For example, if Mary wants food, she's just as likely to try to obtain it herself than ask me for help. I try to be careful not to leave anything on the kitchen counters that might be dangerous. A few days ago, Mary was having a snack of some slices of cheese. I foolishly stepped into the laundry room right off the kitchen to switch a load of laundry, planning to be back before she finished her slice of cheese. Mary never even called for me, but when I returned she had climbed onto the counter, tried to slice off some more cheese with the knife I'd left out (!), and then picked up the giant block of cheese and was gnawing off of it, happy as a clam.
Lately she's been getting herself apples whenever she wants one. She doesn't ask me, she doesn't tell me, she just climbs up on to the counter, walks along about 10 feet, and selects an apple from the fruit basket. Then I find her and she announces calmly, "I'm eating an apple."
She's been filling her own cups of water from the refrigerator door for many months.
This sort of thing probably seems boringly normal to parents who had a child like this first, but it keeps taking me by surprise because it is so strange to me! John is almost four and still doesn't think to get his own food! I'm trying to encourage his independence and involvement in food preparation and cooking, whereas I'm going to have to restrain Mary from doing food preparation that is dangerous for her age.
Then there is sleep. Mary is in a transitional phase of learning to fall asleep by herself, and it's something we've been working on for a couple of months. Tonight I started her out in her crib and she cried and cried and called for me, so after several trips up the stairs over the course of 45 minutes, I offered that she could try starting out in the big bed. She seemed to be falling asleep well, so I left the room, leaving her "locked in" with a baby gate. Downstairs I listened on the monitor and it was wonderfully quiet, so she must be asleep.
Soon, however, I saw Mary walk casually past me in the kitchen. She announced, "I'm awake, Mama!" She had easily scaled the baby gate without making so much as a thump or pitter patter on the wood floors.
I took her back upstairs and told her she'd have to go back in the crib since she wouldn't stay in the bed. (Frankly, I think she could climb out of her crib, but she just doesn't know it yet.) She began screaming bloody murder, so I told her that if she wanted me to sit in the rocker and keep her company while she fell asleep (which she likes), then she needed to put her head on the mattress. But if she kept standing there screaming, I'd leave the room.
That girl stopped screaming, put her forehead onto the mattress, her bottom high in the air . . . and then she launched into a head stand. A head stand at 23 months old! She couldn't hold it for too long, but it was a true head stand for a couple of seconds. That little girl was following the letter of my instructions to put her head on the mattress, but she sure wasn't going to follow the spirit of my instructions (that she needed to lay down). That little spitfire did three head stands in a row before she decided to settle down and go to sleep.
Mary makes me laugh every day!