Back in the day, my grandpa taught us to drive. I'm not sure why Grandpa got the task, but I'm guessing it had something to do with the fact that he was retired, had a different level of patience for us than my dad, and maybe he'd lived enough life that he wasn't fearful of losing his if something went wrong. (I don't know, I'm guessing.) Anyway, being two years younger meant I thought it was great fun to ride along in the backseat during my sister's lessons. Let me reassure you, it wasn't glamorous since Grandpa was cruising town in a stick-shift Chevette. Make sure you read that right: not a Corvette, a Chevette. And it was brown. But this was also back when a fourteen-year old could get a learner's permit, which meant I was twelve when my sister began her lessons.
So I sat in the backseat, taking notes. I love my sister, but she wasn't that thrilled with the situation and didn't exactly excel at driving right away. I think she would've been perfectly happy waiting another couple of years to learn. I, on the other hand, was ready. And eager. And had to bide my time, riding around in a hot hatchback patiently absorbing all that sage advice. The thing I really remember is my sister being told to stop the car and that it would take, oh, I don't know, another few hundred yards and we'd finally slow to a stop. And every time she'd get in trouble - something along the lines of "when I say stop I mean stop!" Fast forward two years and it was finally my turn. I was ready. And the first time I was out driving and someone told me to stop, I gave us all whiplash by slamming on the brakes.
What, you may ask, brought up these memories for me?
Well, it seems Miss Natalie has just been riding in the backseat, taking it all in. And now she's starting to show us how much she's learned. All of this is so interesting to me, since we spend so little time "working" on skills with her but now she's surprising us daily with things she knows how to do.
It started a few months ago - around her first birthday - when she started pooping on the potty. If you remember Wyatt's issues with this, you'll understand why I thought we'd just go ahead and give it a try. I mean, if your 11-month-old is telling you she has to poop, why not take her to the potty? And it worked. And it kind of continues to work, though no one here is pushing it too much so please don't think I have a potty trained 14-month old. I don't. But I do have a baby who isn't afraid of it and that's a pretty giant step in the right direction.
We teach her signs occasionally, when it's convenient for us. She pretty much thinks one sign will cover it all and just gets loud while throwing some random gestures in hoping something sticks. But in the past couple of weeks, we've started asking that she use words instead of shrieking or grunting for what she wants. Trust me, it started as, "do you have a word for that? Can you say, 'up'?" and has turned into "use your words" because hey! She has a vocabulary stockpiled in that little body. And now? She's blowing her nose. Again, not all the time, but if we put a tissue to her runny nose, she blows (Wyatt just mastered that skill in December, as a reference point). Yesterday I asked Wyatt to clean up some water he'd spilled. I turned around and Natalie had opened the drawer, gotten two dishcloths and was wiping away her phantom spills.
So here are my takeaways from this:
1. Natalie isn't suffering due to a complete lack of one-on-one teaching time. If anything, she's learning to thrive in a "do as I do" environment.
2. She'll be the one to repeat every bad word, gesture or thought she's ever been exposed to, and it will come out when we least expect it.
3. Once again, this proves that younger sisters are simply quicker on the uptake than their older siblings.