Yup, another nickname is taking hold for Aliya: Booshki. 1.5 years old. Crazy. Funny. Strong. Talented. Smart. Sweet. And it doesn’t need to be said, but I’m going to anyway: just cute as hell. We still call her Bo-Bíj and Keana likes to call her Li-Li, but Booshki has been one of my personal favorites lately. It really seems to capture her cuteness and sweetness, but has that edginess that is really starting to come out in her too.
The Girl is a climbing machine. She’s going to be our little rock climber if any of them are. This morning she had one leg up on a dining room table chair—which had been too high for her to climb not that long ago—and a tiny vice-grip on the very narrow edge of the table. There was some huffing and puffing and grunting, but she made it up. This wasn’t the first time, but it was a really good example of her strength and shear will. Then of course, she proceeded to try and climb up on the table, which she can easily do too. Luckily her sense of heights and caution have kicked in too, but she still is clumsy enough that she’s fallen off the couch and definitely has to be supervised. I mean, shouldn’t we all when we’re climbing on the table?
Along with climbing has come her thirst for speed (which isn’t exactly new either). Maybe it’s a push to keep up with her two bigger sisters, maybe it’s for the joy of it, or whatever, Aliya is ready to run. It’s the cutest thing to watch her get her motor going with her short, chubby legs moving as quick as they can as she swings her arms side to side, slightly bent at the elbow. This is all accompanied by a huge grin and an occasional squeal of delight. Just tonight in the kitchen, post-bath with her Elmo towel as a cape, she was copying Sarah as she said, “Ready. Set. GO!” and would take off racing to the edge of the tile, then return to position to do it all again. Aliya loves to chase too. You just have to give her a certain look and she peels off in the opposite direction, sometimes spinning too fast and tipping over. She actually corners pretty well, almost losing control, but somehow sticking it just as you prepare to cringe and look away. She’s fast and she’s pretty tough.
Speaking of tough, Aliya is working on her scowl. It’s hilarious. She squints her eyes a little, furrows her brow, and looks you dead in the eye. She doesn’t back down either; she holds the intensity. Also, when she’s wronged somehow, like a sister takes a toy from her, she stands there, still, head slightly down towards the ground, panting slightly with either indignation or indignant rage, brow furrowed and a look that means business. After all, she is the third girl in a line of strong little ladies. Aliya’s going to be sweet, but I don’t think she’s going to stand being crossed. It’s really interesting to see this side of her developing and somehow feels like she’s becoming more emotionally complex, even though I know she has been already, we just haven’t seen the spectrum like we are now.
I guess you can’t have complex facial expressions and emotions without a more complex vocabulary and Aliya’s working on that too. She often says things that almost sound exactly like a familiar word or phrase, but she doesn’t incorporate it regularly enough to be considered “learned”. Like I said though, tonight she was clearly saying “Ready. Set. GO!” with just the slightest baby accent. And even though she may not be able to say full sentences or anything, you really can ask her almost anything she’s familiar with, and she’ll give you a yes or no answer. It’s really cool to be able to ask her, “Do you want this?” or “Are you hungry?” or “Are you ready to sleep?” and get the answer without having to put all the other clues together. She of course goes on and on in her own language, practicing, which is always fun to listen to. She even puts in hand gestures like she sees us use to match the tone of her little speeches.
Along with her speech she’s also developing her musical ear and singing. We have several “team” songs that are call and response in nature, and she’s singing right along with Keana and Maia on the responses, often nodding her head to the beat and swaying her shoulders. Aliya loves to dance, just like her sisters, and she will get down when the mood (or music) strikes her. We could watch her all day. Even if she’s strapped into her chair at the dining table, she’ll start swaying and swooping back and forth like Stevie Wonder when she’s feeling the music, sometimes with a hand in the air as if she’s been to a rock concert. Genetic memory?
The last thing I want to share tonight is her fierce independence. Aliya is ready. Period. If she sees it done, she wants to do it. It’s very difficult sometimes because she’s just not quite capable, but she will throw a fit to try. We try and let her have a chance as often as is safe, but it is a real test of patience. Decorating the Christmas tree was pretty crazy. Keana and Maia are able to help out now, Maia maybe a little less, but Aliya was chomping at the bit to put glass bulbs six feet off the ground and was literally trying to climb the tree to get there. Same goes for running at the park, riding bikes, eating, and just about anything else you can think of. We know it’s an important step in development and definitely something we want to support, but with the demands of Keana and Maia on top of a lunging, screaming baby, it can definitely be tough. It’s one of those “good problems” though. It’s good to have a kid who is ready and willing to try new things and has that insatiable drive to learn and grow. She definitely falls more than the other two, even more than Maia did, which I guess is just the natural progression as you have more kids. I don’t think it’s due to our neglect, because after the way her birth went, I feel like we may even been more cautious with her. It’s just not possible to protect her every move like we did with Keana and Maia, and I think that’s probably a good thing.