Iris has always been a pretty vocal kid (at least when her mom & dad are around), expressing herself long before she could say a word. And there is no doubt that she LOVES animal sounds. Now maybe that’s common for kids, but Iris could always muster up a "woof" or "baa" on cue. But lately, something has happened. She has taken her animal mimicry to a new level. Maybe it’s all the time she spends at the zoo or maybe Cherise and I are stressing the animal sounds when we read to her, but she is turning animal noises into an art form. Suddenly, every stuffed animal is her opportunity to put on a show. Without being prompted, she’ll walk up to me holding her bunny and yell "HOP! HOP! HOP!", reaching deep down to extend the H sound ("HHHHHOP!") to the point where her body shakes (NOTE: This would be a lot cuter if it wasn’t at 6AM while daddy is trying to get some extra sleep). When she pulls out the owl, she yells "HOOOOOOOOT! HOOOOOOOOOOOT!" When the frog comes out, she yells "BIT! BIT!" (short for "Ribbit!"). She has also gotten good at pounding her chest to imitate a gorilla (have you ever seen a two-year pound her chest? it’s quite entertaining). I have to admit that this behavior has changed our daily way of life. Imagine being Cherise when her husband decides to get into the act and you have dueling froggies (Iris: "BIT!", Daddy: "RIBBIT!", Iris: "RIBBIT!", Daddy: "RIBBITRIBBIT!", Mommy: [eyes roll]). Yes, if we do have another kid, Cherise will already be able to claim experience in dealing with two children.
Of course, we’ve taken the show on the road. Sometimes, Iris is imitating what the animal would say. Other times, I think she is trying to talk to the animals, which is what happened when we saw a dog at Starbucks last week. While I was putting Iris in the stroller, I was trying to distract her said "look Iris, a dog!", she immediately turned and yelled at the dog "WOOF! WOOF! WOOF!" She was a little disappointed when the dog didn’t notice (though the dog’s owner definitely noticed) and started barking louder and longer–"WOOOOF! WOOOF!". She then looked at me with a furrowed brow as if to say "what the heck is wrong with that dog?". I shrugged my shoulders, then she shrugged her shoulders, and then we moved on (I love my non-verbal communication with Iris–it’s like we’re on another wavelength). Cherise and I are starting to use this animal fascination to our parenting advantage. The other day, when we couldn’t get our budding zoologist/thespian to eat some rice, I poured a little green curry on some and offered it to her as "froggy rice". Suddenly, she got excited and ate it up. Of course, she would take a few chews and then yell "BIT!", shooting a couple of grains from her mouth onto the tray. OK, it wasn’t pretty, but no one said parenting was pretty.