Recently she has learned how to clap, how to wave, how to point, how to dance and sway, and how to bop. She is currently in training for peek-a-boo and blowing kisses. At times I feel bad “teaching” her these things because it feels very similar to when we taught Frasier his tricks. I think to myself, “Am I treating my daughter like my dog?”
It’s nearly the same process. Illustrate, repeat, reward. The only real difference is that Ava doesn’t get a jerky treat when she does something right…she gets a kiss instead. Which, knowing how pathetic and sensitive Frasier is, he would almost prefer a kiss over a jerky treat. Almost.
Something Ava started just doing on her own though is dancing. One day it just manifested itself. The first time she did the “Ava shuffle” was when we took her to her first Penguin game. She was sitting on one of our laps and music started to play over the speakers. We look over and Ava is swaying back and forth like Stevie Wonder. This was out of nowhere. Since then Ava will do her version of Flashdance any time she hears music. Ava has this robo-dog toy that sings and moves (click here for video). Sit her in front of that and she dances and kicks like a Rockette.
When she is not performing for us, she also likes to applaud. She will clap when you enter the room. She will give you a round of applause for making her bottle. She gives a roaring ovation when Frasier chases his toys. She gives a nice golf-clap when you change her diaper and she will give a rousing cheer after you read her a good story.
Most exciting is that she is starting to be able to make new sounds and use different letters. When she started to baby talk it was mostly sounds that started with D’s, T’s and L’s. Now she is making sounds that start with W’s, F’s and a bunch of others. A few times she has blurted out sounds that were close to words, but we aren’t counting those as first words quite yet. She also hasn’t quite found her M sounds either…sorry Mommy. Ava is only about 9 months old and it seems her first real words are just weeks away.
Another new thing is when people want to hold Ava and she is in a certain carnivorous mood, Michelle and I have to issue warnings. What I mean by this is that Ava is a biter. One again, she is just a few days shy of being 9 months old and she has nearly a full set of teeth. Michelle has marks on her shoulder from the Ava-saurus Rex that make it look like she was mauled by a rabid guinea pig. It border line sadistic because after she bites into you and you yelp, she just looks at you, smiles, and gives a few claps. There is a look in her eye that says, “I can’t wait to do that again.” If Ava starts to kill small animals when she gets older, I’m really going to have to worry. I really hope I’m not raising a modern-day Lizzy Borden.
As a father and husband I’m pretty lucky. When I walk in the house after work I am initially greeted by a 110 pound jumping chocolate lab. As I walk up the steps and round the corner into the living room I find my wife and daughter playing together. My wife gives me a smile and announces, “Daddy is home!”. My daughter starts to clap and giggle. Any bad day I might be having at that moment stops immediately.