I. Last week, my mother became the first guest in our new home. We gave her the grand tour, which included going up and down the stairs. This staircase has a small landing at the bottom, just one step up from the rest of the room, and as we came down the stairs Gran Ann commented on how well Roman was able to navigate them. When he took the last step, from the landing down to the main level, unassisted, she even clapped. Roman and Elena always love to get extra attention from grandparents, but when I observed what happened next that I realized that Roman had gone from that to being a junior scientist, attempting to recreate the work of Pavlov. He climbed back up on the landing, then stepped down, looked right at Gran and started clapping, prompting her to do the same.

More than once this past week, when I was sitting by the stairs, he would repeat the trick, clapping for himself as a way to encourage me to clap for him. Grandma stopped by again yesterday, and it was the first thing that he did. I may have taken the idea one step too far. Roman’s not necessarily the best eater, but at lunch today he was really going to town on a grilled cheese sandwich. I clapped for him after one particularly good bite, and after that he wanted me to applaud every bite. I hope he forgets about that before dinner.

II. Elena got CandyLand for Christmas last year. We tried to play it with her once, but she wasn’t quite ready to understand it, and soon after we put it in storage with most of the rest of our belongings. The board game box was one of the first ones unpacked, and after Elena saw her game, she wanted to give it another try right away. We finally found a time to play, just the two of us, when Roman was asleep and Jenny was out shopping. I remember CandyLand as an introduction to disappointment and constant suspicion of cheating–it seemed like I always drew the gumdrop or candy cane just as I was closing in on the finish line. Elena, playing the game for the first time, had a fresh perspective: she wanted to visit all the different characters, no matter what the order or effect on her chances of winning the game. She won, finishing quickly thanks to drawing Queen Frostine early on, but I told her that next time she might get to visit the other characters. Later, she spent some solo time with the CandyLand board, but she was telling herself stories about it more than she was playing a solitaire version.

III. Elena likes putting dishes away, and for Roman the dishwasher is a novelty. Still, this didn’t require any additional prompting:

And yes, the dishes were actually clean!


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