Talking and teaching, toddler style

Lilou is speaking. She’s a lot like Mr Bean right now: sounds so expressive, they seem like words! But “uh oh”, “wow”, “maman”, “hi” “bye” – she adds a few every day. She’s killing us with the delivery with her husky little voice and her shy peek. (“No!” came out this morning. She said it quietly, looked at Joy and I for reactions, and then giggled uproariously through her yogurt.)

Tess and Remy are like little parents. Every time she does something new, they clap for her and pat her enthusiastically on the back. She’s catching on, and now will plug Griff’s bink or bottle in his mouth clumsily but thoughtfully, like Tess and Remy do. The trick is she likes to pull it back out and do it all over again, for the applause. She definitely likes the positive feedback, but hasn’t caught on to the crying baby being the problem. Still, this girl is sopping up praise left and right!

I don’t think about these skills outside of how nice they make our home life, and the cuteness factor. But today, Remy went back to preschool/daycare. They have mixed ages in each pod, and Remy’s pod got a new baby. Remy calmly went up to give the baby a gentle hug, pressing his cheek to hers. I’m pretty sure I stopped breathing, because this rough and tumble boy has such a gentleness about him when he needs it.

People tell us all the time that we must be crazy, amazing, fools, masters to pull off parenting four under four while both working. We’re not any of those things. The kids shape each other’s behavior as much as we shape theirs. More is messier, but it’s handy when the 3-year old can grab the 1-year old a clean outfit, or sort the silverware like its a prize job. Remy’s a champ at taking care of Griffin or getting a toy for Lilou. And as I said at the beginning of this parental mush, even Lilou is starting to watch out for her little brother. It’s beautiful, and it makes me wonder if I was ever as nice a sister as Tess is, for example.

Let’s not be unrealistic. The screaming, irritation with sharing, defiance, and thrown sippy cups are firmly entrenched in our daily experience. Lilou’s favorite way to care for Griffin this week is to sit on him, and he hurled all over Dave at dinner. Still, watching the interactions and empathy growing between them and around them makes me feel like we’re doing something right.

I start every year by compiling all of our photos from the year before. Trying to remember where everything is stashed, and to pull photos from Facebook and Dave’s phone and my mom’s collection drives me a little batty, but it’s all worth it. Looking through an entire year of smiles and slapstick makes me grin from ear to ear while my heart swells. I know the stories will continue coming, and the photos will be never ending, but this is my moment of the year to revel in the richness of our life together: daddy-o, maman, Joy, Napoleon (Tess), Hystericles (Remy), Lilouzilla and Griff.