I might have made a strategic error calling the kid ‘lil boss’, because at 20 months, he’s acting like one. He knows what he wants and he makes sure you know it. While he is experimenting with different ways of communicating his desires and aspirations to see what yields results fastest, he knows what the boundaries are and he stays just within them. As he has been fairly good at reaching key objectives, you can’t even contest with what he is asking for.
He has learnt to dictate his own bedtime and set it at a very reasonable 9 pm when we are at home. (Grandparents’ places are fair game.) He will tell everyone present “Night, night, bye-bye- bed bed, sleep”, wave, then run to his bed, grab his bolster and call out “Milk, milk!” He will hold his bottle, until just before he knows he’s able to go down for the count, and with a grunt, he will instruct the minion to take over the bottle-holding, so that he has the luxury of drinking that last bit of milk before sleeping.
He has also learnt to point at food items on the table and ask for servings. “Bak-bak” (meat) must be “big!”, and he wants the stems of the vegetables “bone!” “bean-bean!” Since he eats both meat and vegetables with enthusiasm, minions are hardpressed not to give him what he asked for, especially when he nods his head and sagely says “Danks!”, and occasionally, “Please!” He is chafing at having to be fed, and insists on having his own cutlery so that he can stuff his mouth because the minions are much too slow. He wants to “hold!” his own fruits and insists on finishing every last drop of the “nut!” (coconut) Demanding boss, but he balances that out by dropping his bowl off at the sink all by himself and telling the maid “Kaka! Danks!”
He knows his favourite story books. Climbing into his cosy corner, he will cry out both at night and the moment he wakes up, “Book! Read book!” There is nothing the minions can say to that but “What do you want to read?” Clam-clam for I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean, Hoo-hoo-ha-ha for Curious George’s Pat a Cake, Llama-llama for Llama Llama Hoppity Hop. Grab the wrong book and he goes “Dowan” – which is now his absolutely favourite phrase.
He dictates the order in which we visit the animals when we go to the zoo. First up, it’s always “Pang-Bear” and it will be a good twenty minutes of “Bear-bear, bear-bear” until we get to the darn panda bear exhibit. After which he would imitate the trumpeting elephant, which wonderfully is at the other end of the other zoo. This minion changed the itinerary some times, and in between each animal, he will remind me with a trumpeting elephant or an incessant “Bear-bear”. Not in a tantrum, because he knows that doesn’t get him anywhere. Nope, he will just ask you “Bear-bear, where?” until you would much rather give in.
He knows exactly when he wants his music, and no, he does not want you singing out of turn. He has fancy hand movements for Wheels on the Bus and Twinkle twinkle little star, and he will whine if you sing something else. He reaches for the remote and has learnt to pop in his CDs. He likes the violin but barely tolerates the piano.
He wants “big, big hug” in the mornings, and he demands to be “put down!” when he wants to “walk walk” or “run!” He has dismissed my sister to “Go! Room!” when she tries to play rough and clapped in encouragement when my father told him he couldn’t possibly read his English books. He can now open the shoe cabinet by himself, thank you very much, and he knows which pair he prefers (the Spidey one with lights). He tries valiantly to put on his own shoes and then grudgingly allow the minions to put them on for him. He refuses to carry any bag at all. He has all his minions well trained in putting out our hands instinctively when he says “Hold!” so that he can deposit whatever he has in our hands and reach for something else he wants. (Breaking out of this habit is difficult – I have yet to succeed.)
He is now nearly (only) 20 months old. I foresee interesting years ahead.