Miss Congeniality

QQ has always known how to attract attention. It was clearly her skill, even from the first photos we saw of her, months before meeting her in person. We were even concerned that, with that sort of institutional skill, we might have a little bit of trouble in the attachment process, teaching her that we were her family, and not just anyone who happened to walk by and be lured in by her smile. As it turned out, we needn't have worried. Our initial attachment phase was as smooth as clarified butter. We could not have asked for better.
In fact, these days, Q has a public routine. First, she turns on the charm and reaches out to any and every person she passes in the street - young, old, professional, vagrant. She is utterly without prejudice. Once she has caught the attention of said passer-by, she immediately points to me (or her father) and says "Mama!" very loudly and unequivocally. Once they have acknowledged that, indeed, they understand that I am her mama, then she goes on to interact with them...wave, babble, giggle, bat her eyes, give high-fives, etc.

What troubles her is those people who do not respond to her initiation, those people too busy, or too wary, or too shy, or too mistrusting to open up to a charming child. Those are the people that trouble her, and they trouble her deeply. She will frown, pout, repeat her effort at initiating contact...sometimes she will even attempt to chase them down (draggin us in her wake), unable to believe that they don't want and need to know her.
But as you can imagine, it is only the coldest and hardest heart that can pass by Q without stopping to smile and coo over her. Times like this, in fact, she draws a crowd without even trying.
QQ is a clever one. She is quick, happy, coordinated, talented, charming and adept. She's also almost two, which means that she's starting to get ornery. She has learned to say "no", and uses it liberally. However, her "no" is so cute that it's more charming than annoying. She can't pronounce "oh" yet, since the scar on her lip is still quite tight, so it comes out "Neh!", accompanied by a firm and unequivocal shake of the head. But because she is such a happy and humorous soul, she also can't help smiling each time she says it, so it comes out more joke than denial. As soon as she pronounces the word, the corners of her mouth turn up in that mischeivous little dolphin-smile of hers, and our hearts just melt.
Her communication level has also skyrocketed. She is still very shy of pronouncing sounds she isn't sure of, so her words are increasing only very slowly. Those words she's on the verge of pronouncing, like "ball", "LaoLao" (my mother), "bird", "flag", "please", etc, come out as a husky whisper. But while her language is still only beginning to form, her sign language is going off the charts. She is now creating elaborate signs, many of which we can't understand. Those signs which she initially did in a sort of baby shorthand, she has now perfected and honed so that they are ASL-perfect. Our speech therapist was astounded to hear that she is now "speaking" almost exclusively in two, three and even four-word sentences in sign language. This is apparently rare, since speaking children are only expected to link two words together by the age of two, and Q has not yet reached her second birthday.

That said, she is going to have some tough work ahead of her in order to learn to use her new upper lip to pronounce sounds that another child her age would already be using. Also, she is above all an athlete, and a very active child. She is able to focus intently on sporting activities, and practices throwing and catching balls in her crib (by bouncing them off the slats to herself), shooting baskets, tossing, kicking and bouncing them around the house. She also still practices yoga moves in her crib and on the livingroom rug. She recently acquired a trike, and is working hard at learning to pedal. Hula hoop is the latest activity she's taken on, and she's very close to mastering it. When it comes to quieter activities like reading, stacking, drawing, etc. her attention span is much shorter, and she has a harder time focusing.
Her very best skill is matching, and she is an absolute master. She seems to have a near photographic memory, and can see a picture in a book, album or online, and match it to its real-life counterpart instantly. She can remember new words, signs and objects on the first try. We have gone from simple picture books to complex picture books to comprehensive picture books, and she can accurately identify almost any object on any page. If I write a word on her drawing slate, she can often identify it correctly the very next time I write it for her, even if it's a day or two later.

Needless to say, I'm still waiting for the other shoe to drop. Yes, she is showing signs of the onset of the terrible twos. She has learned, for instance, to whine...something that no one looks forward to. She has also recently mastered the "fake cry", and uses it much more often than we'd like these days. Nevertheless, she is a loving, joyful and infinitely pleasant child. And we still feel like we've dodged a whole minefield of troubles with this kiddo thus far. I just hope that all the delightful and free-flowing childhood doesn't come back to haunt me when she turns 13...or 3. ;)


Vivian M said...

I remember the fake cry! Kerri is an expert at it.

QQ looks like one of those gymnast athletes with her pretty hoop(s)! I think it is wonderful that she has attached so nicely. The speech will come with therapy, no worries there. She seems smart as a whip!

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