Over our Christmas vacation in Pensacola, Florida, with Chris’s family, Chris’ mom, Jackie, took us all to the Naval Air Museum at the Air Force base in town.Â Chris and I had been a thousand times before on class field trips as we grew up, but this was our first time going with Bean and, like so many other experiences, this one was just better because Bean was with us.
He’s really into airplanes right now (“eha-panes”) so this museum was the perfect place for him to explore. It’s basically just a big aircraft hanger with restored government planes dating all the way back to the beginning of flight. You can touch anything and even climb in and explore a lot of them.
On January 1, Bean turned 19 months old and as we walked around that museum, it struck me how old 19 months really is. Bean is such an independent, active, on-the-go little dude right now and I just love it.
He isn’t scared of anything that we’ve found yet and his curiosity is one of my favorite parts about his personality. Actually, he’s a lot like his dad. Chris loves to wander around and get into things on his own, and I see that so much in Bean. Both of them are content to entertain themselves and they both do better when they are learning on their own terms, instead of being taught to.
If 17 months was all about independence, then 18 months was all about learning when to ask for help. I was pleasantly surprised to see Bean not quite so headstrong this past month as he was the month before that. I think he is learning that asking us for help doesn’t mean we are going to take over or tell him what to do. We help and then we back off and let him continue on and even at 18 months old, I can tell Bean is learning to trust that about us.
One of the greatest things we have taught Bean this month was the word “help.” Whenever we would see him struggling with something, we would ask him if he needed help instead of just jumping in and doing it for him. When we asked, “Do you need help?” he would repeat back to us, “Help,” and then that gave us permission to help him out. Sometimes he would actually say no, that he didn’t want help and so we’d let him figure out whatever he was struggling with on his own. But when he would ask for help, we made sure to just get him started on the task at hand and then turn it back over to him to finish. We never wanted him to feel like asking for help meant that he couldn’t do something himself. Now, Bean will come to us and ask for help without us prompting him. It’s a nice way of showing our respect for Bean and for Bean to learn that asking and receiving help doesn’t require that he give up any of his independence.
Another thing that has taken off this past month that seems to really help with the temper tantrums is Bean’s ability to communicate and his ability to understand abstract concepts. He is talking up a storm and every day he seems to be adding new words to his vocabulary. He now understands what and where “home” is and so when we’re out somewhere and he starts to get fidgety, I can explain that we’re going home soon and he seems to understand what that concept means. He usually starts giggling and saying something about seeing Lucy and Molly (or Daddy, if Chris isn’t already out with us). Another concept that has really helped things is the idea of waiting and being patient. Though he is hit or miss on actually doing it, he does understand what it means to wait for something. So, if I say that he has to wait before we can eat dinner or he has to wait before we can leave, he understands what that means. He might not WANT to wait, but he at least knows what we’re saying.
I’m so happy that Bean is still as interested in books as he has always been. He still loves to be read to, but he also loves to read out loud to us or to his stuffed animals. In fact, just tonight after I had read two books to him and I put him down in his new big boy bed, he asked for a book to read in bed. So, I tucked him in with a little board book and he read until he fell asleep. I love that about Bean! I hope he keeps this love of books and that as he gets older we can start reading more together.
One thing that is totally new and surprised me and Chris’s mom until neither of us could hardly say a word was Bean’s ability to work puzzles. He got several new puzzles for Christmas from both me and Jackie. One night over vacation we were all sitting in Jackie’s living room together and Bean pulled out one of his puzzles and without any help from anyone, he put every single piece into the correct spot on the first try. We tried not to squeal and call too much attention to it so we didn’t distract him, but it was really hard not to shout out, “MY BOY’S A GENIUS!” He pulled out a second puzzle and did the same exact thing – every piece in the right place on the first try. And this time I couldn’t help myself and I actually did shout out, “MY BOY’S A GENIUS!”
Another thing that surprises me is how much he is learning at school these days. I hear him singing bits of the alphabet perfectly clearly. I see him counting to five (though his favorite is, “One, two, three, GO!” and, for some unknown reason, “Two, five, GO!”). He can identify just about any animal, including dolphins, whales, and turtles that he learned on our trip to Sea World over Thanksgiving break. He knows every single body part from his head down to his toes and can even sing, “Head, shoulders, knees, and toes” now. Though most of these little bits of knowledge are sporadic and he remembers them mostly because of songs he likes to sing, I still love that his little mind is soaking up all that knowledge during the day. It makes me feel even better about our decision to put him in daycare.
I find that I say this just about every month, but 18 months really has been my favorite so far. Chris and I love that we are able to communicate so much more with him and that he seems to be growing and learning and developing at such a fast pace, while still keeping that easy going attitude that we love about him. But my favorite part of 18 months? Bean learned to say, “I love you, Mama” and “I love you, Dada.” And that is, hands down, the greatest thing I’ve ever heard.