Miss Understanding

Once upon a time, I would talk to Maddi all day long, despite the knowledge that she understood absolutely nothing I said to her. Eventually, she started to recognize a few words, most of which were food and comfort related.

But now that she is a big girl of eight and a half months, Maddi is a very savvy young lady. She understands all kinds of things, and during my running narrative, if certain ideas such as “high chair,” “kittycat theatre,” “Daddy” or “bath” come up, she’s flapping and squealing excitedly before we so much as head for the door.

But a few days ago, I discovered that she understood much more than she’d been letting on. As you may recall, Maddi is single-minded in her pursuit of a certain sliver of cardboard wedged in a heating grate to keep the vent open. Despite my admonitions of “No vent!” our darling daughter has been racing as fast as her little hands and knees can carry her to that forbidden prize.

In her repeated forays to the heating grate, Maddi has had ample experience being told “No” and removed from the naughty vent. Yesterday, when she headed toward the vent, I looked at her sternly and asked in my best “suspicious parent” voice, “Maddi, what are you doing?” Our little daughter looked back at me with big, guilty eyes. Then she motored for the grate with the most lightninglike speed a beginning crawler can muster. I scooped her up and placed her on the floor with a toy, but to my dismay, she employed her latest trick: crawling around the opposite side of the glider, wriggling behind it and accessing the grate via that alternate route. I suspect she thinks Mommy doesn’t know what she’s doing when she “sneaks up” on the grate from behind the glider.

“Maddux Elise, what do you think you’re doing?” I said in my best impression of a stern schoolmarm (while laughing on the inside at her pathetic attempt to pull the wool over my eyes). Maddi looked back at me with frightened saucer eyes and a quivery little lip. “The vent is ‘no!’,” I reiterated. “Come to Mommy!”

And wouldn’t you know, our little one turned around (no easy feat when you are wedged behind a glider) and crawled obediently right back to me!

Now, half the time, Maddi will look back at me with a hand-in-the-cookie-jar expression and then motor for the vent anyway, but a good portion of the time, she is able to rein in her impulses and crawl back to my arms.

It may have seemed pointless when she was a wee newborn, but my incessant jabbering has finally paid off!

And here they are: Adorable pictures of our 37-week-old!

Here’s Maddi doing something that’s a “no”:

And here she is chasing the cat after pulling its fur (another “no no”):

Even objects that are obviously out of her reach are not immune to her curiosity (we’ll have to find a new place for Mrs. Butterfly!):

And just when all the mischief has started to wear thin on Mommy, she makes her “I’m so adorable you can’t resist me!” face. (And no. I can’t.)

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