Alfie – Genius Boy*
Yet again our boy seems to have taken one of those leaps in development that leave us all a bit breathless on the sidelines. It’s like a growth spurt but at warp speed so that one day he seems quite an ordinary toddler and the next he has grown up immeasurably. So much so, that sometimes it seems weird he is still in nappies.
His speech and vocabulary are legend, especially round here where most kids are bilingual and therefore slower to speak early. It is perfectly possible to have a full conversation with him now and boy, does he know his own mind! He makes me laugh every day with his antics; just yesterday I asked him to come and put his t-shirt on and heard “no alfie t-shirt, alfie working” so I looked round to see him sitting in my chair at my desk in front of the laptop, tippy tappy typing away on the keyboard, pausing only to click and scroll the mouse. Hilarious! I had to ask him if he was making phone calls too whereupon he duly picked up the receiver and said “yes, yes, horse riding, one two three four five bye bye”. Amber and I were cracking up.
The horse riding reference was because it was my riding day. Our conversation over breakfast;
Me: Mummy’s going horse riding this morning.
Mummy: Yes, mummy is going horse riding with Karen, well remembered.
Alfie: Karen galoppy galoppy!
Me: That’s right! We saw Karen in the horse show going galoppy galoppy.
Alfie: Alfie horse riding?
Me: You want to come horse riding? (nods) Well next time maybe, we’ll see.
Alfie: Alfie galoppy galoppy!
Which is a wonderful ambition and only to be applauded I think. His memory is phenomenal. He has probably met Karen properly about twice and the horse show he refers to was 3 weeks ago. The memory thing started with him talking about our Thai holiday back in March, when he kept saying “TommyAnnaAaairh” (= elephant) because we’d all gone on an elephant safari, which clearly stuck in his mind because he has talked about it ever since. Similarly, any reference or visit to the beach merits a mention of TommyAnna (Uncle Tommy and Auntie Anna, my brother and sister-in-law who we holidayed with). And take a couple of weeks ago for instance, when we were in traffic behind a car with lots of teddies in the back window, which I pointed out to him. “Timmy’s teddy uh-oh” he kept saying, referring to an episode of Timmy Time where Timmy had indeed lost his teddy – which he had watched weeks before!
Not only that but last week he asked his very first question, completely unprompted by either of us; “Where airplane gone Daddy?” on the way from the airport in Bangkok to our hotel. We have talked a lot about ‘airplanes’ recently, having fetched and deposited both Nannie and Daddy at the airport in the last month and now Alfie having his turn by going to Bangkok again. But to take that further and wonder where the airplanes are when you are not there was a leap in comprehension I hadn’t reckoned on at this age. And he LOVES airplanes; his favourite toys are a set of BA airplane, luggage trolley, bus etc on a plastic square of ‘airport’, one of those cheap box sets you get on board and which Daddy brought back with him last time, never mind all the fancy new toys he had too!
Of course he’s still fantastically cute (no bias here, oh no). Lolling in bed the other weekend, Pete said to him “you drinking your beer Alfie?” to which he replied a most indignant “no alfie drink beer, alfie drink milk!” as if Daddy were the silliest man in history. There are a lot of adult expressions creeping in now too (we have had to spell words we don’t want him to hear for a long time) such as “wow” and “ok” which are current favourites. Also heard are;
Come! and Come on! (often dragging a reluctant Maia by the hand)
Put it here
Oh my God
No thank you (so polite!)
Sorry (all his own doing, we have not had a hand in teaching him this word at all)
See you later/in the morning
He loves learning names of adults and marches into Maia’s house shouting “Hej Hej Jens!”, Kai’s daddy gets an equally exuberant “Hey big buddy!” (Brian is American) and he uses Kanako and Ako’s names much more now (a very polite “thank you Kanako” melted me recently). In fact he loves learning and using new words and can now say Hello and Thank you in Burmese, Thai, Japanese and French using the correct words liberally when prompted. The other day he heard me say ‘impossible’ which he mimicked all day; I thought it was so funny I taught him to say ‘that’s ridiculous’ too which is the cutest thing. Bad mummy.
However, he totally floored me the other day when he sang an entire song in Japanese! Two of our neighbouring kids are half Japanese and have the same singing nursery rhyme book which he has always loved so he just picked it up and sang along. Wow indeed! I will be very happy if he ends up speaking Japanese, bless him.
He sings constantly, especially in the car, but often just to himself as he’s playing. He knows whole songs from start to finish and he loves to substitute names and things in appropriate places. I think he can sing the entire repertoire of our Singing Group too, though to be fair we haven’t changed it much in 6 months so that’s understandable. One of the most heart-wrenchingly sweet moments was on the airplane to Bangkok when he joined Daddy in singing two verses and the chorus of Athen Rye (it’s been Daddy’s night night song for a long time but we’ve never heard Alfie sing it before). Oh my!
He’s marginally interested in mummy’s belly and the new baby and will give it a pat every day or so and say “Hi Baby” or “Hi Baby this is your brother Alfred” . He came to look at baby in mummy’s tummy on the TV in hospital and when Brian asked if he had seen the baby in mummy’s tummy he immediately looked towards the TV in their house, as though it might appear there too.
But of course by far the most noteworthy achievement as far as I am concerned is that two days ago he said, entirely spontaneously, “Love you mummy” on his way up to bed.
Yesterday he sat at the tea table with daddy and said, out of the blue, “Alfie tired, Alfie go nanights” which is hitherto unheard of. And he pored over my magazine today, fascinated by a leggy blonde in an advert. He suddenly scratched at her leg and said solemnly “no scatching” which he knows is the rule if he gets a mozzie bite. Luckily he loves ‘magic keem’ or in fact ‘keem’ of any kind (mappy keem, arnica, anthisan) when he gets a “hurtie”. He’s great at most chores, like mozzie repellent, brushing his teeth, washing his hands, taking medicine, but can get very irritated if you take his jamas off too soon or change a nappy he has become attached to.
Previously shortened words have become normal, so Aaih is elephant for example and kraku is now crocodile. Despite his incredible verbal dexterity, and knowledge of animals, the noises they make and what their babies are called, he still steadfastly refuses to say anything but ‘neigh’ for a horse. Until Nannie came along that is, and sneakily introduced him to Ride a Cock Horse to Banbury Cross, which is the only time we have heard you say horse. And no-one else is allowed to sing that song now so I guess we’ll have to wait until we see Nannie again!
The only fly in our ointment, as it were, is that Alfie has been waking around 5am for the past 2 months and we are all slowly going mad. Nothing seems to work to get him back to sleep and we have tried later bedtimes, earlier suppertime, more exercise, sleeping in mummy and daddy’s bed (disaster), you name it, all to get him back to his‘normal’ time of 6 – 7am which is psychologically so much easier to cope with. But no, as yet no solution on the horizon.
Except… we are going on holiday on Thursday, spending a few days on a beach in Pula Weh, Indonesia, with a stopover in Kuala Lumpur on the way back. And shortly after that, Alfie and I go to the UK for nearly a month. So here’s hoping that a shift in schedules and time zones might jolt him back into a normal waking up time. Because one thing is for sure, bright and funny or not, at 4.45am of a morning we both just want to chuck you out of the window, figuratively speaking!!
*so named by our landlady in Thailand