My daughter StarGirl is turning two on March 26, a fact I find astounding and awesome. Astounding because it really does seem like she was born yesterday, and awesome because of how much she’s grown–physically and mentally–since her last birthday.
What was such a major landmark last year is now commonplace and forgettable except for when she fails do to it (usually because she just ran into something, or something–like say, Madison–ran into her). She’s adept at running, and has a variety of techniques for coming down the stairs, her favorite of which involves sliding down on her butt.
Last year she wowed us by saying individual words; now we’re stunned when she spits out entire sentences. Of course, not all of those sentences make sense. Sometimes she’ll say a word we know–like Dad–followed by a slew of nonsense words, and then ending with a strident declarative like “snack!”
She’s learning and saying new words every day; just last night she surprised me by adding “Circius” to “JoJo” to yield “JoJo’s Circus”, She drops these little language surprises without even a thought, usually late at night, when all I can do is sit there and think “did she just say what I think she said?”.
She does have a few quirks when it comes to language. She steadfastly refuses to identify herself as StarGirl; if you ask her what her name is, she says “You”. She knows that she is StarGirl; if you ask her who StarGirl is, she points to herself. She just refuses to say her own name. In a similar vein, she will happily call her grandfathers “Pop-pop”, but does not have a name for her grandmas. If hard pressed, she’ll call them “momma”, but she will not say anything resembling the word “grandma”.
Finally, she’s decided to start shouting out “Sue!” when she wants her mom, rather than the more conventional “Mom!” or “Mommy!” I’m not quite sure why she does this — she always calls me “Dad” or “Daddy”. Needless to say, Sue isn’t overly amused by this.
StarGirl’s realized that computers are for more than just pounding on. They are also a portal to all things Disney, including JoJo’s Circus, Stanley and the Higgleytown Heroes. Each of these sites at Disney.com includes a bunch of mini games, most of which are still way too advanced for her to play (clicking and dragging with a mouse is beyond her … at least for today. Tomorrow she’ll probably be surfing like a pro) but she still has fun playing them with me as her wingman. The computer remains a treat; she plays on it for maybe 30 minutes a week.
Over the last six months or so, StarGirl’s been taking a keen interest in the television, which means Sue and I have to pay even more attention to what’s on the ol’tube. In doing so, we’ve been surprised by just how many scary movie trailers show up on primetime and pre-primetime television.
It’s not something you’d necessarily notice as an adult, but trailers for stuff like The Ring 2 or The Grudge are freaking terrifying to a little kid. When I see one coming now, I immediately turn off the TV or distract StarGirl.
“Backups, We Need Backups!”
We play lullabies on the CD player when StarGirl goes to sleep. It’s part of her routine, and the combination of the soothing music and the nightly structure helps her nod off faster. However, we’ve learned that it’s essential to back up the CDs she really likes to iTunes. This is useful for a bunch of reasons. First, it means I’ve always got a copy of the album with me on my iPod, which can be handy on long car trips. Second, and more importantly, it means I can easily burn another copy of the CD when StarGirl gets overzealous with the CD player and manages to badly scratch the original.
Books, Books, and More Books
Listening to my mom read books to me is certainly one of my favorite childhood memories. It strengthens those parent/child bonds, and, in my case, provided a major impetus for learning to read (mostly because my mom wasn’t reading fast enough, and I wanted to get on with the story).
So naturally I’m eager to do the same with my daughter. Sue or I (and occasionally both of us) read to StarGirl almost every night before she goes to bed. That’s starting to pay real dividends now, as she will now grab a few books, climb into a chair, and “read” to herself, pointing out the shapes and objects she knows, and making up words for the rest.
Trains, Planes and … oh, forget the rest … Trains!
StarGirl loves trains, particularly the Thomas the Tank Engine wooden train sets. She doesn’t have one at home, but we occasionally take field trips to Barnes & Noble or the public library, both of which have Thomas layouts. Usually StarGirl is pretty good about sharing and playing nicely with other kids, but when she gets near a train, she gets this manic look in her eye, and shouts out “My train! My train!”
My parents recently got her one of these layouts for her to play with at their house, and last Wednesday my little Dagny Taggert didn’t touch or even look at any toy other than the train set. She played with it from the time she got there, to the time she left … and put up a fight when it was time to go home because she wanted to keep on playing with them.
She also loves playing with her dolls and playing tea, but these just can’t hold a candle to trains.