Seventy-Six is now about 18 months old, and seems to alternate between acquisition of social, linguistic, and motor skills.

Motor skills, for instance, he can jump up off the ground – getting a little air – at will and when asked. He can alternately walk or run. Sometimes he alters his gait to something that resembles skipping. He can build towers with blocks four or five high. He can pretty efficiently feed himself with fork or spoon. He’s learning to color and use a Magna-Doodle. He’s learned to climb up onto living room furniture without assistance (most of the time).

As to social skills, he answers questions, follows commands (when they are not too irksome), responds to conversational gambits, sometimes initiates conversation. He likes to play games that involve taking turns – uttering sounds, playing with items, playing peek-a-boo. He likes to play by himself. He likes to wrestle and play with the parents. He enjoys playing with other children. He expresses preferences for some types of food over others, and those preferences may change from day to day, meal to meal. Because he’s older, now, and more like a little boy than a baby, it’s harder for me to “let him cry it out.” Crying is, of course, one of the defining characteristics of babies. Sometimes they cry to blow off steam, and it seems like a normal, healthy activity for them. In an older child, however, I perceive crying arising from real distress. But I think toddlers still need to blow off steam by crying, still have no way of distinguishing between a serious problem and a minor annoyance – both may feel the same – without nice distinctions.

Linguistically, the little guy abbreviates words he’s not willing or able to completely enunciate by using the first letter of the word in place of the word. Tent is ‘T.’ Another child, named Ellie, is ‘E.’ Piano, Pizza, Peas, Printer are all ‘P.’ His sitter, Becky, is ‘B.’ Book, Bottle (now sippy cup), Bed, are ‘B.’ Other words he says clearly are Mop, Blue (Blue’s Clues), Keys. Other words he manages by uttering the first syllable, like ‘Tow’ for Tower.

An Adventurer Looking for Treasure

Moses Santiago of Amsterdam, FKO, Folbotforum, Facebook, and has uploaded one of his songs to YouTube. As soon as the song began to play on the computer here, little Seventy-Six smiled and began to dance (while leaning on something for support). I will say that my own heart when I followed it, like that of Hoffmann, led me more than once badly astray. Here is the song, sung from within a green canal boat in the watery heart of Amsterdam: