This image is taken from here
Ever since she was a wee little mite, Sophie has always been clear that she knows her own mind. It's manifested quite clearly in her toddlerhood and days are filled with that strange tango between "I need mummy" and "I'm a big girl now". This gives me a strange premonition about her adolescence!
Anyway, I love our morning feeding sessions. As a working parent, having fixed regular times that we both look forward to is something I treasure, and my feeling was that I would let Sophie decide when she'd wanted to cut this last vestige of her baby-hood. Since we both enjoyed it so much, I didn't think she was ready to do this anytime soon.
Imagine my surprise a few days ago when I asked her "Sophie do you want some milk?" and I made the sign for milk. She signed "milk" back and shook her head. Puzzled, I still took my boob out, and offered it to her. Once again, she shook her head and clamped her mouth shut and signed "cheers" (clinking and imaginary cup). I took her cup out, poured some cow milk into it, and she drank all of it. Just like a big girl! She went without nursing for a couple more days and we almost made it to the end of the week. I didn't pressure her or say anything, but I did feel just a teensy weensy bit rejected...
Then this morning when I went to her room to get her, she signed "milk" again, and pointed at the sofa in her room where we normally nurse. Just in case I didn't understand she toddled over to the sofa and start patting it insistently, whilst signing "milk" repeatedly. Okay, so we're not about to kick the mummy's milk habit just yet. Great, because I don't want to!
ALERT: Overwhelming Parental Pride detected in the following sections. Proceed with caution...
She can associate "milk" with her toy cows, or her picture books. How this happened I have no idea. I generally don't bother with flashcards or baby einstein or whatever brainboosting ideas that clever marketing people come up with. I think I am just afraid of what might happen if I really started getting into it. Given my personality, I might feel a great deal of pressure to be the "perfect" Suzuki parent or something like that, and Sophie would consequently feel alot of stressful sub-current. So I generally give wide wide berth to anything claiming they can make a genius out of your kid. (think: Barge Pole and 100 foot) That is not to say that I don't try to keep updated on child-rearing trends, philosophys and general parenting information (usually fact-checked, researched and filed in alphabetical order), but I just want Sophie to have a happy child-hood.
Since I really enjoy reading, I've read to her regularly from birth. I also think I would go nuts not knowing how to communicate well with her, so we've signed to her regularly too.
A recent development has brought home the fact that these were great decisions, and Sophie is no less clever (and the proud parent in me whispers - probably even smarter) than her peers.
Apart from using sign language to communicate her physical needs (the usual suspects are: milk, hungry, more, hug, play, thank you, bye bye - not necessarily in that order!) Sophie has recently made the quantum leap from physical to abstact and now can associate ideas into images. Example of this - show her a picture of a cow and she will sign "milk". Substitute this for a picture of a dog and she will say "wow wow". I know it is not merely repetition/reward (like in flashcards), but genuine understanding because she does this even if she has never seen this particular photo before.
She never ceases to amaze me.