A lot of the literature I’ve read says that the speech of second children is slower to develop, mainly because their older siblings speak up for them, thus robbing them of the necessity to actually tell you to bring them their freaking cup, NOW. Oddly, this doesn’t seem to be the case with Mandy, as I’m pretty sure she’s actually a bit ahead of where Sam was at her age. This is probably because Sam rarely tells us what Mandy is trying to say, instead opting to tell us what Sam wants Mandy to be saying. So Sam will loudly proclaim that “Mandy says we should all go outside and play on the playground,” when Mandy has actually walked into the kitchen and stood expectantly at the base of her high chair while chanting “Eat! Eat!” The net result is that Mandy has actually had to work twice as hard to make sure she’s getting around Sam and through to us.
Whatever the case may be, it seems to be working. I heard Mandy use her first three word sentence this week (“Mommy, baby powder”), and I also heard her turn a verb into a gerund (“Elmo sleeping”), though I guess this could have been a simple case of repeating what she had heard. In addition to discovering these great gifts of language, though, Mandy has also discovered how to throw fits despite her normally sanguine disposition. If you take something away from her, she’s now likely to start squawking and flapping her arms like a chicken desperate for flight. This usually persists for a couple of seconds before she flops to the ground and yells into the carpet. Sam then informs us that Mandy is saying she wants us to all go watch an episode or two of Curious George.
You may have noticed some more carnival shots. We indeed went to another such event, this one much bigger and more replete with grifters who would take your five dollar bill in exchange for a chance to play a game and win a cheap plastic toy that cost some destitute, Chinese robot half a penny to stamp out. The kids enjoyed it, but it’s further testament to Sam’s tomboyishness that when she was invited to choose between a cheap plastic necklace and a cheap plastic dagger, she immediately picked the latter and spent much the balance of the day pretending –enthusiastically– to shiv her daddy in the kidneys.
Sam has had other adventures lately, too. Sadly, the little neighbor girl that Sam gets along with so well is moving away, and this was pretty much their last week to pal around. On Wednesday night Ger was out visiting her mother and I had put both kids to bed. After doing some stuff in my own bedroom, I came out into the hall to see that Sam’s door was open. This is not uncommon, as she often invents excuses to get out of bed and have us tell her to go back; it’s practically routine now. So I went downstairs looking for her, only to find that the screen door to the back yard was open, and that Sam had sneaked out to the back yard to play with the neighbor girl, who apparently keeps late hours herself.
I chastised Sam and ordered her back inside and up to her room. She complained loudly, but went. After closing her door I paused to press my ear against it and listen. Following a short pause I heard Sam loudly whispering (those of you with kids will know that such a thing is possible) to her friend. I opened the door and crept into the room to see Sam standing behind her bedroom window’s curtains and communing with her friend in the back yard like some all girls school production of Romeo and Juliet. Still unnoticed, I slipped over to the foot of her bed and sat there while I listened to her supposedly clandestine conversation.
“Natalie,” she said, “My daddy will give me a time out if I come out there again!”
Here there was a pause as her friend made some reply I couldn’t hear.
“Okay!” Sam chirped. “I’ll go very quietly down to the screen door and talk to you through there!”
Their secret pact made, Sam turned around to head downstairs again but she only took a couple of steps before spotting me. She let out a surprised gasp.
“Going somewhere, Sam?” I growled.
And that’s when she played her trump card. She started crying and blubbering “Please?” Now normally I’m more than capable of laying down the law and enduring any amount of wetworks, but it occurred to me that this was literally the last time she was going to get to play with her friend before she moved. I remember getting really upset as a kid when a few of my best friends moved away, and I furthermore remember a few times when my parents bent the rules to make me happy. So I let her go after extracting a promise to put on shoes and come in without argument when I called her.
They played for a half hour or so, chased fireflies for a while after that, and when I finally called Sam in she gave her friend a last hug and came in without complaint. She’s a good kid.