Two or so days ago, my husband's brother's wife went into labor. As planned, once they got to the hospital, John and I went to pick up their two year old daughter, Kayleigh. Kayleigh is staying with us now pretty much until further notice.
Sister in law had a fairly successful labor and delivery and now has a new baby boy. I think she and her husband may be home from the hospital now...I'm not really sure. We figure they'll get in touch with us when they want their daughter back, and until then....Fun, fun times!
So, I've been taking care of and playing with Kayleigh quite a bit in the past couple days. It's a blast, but also very time consuming. There are few moments where I can really get away and then it's only long enough to do small things. Snatch a paragraph's read out of my current novel or use the bathroom. Otherwise she tends to get a little destructive or dangerous.
All in all, she really isn't a bad kid. She does tend to do a lot of silly things to get attention. I really think she's getting a lot more attention here than she's used to. She'll wander into the bathroom where she knows she isn't allowed and the first time, I followed her in there to make sure she wouldn't get in trouble. She, with a knowing grin on her face, walked to the toilet and placed her hand on the flush lever and looked at me, grin firmly in place. I'm fairly certain, had she done this at home, her mom or dad would have screamed at her "No!" and grabbed her away. Realizing she was daring me to stop her, I shrugged and walked away saying "Go ahead and flush it. See if I care." And added, "the toilet is dirty though, so you might not want to touch it."
A couple seconds later she ran out of the bathroom and hasn't attempted to flush it since (not that I've seen.)
It's been that way a lot. She'll barely knock her head on something and turn to make sure I saw then burst into fits for attention. Times like those, I like to crouch to her level and look her in the eyes while rubbing her head or holding her hands and tell her she's okay. I've noticed that if I ignore her then she attempts to hurt herself further and really goes into a tantrum.
I'm hoping that she's learning from the time she spends with us. I've given her a lot of independence; allowing her to play with nearly anything she finds (so long as it's not dangerous or highly fragile) even if it makes a mess. And she's barely used the sippy-cup she came with, preferring to drink out of a regular cup. All along we've been allowing to feed herself with her own spoon or fork and she's been doing great. She didn't even spill anything on herself tonight at dinner!
It's funny about the spoon and fork thing because last night we took her to visit her mom, dad and new brother at the hospital and John handed her a small yogurt cup with a spoon to feed her self. Her dad said "She can't feed herself, she doesn't know how." John and I both looked at him with befuddled faces and told him she's been doing it fine with us.
And plenty of times out side, walking and playing in the nice spring weather too. The first time we took her outside for a walk, she beelined to the car and when I walked past it she stood there confused for a while. As though she never had been outside just to be outside before. I wonder if she only knows "You go outside, you get in the car." Which is sad, because the outdoors are so important for a child's growth and development! Not to mention helping them sleep better at night.
To be honest, I really have no idea how her parents take care of her when I'm not around. All I know is the times I've seen them with her, she gets yelled at an awful lot for doing just about anything that is natural to a two year old. I don't want to criticize their parenting, but that just seems sad. I've only yelled at Kayleigh once so far and that was because she was scooping toilet water out and attempting to drink it. My scream was sheer panic at the grody, germy nasty-ness of it I think it sounded something like "EUUUUUUWWWGHHHH!!!!!" I think it really scared her. So I comforted her and told her how dirty toilets were and I'm hoping she learned the lesson. We'll see.
My main goal for Kayleigh these next couple weeks is to teach her to talk. I'm pretty sure it's highly abnormal for a two year old's vocabulary to completely void of any real words. She jibbers a lot and says the same phrases repeatedly sometimes, so I know she wants to talk, she just doesn't have any english words yet. So we'll be working on that. I basically just talk to her a lot and point to stuff and say the name, shape, colour etc. I'm hoping that works. I really haven't any clear ideas on how to teach a two year old to speak, especially one that already knows a lot concepts and commands and obviously understands most of what I say to her.
We baked bread together, which she seemed to really enjoy. Especially the eating part. I'd post photos, but I'm not sure if her parents would dig that.
Update 4/10/11: Kayleigh went home after 10 days with us. I did not, sadly, teach her to talk, or even teach her to say anything. She did learn to drink from a grownup cup and learn the concept of being gentle with us, so I guess that's pretty good.
Update 4/23/11: According to her mom and dad, Kayleigh also learned how to gasp during her stay. Whatever that's worth....