The best way we’ve found to learn about Lila… is to watch her and do as she does – most times we hear her loud and clear even though she is non-verbal at this point. She just turned three, and here are a few of my favorite games that we currently play– she has created the majority of them herself and taught US how to play:
- Vocal Imitation: She says “ahhh”, then looks at her Daddy and me. We both follow suit and repeat “ahhh” in the same sing-songy tone. Then all three of us are singing “ahhhh” and she just loves it. It cracks her up every single time, and those moments when we are all connected like that and having fun are simply priceless.
- Big Bouncy Ball/Balloons: If she brings us a big bouncy ball or a balloon – she will then inevitably run over to the recliner and get on her back. She wants us to throw the ball/balloon up in the air over and over, then let it fall down on top of her. Then she hands it back to us and the game keeps going.
- Moving Collections: She will gather specific “like” items such as d-ring keychains, balloons, polished rocks, hair twisties, or her colored counting bears and put them all in one central location. So she may move all of the balloons over onto the couch, then she may move them over to a recliner, then into the guest bathroom. Sometimes I either initiate the collecting (ie this photo where I put some counting bears in her tea pot) or I help gather the items she’s missed, show her, then add them to her collection. It makes her so happy when we engage her by following her lead, her eyes always light up – “Hey! You’re like me!” – I love it.
- Let’s MOVE!: She craves both proprioceptive and vestibular input almost constantly. My new name at home is “Secretariat”… due to the ridiculous number of piggy-back rides I give on a daily basis (who needs the gym?!?). If she backs up to you and raises her arms, she wants to be spun around. If you’re on the ground and she tries to straddle your head, she wants a reverse horsey-back ride. I’m so glad we now know what the initiation for these activities looks like – in the old days she would just push us and scream – I love it that she’s getting older and learning new ways to communicate.
- Chasing Game: I give her the typical piggy-back ride, but if Daddy’s home he will growl at her and chase us around the living room – she wants him to catch up to us and tickle her. If we are BOTH home, nine times out of ten this is what she’s trying to get us to play with her.
- Nose!: I think Daddy started this with her in the mornings. She will come up to you and touch your nose, to which in turn we say “Nose!”, then “Mommy’s/Daddy’s Nose!” then we touch her nose and say “Lila’s Nose!”. This typically goes back and forth a few times, and it’s another interaction that always gets her to giggle.
- Dressing Us: She likes to bring us a hat, sunglasses, a purse, or an article of clothing she finds and she wants us to wear it. Then she smiles, looks pretty pleased with herself, and immediately wants a piggy-back ride.
I just wanted to write these down so I don’t forget. She’s constantly evolving these games, dropping some and adding new ones – can’t wait to see what she comes up with next!