15 months: learning the world

Posted by rosanne on May 9, 2010 in Developmental Milestones, Educational |

Where did three months go? Apparently, a one year old is more of a handful — who knew? More mobile (she started walking three days after her birthday, waiting until her party for maximum audience and impact), more insistent, more aware. I’ve been planning posts on language acquisition, how we’re faring with elimination communication (we recently bought a training seat for the toilet, which seems to strike some people as insane with a 15 month old), why Cry It Out is evil (and why the recent Australian study on it was flawed) and more… but I simply haven’t had the time to do the research (I recently got a promotion at work). They are coming, I promise! In the meantime, I want to share my amazement at the little things.

It sometimes seems that the entire first year is racing towards the six key milestones culminating in walking unassisted. And then the second year everyone asks, “Is she talking yet?”. What seems to be missed are all the everyday actions she’s learning that we need to survive on our own in this world. The rate at which she’s learning is stunning.

Let’s see if I can just start with some of the things I’ve suddenly realised she knows how to do without really noticing when we taught her:

  • When undressing her for the toilet, she holds on to something and then she lifts her legs one at a time to help us get her pants off.
  • She will go find her shoes, bring them to us, sit down and have them put on, then goes to the door and points until we let her out. She will then push the screen door open, walk to the step, carefully navigate to the wall and hold onto the wall to help her balance while she steps down.
  • She holds her own toothbrush and tries to clean her teeth. She also tries to brush her hair.
  • If we stand her on her step-stool in front of the sink, and run the water for her, she puts her hands under the water, then rubs her hand on the soap, rubs her hands together, waits for us to run the water again, flicks the water off and then gets off the stool and dries her hands on the towel (I think her Dad taught her this one while I wasn’t there, but it’s still a pattern she now repeats and knows).
  • If we go to a park now, she knows how to launch herself from the top of a slide and loves it and she wants to swing on the big swings.
  • She knows about buttons and switches — she can turn lights on and off and has figured out that pushing the Walk request button on the street needs your whole hand.
  • She understands about context — some of her signs now mean different things in different places, like patting a lap means “I want to get onto your lap” whereas patting a bed means “time to lie down”.
  • She has started using the “all done” sign to mean “no” as well, and you can now ask her a series of questions to try and elucidate what she wants.
  • She can build a tower of blocks that goes about six blocks high, predictably. She can manage eight blocks from time to time.
  • She high-fives, fist-bumps and can do “slip me some fin, noggin!” (from Finding Nemo, a small hiccup on our road to avoid merchandise, methinks) but is yet to utter “Dude!”. (Okay, these, we’ve taught her.)
  • She can climb up and down from the couch and our bed.
  • She uniformly holds books the right way up now. (This one was subtle. I’m not sure exactly when it started.)
  • She can drink from an open cup, although she needs to be reminded to use both hands from time to time.
  • She can close doors and lids and knows that’s what you do with them. She is constantly closing the front door if we leave it open by accident. She puts rubbish in the bin and slides the lid closed. If she notices we haven’t closed the lid, she will close it for us.
  • And lastly? She has worked out how to turn on my iPhone and launch an app. Talk about an intuitive interface! When she first started trying to slide that non-existent slider, I was amused. When she succeeded, and almost updated my Facebook status with dnfjfknj I realised it was time to put in a code lock. As it is, she punches numbers until it tells her “wrong passcode” and then hits “emergency call” because she knows that goes to a screen that’s more fun…

In rare instances, you get to watch the learning process first hand. In the bath the other day, I turned the taps off. After a while, I had washed her hands and they were soapy. She stood up and went over to the faucet. She held her hands under it but I didn’t want to wash her hands that way when there was a full bath. She tried pressing the faucet. She looked under it to see where the water came from. She patted underneath it. She frowned and might have been remembering what it was I’d done because next thing she tried was turning the cold tap on!

They say you need to do something 1000 times before you learn it. As adults, we look at that and groan; it seems like endless, boring repetition and it seems almost impossible. Watching a toddler practise putting a shirt on with Mama’s help, and then lifting their own arm, and then starting to get their arm into the hole on their own with the ultimate conclusion that they too will one day put a shirt on with no help, it’s just obvious. 1000 times? At twice a day, that’s only a year and a half. I’m confident! Let’s go!

As adults, most of us have lost this simple fascination with practise, with continuous improvement. We expect to learn everything instantly or at least quickly. A colleague recently refused to join the rest of us at a work outing to an ice rink, saying she’d tried it a couple of times and was hopeless at it. It takes months of practise to get walking right the first time. Why do we think we can learn a new way to do that in two days?

If nothing else, parenting is teaching me more patience than I ever imagined I had. More than that though, it’s teaching me the joy of learning again. Oh yeah, that’s something else my daughter does now: applauds every time she achieves a goal she’s set herself.

1 Comment

May 23, 2010 at 1:38 pm

I know you’re busy with work, but I really love your posts. I’d like to know more about your success with the potty. I don’t think you’re insane in the least to buy a toilet training seat early. I hear that babies quickly realize they have power over their bowels and desire to eliminate like us–if they’re trusted and encouraged. I think getting off nappies early is brilliant. I hope to tread in your shoes. BTW, other topics I’d love to hear more about include: baby wearing (which products did you use? How did they fare? What would you do differently or the same next time?). Also, your reflections about baby sign language. How many signs did you end up using a lot? Which of them a little? What would you do the same or differently next time.

BTW, I simply adore the ‘holding a book the right way up’ observation. What an amazing feat to consider at such an age. 🙂



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