Two Wonderful Girls. One Day At A Time…

Archive for December, 2007

The Iris Spirit of Christmas

Growing up, I loved the Holiday season.  I suppose that doesn’t make me different than many other kids.  After all, there’s something about the combination of presents, no school, and playing snow football that is practically unbeatable.  My love continued throughout high school and college with the reasons evolving with every new stage of my life.  But as the years have passed in adulthood, the season has lost a little of its luster.  For the most part, I’ve accepted that it is marked more by crass commercialism, crowded malls, and a materialism that can bring out the worst in people.  I’ve found some ways to preserve the old Christmas spirit, but I was convinced that it would never quite get back to what it was.
But this holiday season has been different.  I’ve been seeing Christmas through the eyes of a two-year old and I love it.  It all started with the day after Thanksgiving when Iris helped me put up the Christmas tree.  She was excited about all the ornaments ("aw-ni-mints") and was excited with each new one that was put on the tree (many of which, she got to put on herself).  As each one went up, we’d tell her the story of the ornament and she would pay close attention.  Her favorite ornaments were the "crackernuts" (Nutcrackers) and she loved to point out our Big Bird and Space Needle ornaments.  Iris has worshipped that tree ever since we put it up and she REALLY liked it once gifts started showing up underneath the tree.
Of course, along with the tree, we had to put up our stockings.  Cherise’s grandmother made stockings for all three of us a couple of years ago, so Iris already had her own stocking.  But Cherise and I had our own stockings from many years ago and we’ve still been putting those old stockings up as well.  This did not go unnoticed by Iris, that constantly asked "Where’s Iris’ other stocking?"  So we got a stocking and some glitter pens and had a creative session. Of course, Iris’ creativity couldn’t be constrained to the stocking and now our refrigerator has become the Iris Glitter Art Gallery.  [Note to self:  glitter runs if you don’t let it dry.]
Meanwhile, I’ve been reintroduced to stories I haven’t heard in years.  Iris always has a huge appetite for stories being read to her and the season only increases that appetite.  Iris loves all the Christmas stories, from Frosty the Snowman to Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to The Grinch that Stole Christmas.  Iris particularly enjoys my rendition of the Chipmunks Christmas Story.  Whether it is me singing "Me, I want a HUUULA HOOOOOP!" in my best chipmunk voice or yeling "ALVIN!!!" in a voice that cracks her up every time, she always brings that book to me when I get home. 
Unfortunately, Santa Claus was a little tricky this year.  As we drove to our community Christmas party (which Cherise was helping organize) in which Santa would be appearing, Iris and I talked about meeting Santa Claus and Iris was excited.  But as we waited on line, an overzealous mother tried a little too hard to get a cute Christmas picture of her kid and ended up having the kid get hysterical.  Of course, that freaked out the next kid, which freaked out the next kid.  By the time, Iris got up there, the previous four kids were crying on Santa’s lap.  Iris didn’t have a prayer.  I felt like finding that mother of the first kid and whacking her upside the head with a Yule log (how’s that for Christmas spirit?).  Now, when we bring it up, Iris says "I didn’t like Santa Claus when I met him.  I didn’t want to sit on his lap."  It’s cute how she says it, but kind of a sad statement.  I guess I’ve got a goal for next Christmas season.  And thanks to Iris, I’ll be looking forward to that Christmas season more than any other in a long time.

Say What?

So the other day, I was getting ready for work when Iris walks into the room with a handful of Cheerios. She looks up at me and says "Daddy, would you like some Cheerios?" I look down and say "sure, I’ll take a couple." She hands the Cheerios to me and I eat them. She then says "Daddy, do you like Cheerios?" I respond, "yes, I do." Iris looks up at me and says "I like Cheerios too! I am going to give some to mommy." End of conversation and she strolls out, I soon follow, and head off to work.
As I sat down on the train and fired up my computer to settle into the commute, I thought back to the morning. I smiled about our interchange when suddenly it hit me…

Subjects. Verbs. Proper usage of the first-person. Referring to me as "you" instead of "daddy" when talking to me. When did my daughter master the English language?

OK, maybe "master" is a little too strong and it certainly hasn’t been consistent, but the fact that she can speak better English than some of my junior high classmates did at 13 is amazing. While much of Iris’ development is gradual, there is a huge chunk that happens without you noticing. Nothing is more gratifying than the increasing sophistication of our conversations. Her retention of information is a little startling and she never ceases to amaze me.  I totally understand people that study child psychology.  The development of the interaction is remarkable.

Of course, there is one challenge. Iris is still working on pronouncing certain letters, particularly "r" and "l" (in fact, I imagine the word "particularly" would be a real toughie for Iris). Now I’ve gotta admit that this speech is EXTREMELY cute. Plus, when she just says one word, you can kinda decipher what she is saying and it is fun to repeat it back to her in the way she says it. But, our little chatterbox rarely limits herself to one word any more. As a results, words run together and there are a lot of times when Cherise and I will look at each other as if to ask "what did she say?", hoping the other one caught it. Fortunately, Cherise is far better at this than I am and often helps me before I can even look for the help as she repeats what Iris says (I assume she is helping me, but then again, she may be unsure and just confirming what Iris said). Iris is fairly patient with her dear old dad, though there was one incident where I had a hard time differentiating between the word "ointment" and "armpit" (trust me, you can confuse those two) that made her none too happy. Obviously, these days will pass and she’ll move on to an eloquence that will put both Cherise and me to shame. And with it will come an ability to communicate that we will take for granted. But for now, it’s fun to have these conversations where we’re both so focused on understanding one another. It’s yet another part of this ever-evolving parent-child relationship that I cherish so much because I know it won’t last forever.

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