there was no way I was going to pass up a chance to play with you in the snow! We put on our winter gear and headed to the white park. You loved the snow! We loved seeing you in the snow, experiencing walking through it, throwing it, hearing it crack under your boots. The only thing we didn’t do was built a snowman, we kind of forgot, we saw a couple of snowmen though. Hopefully, next time. We stillhave Winter ahead of us, so there’s always a chance of more snow!

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