I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that Gus has made his first sign--milk. At first, he only did it while he was actually nursing, but within a couple of days figured out how to use it to ask for milk as well. Oh, the cuteness! He walks up to me with a huge grin on his face and does the sign, my heart just melts. He has taken to making the sign with both hands, now, as well. He is just so proud of himself for being able to ask for something and getting a response. Maybe too proud, in fact, as I seem to be nursing him all. the. time. at the moment. That could be related to other things, though, including but not limited to teething, a cold that he has had for a couple of weeks, and the fact that it was unseasonably hot last week, so he needed more fluids. Also, I think that he uses the sign at times when he doesn't necessarily want milk, but is just thinking about milk or thinking of things that he associates with nursing, such as being cozy and secure and well-loved. Um, did I tell you that he is the cutest thing ever? There are times when it is obvious that he is asking for milk, but I think I am getting better at interpreting his use of the sign at other times. (I thought signing was supposed to remove the need for all this guessing and interpreting!?)
He can also do a second sign. Well, does it count if the second sign looks exactly like the first? We often walk to the neighborhood lake and look at the ducks, geese, and swans that live there, and he can now sign duck when he sees them. But you do have to use the context, since it looks exactly like milk. (Milk is signed by opening and closing your fist, as if milking a cow; for duck, you also open and close your hand, but keep the fingers straight like a duck's beak.) Gus has a little book of animals, where there are pictures of about a dozen different animals on each page. Last night we were all sitting in bed reading, and he had the book open to the page with all the different birds, and Jon and I saw him signing duck. "Look, Jon, he's reading!"
Gus does love his books. His particular favorites are books with animals in them (as he loves animals), but any book will do. He flips through the books with amazing speed, then will stop on a page that looks interesting and point and chatter about the pictures for a while. He often seems to know which page he is looking for--tonight we were looking at the above-mentioned animal book, and he flipped back and forth through the whole book (going 2 or 3 pages at a time) about three times before he finally landed on the page with the birds, at which point he stopped and showed me the pictures. The only problem with this activity is that he doesn't actually like us to read the stories to him--we obviously don't turn the pages nearly fast enough for our little speed reader!
It is funny how different skills progress. A few months ago, he loved knocking things down, then he learned to build and had no time for destruction. Then he went through a stage where he spent a lot of time taking things off shelves and out of boxes, but in the last week or two, he has started focusing more on the opposite--putting items in other things. (Well, he still loves to take things out, especially when I try to put his toys and books back on their shelves!) Today he helped me load the washing machine with the dirty clothes--although he didn't quite understand that we couldn't take them back out right away! I love watching him wandering around the yard, picking up dirt and rocks from one location and depositing them very methodically in another.
He also learned about squishing things this week. It was sweet watching him sit under the crabapple tree, using all his might to try and squish the rotten apples in his hands. It was not so cute when he found a slug as I was pulling weeds and tried to squeeze it!
I just can't get over how much he understands. I'm sure it has been gradual, but all of a sudden it hit me this week that I can ask him to do something (can I have that? should we do this? do you want to go there?), and he does it a large percentage of the time. Obviously, he still chooses not to do things sometimes, but he understands what I am asking.
At the same time, it is amazing what he doesn't understand. We are truly in the throes of separation anxiety. At the weekend, Jon, Gus, and I would all be chilling out in the living room, and then either Jon or I would go off to the kitchen or bathroom, and Gus would start fussing and following. And I don't think it was a "ooh, I want to go there, too" kind of cry, but more a "what?! don't leave me!" cry. Today at a friend's house (who we see every week, so I think he feels pretty comfortable with the other mamas and babies that were there), he started screaming and crying, with tears running down his face, before I had even left the room. I always have the dilemma of whether I should try and sneak out of a room without him noticing or tell him that I am just nipping to the other room and risk him getting upset as I go. Usually, I think that it would be more disconcerting for him to just turn around and not know where I am, so I tell him unless I will literally only be gone for less than 30 seconds or so. Or I take him with me. That happens a lot.
Goodness, this has turned into a real novel, and I feel like I am still forgetting something really awesome that he is doing! I guess there is always next week :)