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Audience Participation

We’ve moved in our daily life, Mad and I, to the audience participation
part of the show.

Madeleine’s spent much of her life being the
infant royalty carried around from production to production; she enjoys
her days watching a “show” unfold before her. She’s interested and
entertained, but doesn’t really see that it requires much back from her.

the past couple of months, though, our activities have become a

To start with, Madeleine actively sits on my hip now while I carry her.
Rather than simply perching on a hip and looking around in a glazed way,
Madeleine hooks her arm through mine in a thoroughly charming sort of
best-girlfriends-leaning-in-for-gossip kind of way. With her right arm
confidently hooked through my left, she swings her upper body around to
face outward rather than me, for all the world as if we’re off to see
the Wizard. We stride forward a la Laverne and Shirley, though only one
of us takes the actual steps.

She’s become very helpful in
certain activities during the day; getting dressed, for example, she
always has to hold a small toy for distraction. She now knows she needs
to hold it in first one hand, then the other as we get things over her
head and arms and she obligingly switches the toy from hand to hand when

Which leads me to another biggie- she understands
me!!!! It seems like such a small thing, but it’s made such a difference
in how we interact.

About six weeks ago I was sitting in her room
getting ready for a nursing and a nap. Her lovey – Silky 
– was draped over her crib and I was too lazy to get up and get it so I
said, “Maddie, can you go get Silky and bring it to me?” I was acting on
a whim, psyching myself to get up and go get the thing.

looked around, spotted silky, walked over and brought it to me! I almost
fell out of the chair. When I told Brian about it a calculating look
came into his eye, and later I saw him showing her the TV clicker and
saying, “Maddie, this is the remote. Remote. Remote. Understand?”

now that I know she understands a lot of what I’m saying, we’re much
more into a partnership and less into a servant/mistress relationship
(and in that illustration, I was the servant lest there be any
misunderstanding). I now ask her to go get Silky as part of her sleep
routine; the thing’s like Kryptonite to her, and one touch of it and
she’s rolling on the ground half asleep.

And it only begins
with Silky. If we’re playing and it looks like she (or I) needs some
quiet time, I’ll say, “Maddie if you pick out a book I’ll read it to
you. Can you pick out a book?” And darned if she doesn’t crawl to her
books, paw through them, and carry one over to me! Books, water cups,
panda, Silky, are just a few things she recognizes by name now and can
seek out. If we’re lying down cuddling and I say, “Maddie, where are
your feet?” she’ll look concerned, grab her feet, and crow triumphantly,
as if to say, “Why did you worry me? They are right here where they
should be!"

And here’s my favorite: her playzone in the
family room has an activity wall, with buttons that light up and play
songs when pushed. One evening Brian put her in the playpen and said,
“Maddie, could you put some music on for us?” She obediently made her
way around the pen and pressed a button, grinning a huge grin at being
able to help out. She loves being asked for assistance, and being able
to be a part of something.

She’s trying to communicate right
back, as well. She’s got the sign for “more” down pat and does it when
she wants more food, more water, more sliding in the park. She knows the
word for “tree” and “light” and “fan” and “kitty”, and will point at
them if I say the word. She’ll also point them out unprompted, and say,
“Buh?” “Yes, fan,” I’ll say back. “Buh!” She’ll say, frustrated at not
being able to mimic me. She wants so much to be speaking.

course, I’m going through an extended mourning period as her first
birthday looms –er- approaches. I’m already nostalgic over the days when
she was a teeny little cuddle bug I could hold in my hand.

I’ll admit – as she becomes a person, a participant in this family, I’m
loving seeing her grow, seeing her make choices, form relationships with
us, being able to truly communicate back and forth.

And if she
gets the remote control every once in a while, that’s ok too.


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