Claire has really surprised us with her vocabulary. At 16 months, she has probably twice as many words as Kate had at 18 months. (Here's my favorite video ever of Kate, naming body parts at 18 months.) Claire seems to lean toward the verbal and fine motor skills, whereas Kate's gross motor skills were so impressive. At Claire's age, Kate was climbing rope ladders and stuff on big-kid playgrounds, and climbing onto and running back and forth on the coffee table! I remember worrying about Kate's language development a little around age two, but obviously she's fine. Kids just develop at different rates and with different strengths!
Roughly in order of her learning them, here are Claire's words:
Daddy, whoa!, kitty, ball, book, Kate, Mama/Mommy, banana ("nana"), yellow, here, Lila (a classmate), cheese! (a smile, not the food), Popi, Nala, Opa (sorry, Granna--you're the hardest!), nose, eye, teeth, no, mine, thank you, help, shoe ("yoo"), baby, ow, and Elmo (which appears to also mean diaper, since Elmo is on some of her diapers).
She's coming out with a new one every couple days now, and it's so fun to communicate with her more. I write each new word in her My Quotable Kid journal so I'll have a record. (Kate's has lots of funny sayings and sweet memories in it, so I'm glad to have one just for Claire too, so they can each keep their own one day, along with their baby books.)
These days, Kate demonstrates her four-year-old verbal skills with increasing . . . personality, shall we say. She has a few go-to exclamations that make us laugh:
Now a big fan of Dora, Kate says "Aw, man!" like Swiper, but added her own spin to often say, "Aw, manners!"
A while back, Kate learned the expression, "No way, José!" (even asking sometimes about Spanish words by saying, "How does José say _____?") but her PK colors are showing, I guess, because now she likes to say, "No way, Hosea!"
When it comes to exclamations of frustration, we definitely have to watch ourselves. She picked up a bad one about a year ago, but she only did it a few times before our lack of reaction (or very calm, "let's not say that; that's not very nice") dismissed the behavior. She does say, "What the HECK?!" like I do, though. Switching to German isn't a cure-all, since we heard Kate saying "Scheiße" repeatedly the other night. Parent tip: act like they've misunderstood you. "Size of what?" I asked her. This works to defuse annoying sayings too. In our house, "nana nana boo boo" has become "banana banana boom boom."
Combining Kate's strong will with the verbal reasoning skills of a preschooler makes for some difficult arguments as well. Kate picked up the use of double negatives from some teachers at her day care, so we're trying to correct "I don't have no shoes," or whatnot into "I don't have any shoes." And while she tries to tell me "no" is okay because Ms. So-and-so says it (arrgghh!!!) she now corrects herself to say "any" with just a look. But, with the legalistic tendency of a preschooler, the word "no" is now verboten (except in terms of general defiance, of course) so when I happen to say something like, "She has no shoes," Kate will say, "Ah, Mommy, it's 'ANY shoes'!" Then we have to try to explain the concept of a double negative and how you can use a single negative either way, and it just gets complicated.
Some preschool logic is just too hard to argue with.
Yesterday morning, Kate was telling me she is going to be a princess when she grows up. Matt and I both try to combat this, and explain that princess is not a career (click for the Justice Sotomayor/Abby Cadabby video about that). So, I told Kate how you can't just become a princess, it's usually a family business, and that in our country, we have a president, not a king and queen.
"There are only, like, ten real princesses in the whole world, Kate," I told her, expecting a "nuh-uh" kind of retort.
Instead, she said, "Well, then, I'll be the eleventh."