A while back I found a listing on Craigslist for one of thsoe big blown plastic play kitchens from Step2. It was $20 and I couldn't turn it down, and while it tends toward a fair bit of purple, it's fairly gender neutral. I figured it would be a good way to see if it is worth investing in a bigger one, new or used, in the future. I thought he was too young, but would grow into it. I was delightfully wrong.
He loves it.
He started putting his sippy cup on the "water dispenser" in the fridge door almost right away. He was about 14 months old when I bought it and I had no idea that he realized we were getting drinks from the door in the big fridge. But he was watching more than I realized.
Since then, I have been amazed at what he understands about the goings on in the kitchen, and the rest of the world around him. He brings his toddler plates (which he steals from the dishwasher when we are unloading...or loading...ew) and "washes" them in the sink. He will put his cup or snack in the fridge when he is done with it, and if I'm not paying attention, it might just stay there a day or two...yuck.
We bought him a set of Melissa and Doug "Pantry Food" when he was about 15 months old and he knew without being told what most of them were. My dad held up the box of "frozen waffles" and asked him what it was and he said, "faffles," before I had ever heard him say the word before. If we asked him to go get the juice from his fridge, or the butter, or the milk, etc., he would go in the play room, open the fridge, find it, and bring it back. And he closes the fridge door, which I love. He understood right away that it was play food. I made him felt cookies and he pretended to nibble them without actually putting them in his mouth.
While Jack was saying many of the early toddler words by his first birthday (mama, dada, nana, papa, etc), I didn't think he was ahead of the game. And I had no idea how much of a sponge he was. By 14 months, he was regularly using at least 2 dozen words. Now, at 18 months, he can repeat just about anything and is speaking in 2-4 word sentences frequently. He is no longer using signs unless, for example, his mouth is full of food and he wants his sippy cup.
He is learning the alphabet and numbers. If you say the alphabet, he will usually say the next letter rather than repeat the one you say. It blows me away. His pediatrician told me that this language skills are very advanced.
There is the unfortunate side effect of having him repeat what I say in frustration at another driving in the car. No cussing, but a fair bit of impatience and not-so-niceness. But the benefit is that I told him that cars say Hi by beeping their horns and if you ask him, "What does a car say?" he responds with, "beep beep! hi!" Adorable.
He knows the animal sounds for about a dozen animals, thanks in part to Sandra Boynton's "Moo, Baa, LaLaLa," a personal favourite. If you don't have any of her books, you need them. A big step up from Goodnight Moon.
Today, we waited in the car while my mom ran into a store and he kept saying, "Hurry, Nana. Go, Go, Go! Run! Come on, Nana, Come on, Nana," and when I asked him why Nana should hurry up, he said, "Guggle." Guggle is his word for Snuggle, or Hug. He wanted to give Nana a hug. Sweet, no? He's going to be sad when we move.
But I think the best thing is that when I say, "I love you, Jack," he says, "I love you, Momma," and kisses me. Melts my heart every time. I'm trying to pretend this age will last forever.