Friday, April 23, 2010

Phases And Stages

And no, don't be confused -- it's not not this Phases And Stages. (And shame on you -- especially if you're a Texan -- if you didn't know about that classic Willie Nelson album.) I'm talking about NJ's ever-changing personality and the sounds, facial expressions and hand signals that come with that.

Early on, it was "Ma." Then, there was "Pa." Soon thereafter came "Ba." That was a while ago. Then there was a big-smile-and-vigorous-head shake phase, which was captured (oh so briefly) here:

Shot in the wild, the subject in the midst of a maniacal laughing fit. You'd expect her to morph into Vincent Price at this point, but she never does.
The head-shake phase lasted about a week. Then, NJ decided it was back to sound-it-out syllables -- she hit the "Ah" really hard, and for a long time.

Meanwhile, she's mixed in some pretty impressive raspberries. Dad Solo is a big fan of the Bronx cheer, and NJ has taken it to heart and can fire off some very loud, spittle-flecked raspberries that can last ten seconds or longer. She often drenches the front of her shirt trading raspberries with her old man. Her hands flit and bounce in front of her collar as if she's shooing flies away.

So now we've got the "Ah!" and the raspberry, and to that combo NJ has very recently added the most adorable clicking sound you've ever heard. She mashes the tip of her tongue into the roof of her mouth and drags it down sharply with a chlock that is cute enough on its own, but here's the thing: She can't seem to do it more than once without breaking out in a gigantic all-lips-and-no-teeth-because-I-don't-have-any-yet smile that will positively slay you four ways to Sunday. She and I have had conversations in which we've traded chlocks for a good minute or two; with each chlock, her smile gets a teeny bit wider. It's a good way to cleanse your mental palate -- particularly if you've been doing something unpleasant, like paying bills.

Over the past couple of days, NJ's thrown another aural delight into the mix: the all-purpose scream. It's fun, too, and you can have a good screaming conversation with her, even if it annoys the hell out of the dogs. It looks like this:

"Oy, mate, step off or I'll clock you right in the kisser. Bloody 'ell!"
So, to recap: Lots of conversations. All screams -- accompanied by flailing hands -- and "Ah!"s and chlocks. Eventually, of course, she'll be talking. For now, I like to think she's screaming "I love you, Daddy!" and the "Ah!"s are shorthand for "Great pureed carrots, Dad, thanks!" And perhaps the tongue-clucking chlocks are Na'vi for "You, Dad Solo, could not be parenting me better even if you wanted to, so remember that when I'm 14 and I act as though I hate and resent you, it will be a mere facade and deep down I will still love and respect you dearly."

Yeah, that's it. Music to my ears.

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