Tuesday, May 14, 2013

My son, Dadu

There are things you should know about Walter.

First, he pronounces his own name as "Dadu." We're not entirely sure what to make of this, because he can make the "w" sound really well.  When we say "Walter" does he hear "Dadu"? Or has he given himself a new name?  We think probably the latter.  He responds to Walter, but he gives a special little smile when we call him "Dadu," and sometimes he seems to be correcting us. "Ahem.  I prefer 'Dadu.'"

I figured that, at some point in his life, Walt might wonder why we gave him such a funny old name.  I even thought he might choose a new name or nickname for himself. I didn't think it would happen at 18 months, though!

You should also know that Walter is putting words together. Some recent favorites: "Bye bye choo choo!" "Mama cornbread" and "New puzzle."

Ah, puzzles. "PUZZLES!" Walter loves them.  He recently mastered a five-piece jigsaw puzzle at day care.  We haven't been able to find anything like it to buy for him, yet, but we got a few new puzzles including an alphabet puzzle he's getting very good at.  His fondness for the word has led Sean to teach him this version of the famous How I Met Your Mother dialog:

Sean: "We should open a bar.  We should totally open a bar.  What should we call it?"
Walter: "Puzzles!"

This is one of the main reasons we decided to have children.

Walter has a huge vocabulary and we've totally lost count at this point.  One of his best words/phrases is "ahkaiday?" which means "what's that called?"  He uses that to gather new words all the time.

But his favorite word isn't new.  It's kind of a classic.  His favorite word is "no."  Now, I know what you're thinking.  "Uh oh," you're saying to yourself, "Terrible twos starting early!" And that's probably true, but Sean and I have both been surprised by how ... well, charmed we are by his use of the word.  He has an enormous range of expressiveness with his no's.  And most of the time it really is quite endearing.

"Uh oh," you're thinking. And you're right. We are in big trouble and we know it.

Walter sings entire songs by himself now, with impressive accuracy.  He continues to shut down completely in the presence of strangers (and even relatively familiar acquaintances) but on our evening walks he gives a hearty "Hi!" and "woof woof!" to every neighborhood dog. This seems to be helping him warm up to our human neighbors, too.  When he talks to himself in his crib at night and in the morning he either sings a little song or names everyone he knows, including Hank ("Hankee!") and all his daycare classmates.

This weekend Umma and Baba visited and we had wonderful Mother's Day celebrations together.  Walter debuted many Dadu-improved songs, including "Hankee-hankee-hankee-luuu-ia." and "Old MacDonald Had a Cookie." We went to the Portage County Cultural Festival, we played and played, we even napped a little.  Every once and awhile, though, he'd stop what he was doing, point to one or both of his ears, and say very clearly, "Ow!"  Walt's been a little congested (we suspect a pollen allergy) and there was a little bit of not-bad looking discharge in his right ear, but he seemed pretty healthy to us.  We wondered if maybe he was experimenting with the concept of "ow": trying to figure out what it means and how the word works. Still, it seemed like a communication breakthrough of sorts and we decided to follow up on it right away.

I took him in to see Dr. L Monday morning.  It turns out that the tube in his left ear is out of place and making its way out of his ear (not unexpected, we're in the time frame now when that usually happens.)  The right ear, with the discharge, is draining just fine and looks great.  The left ear isn't draining anymore and is infected. 10 days of oral antibiotics (so not fun, let me tell you) and then we've got an appointment to see the pediatric ENT to figure out what's next.

Being able to communicate this way with our son is pretty amazing.  When he's scared or uncertain of something, he wants to talk it through with us.  During dinner, he tells us about his day. ("Choo choo." "Bus." "Slide." "Aubriella." "Henry.") And, now, when he's hurting he can tell us and show us what hurts.

Whatever name you know him by, this kid is pretty awesome.

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