The first thing you need to know about Finny recently is that with a months-long verbal explosion has come a personality shift. He's still the same boy who loves to jump before looking, gives us the sly eye before teasingly contradicting us--his favorite game is to announce that something is "hot" until we declare it cold or warm, and then debate us in between fits of giggles. He also likes to point at his transportation decals and say with an upward inflection "Truuuuuuuuuck?" as he points to a bus, grinning.
But probably like most kids, Finn is empowered by this boost in communication, and there's something more confident in his manner now that he understands and is being understood. His crankiest period of the day is the typical one, post-nap and pre-bedtime, and particularly right after he wakes up. Yesterday, after a three-hour nap, he grumpily drove with the rest of us to Costco. He kept darting away from us and then freaking himself out once he knocked into a stranger's legs. Finally I pulled him aside while he was crying for "Daddy!" (who was quickly thrown over for "Mamaaaa!" as soon as we switched--you know how it is) and said "I'm going to give you a time-out if you keep crying. There is no reason to cry. Do you want a time-out?" "No," he sniffed. "Then stop crying." That was that. It might not have been if we hadn't been leaving anyway, but we were, and I was able to make jokes and cajole him until we were back in the car. THAT never used to happen, and I attribute it to bridging the verbal gap only because I remember it happening (several months earlier) with Will; as soon as he registered that we "got it," he was so much easier to appease, to reassure, to explain things to.
Finn is also more fun, because I don't feel compelled to baby him all the time. If he can comprehend my instructions (for the most part), I can trust him in our backyard or at his toddler program. We can concentrate on teasing each other, and I can encourage him with some success to play fair with Will and his other friends, to give and take and share. It also means that most of the time, I can allow him to join the big kids like he so desperately wants. Here he is apple-picking with the mighty three-year-olds (and Lala, not pictured):
It's really fun to hear him cobble together sentences. The other day he asked Ceci "Where Brendan and Riley?" Today he said "Time-out for Will?" And he's constantly saying simple phrases like "I did it!" and "I reach," or "I fell." All parents have different points on the timeline that signify where their kid moves up a level in person-hood. For me, this developmental jump is a big one. "I swimming!" isn't just bathtime conversation to me--it's how Finn can tell me he's proud of himself, a way of soliciting my praise and attention, and it makes me happy. He makes me happy.
Because he copies everything Will does, Finn pees in the potty every night before bed--the little potty. And once he's half-naked, he starts grunting "COOKIE? COOKIE!" Afterward, he gets an alphabet cookie and walks around with it hanging from his mouth. He also shouts "LUSH!" meaning "flush" while he's sitting there, and I have to remind him that the little potty doesn't flush. So...he takes it into the bathroom and flushes it there. This one doesn't miss a trick.
Finny kisses my belly and says "Hi, baby!" and I can now really see him as a big brother. He'll be talking to the baby, kissing him or her, probably trying to pounce while I attempt to deflect him. But it makes sense now. He's not just my baby anymore (although he'll always be that, too); he's a person with ideas and plans and perspectives and opinions, and I get to know him a little better every day. It's awesome.