Jamie is 19.5 months and it still amazes me as to how much she already “knows”. I’ve gotten a lot of comments lately from teachers and other adults, some who have just met her for the first time, as to how grown-up she seems to be. Sometimes they mistake her to be an older child, but because of her petite-ness they end up confirming her age with me and are most often pleasantly surprised that she’s still so young.
I did a quick check at BabyCenter to see where Jamie is in terms of her developmental progress at 20 months. It seems like developmentally she is on-track within the wide spectrum range, and maybe slightly ahead with several skills (I am trying to be conservative and modest at the same time!). So I wonder what it is that adults and other moms see that make them call her a wise old soul.
More than the reading or the recognition of shapes and letters and colors (where, if she’s in her moods — she says everything is “purple”), it could just be how she acts in general. She can speak in full sentences (although the words aren’t as clear, you can understand her intention) and she picks up on routines really fast. For instance, she already knows when it’s time to line up for stamps at her Kindermusik class. So even before the teacher announces it’s time for stamps and sits down to give them, she’s already following the teacher around, waiting for the line to start. Then she automatically sticks out her hand and says thank you once the stamp is given and walks away to get her shoes. She is very clear about our bedtime routine too, and tells me while I give her a bath: “Take a bath; brush teeth, read a book, go to sleep!”
She’s very straightforward and clear, there’s no second-guessing. She’ll say, “Tired Mama. Sleep,” or “Hungry Mama — eat strawberries please,” or, “Itchy Mama. No scratching. Mama will put medicine,” and she can pinpoint exactly where she needs the medicine applied. She even comes up to me to tell me it’s time to “change pampie” (what we call her diaper) after she pees and poops! I’m beginning to wonder if it’s time to potty-train her already.. Ahhh, but I don’t know if I’m ready yet for another round of that!
It’s also in the way she plays… she can talk to her stuffed animals and tell them bits of conversations and things that she did in school. She’ll even sing some songs to them, particularly at night when the lights are off and she thinks we’re all asleep. She also is okay to be left alone with toys with small parts because she won’t eat them. In fact, she has such great fine motor skills that she handles the tiny pieces so well. When I watch her play with the Strawberry Shortcake figurines (that say they are for ages 4 and up), it’s like she makes them talk to each other or go down the slide one after the other. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a 20-month old pretend play like Jamie does.
One can attribute this to many things: genetics, the environment, her social exposure in school; and they do all play a factor. But I honestly believe that a lot of the things Jamie knows now is because she’s constantly around Sam. Sometimes I do think Jamie plays and talks and remembers things like a 4-year old can. Sam is her idol — for lack of a better term — and she will parrot and copy and want everything Sam says, does and holds. Jamie’s learning curve runs at a much faster rate because she is exposed both her age-appropriate activities as well as those which her Ate does. I am lucky that she is a sponge and can absorb it all!
There are some things that I didn’t teach Jamie and was surprised to learn that she knew them already. I realized that Sam must have taught her these things unconsciously (or, consciously — because Sam is a great big sister that way!). Counting backwards from 10, or recognizing the planet Saturn (Sam’s favorite planet), and even the names of the different Disney Junior characters, Jamie knows them all. In that respect, Sam makes my job easier to do because she’s there to help me do it too, and she may be even more effective at that!
It also helps that they get along (for the most part). We still have our daily squabbles because one wants what the other has ALWAYS, but they are learning to deal with each other. Taking turns and sharing is a hard lesson for Jamie to master but thankfully Sam is patient and understanding about the fact that her sister doesn’t understand it as well as she’d like yet. This is where Coach Pia’s words of wisdom come in about “establishing a strong bond with your eldest child”, because it definitely makes parenting Jamie easier. I’m not kidding… it really works! I feel that Sam is secure about where she stands in my life that she is willing to help me and even step aside when Jamie needs a little bit more attention.
More and more, I am inclined to keep the girls together as much as I can for as long as I can. It’s a little bit more difficult here in Manila (I admit) because of the traffic, the girls’ schedules and growing (separate) social circles. So for me, an integral part of their daily schedule is that they spend time together — whether it’s in structured play, or watching TV, or just being silly about whatever’s available. And it doesn’t diminish their individuality at all it seems. In some ways they couldn’t be more different, and it is interesting to watch those dynamics play out. But I do think that they can feed off learning from each other’s strengths, as it also somehow shows them what their own strengths are as well. Plus, I like thinking it also builds their bond with each other and makes them better friends in the future. If this is a preview of their relationship in years to come, then I think I may just get a good night’s sleep after all! 🙂