Dante and I are taking evening walks nowadays, since the summer evenings here are so pleasant. (Not that Dante is walking yet — I walk while holding him.) He’s doing a lot of pointing, as usual, and consequently has learned about trees and cars and grass and so forth. He loves all the stuff he sees, but I believe the following items currently occupy the top five slots in the Fascination Countdown:
Number 5 — Trees: As soon as we step out the door, he’s pointing at a tree. He’s compelled and perplexed by the way some trees have leaves and other trees have needles. We walk over to whatever tree he’s just pointed at, and sometimes he likes to feel the leaves, or touch the pointy ends of the needles then quickly draw his hand back.
Number 4 — Shaking the chain: We live in a condo development that’s shaped kind of like a U. One end of the U intersects with the street, and the other is chained off. We live at the chain end of the U. This chain holds a “no parking” sign suspended between two posts. I let Dante reach down and grab the chain, then I lift him up and down a bit while he holds the chain. Watching the whole thing move as a result of this action totally enthralls him.
Number 3 — Passing cars: Every time a car passes by, his head whips around to follow it like he’s a spectator at a tennis match. He points, and I identify. “Grey car! White truck! Red truck! Bus! Another white truck! Another red truck! Green truck!” (People here do love their SUVs.)
Number 2 — Tall things: Streetlights are the prime example here, since they’re the tallest things sticking out of the ground. There are some tall trees as well, but mostly the streetlights are much higher. He points, and as we walk toward the light, he leans back in my arms and cranes his head way up so he can see the top. The higher up his gaze travels, the happier he gets. He looks up at the top for a while, sometimes says “Ah ah”, sometimes touches the light pole, and then we walk on. As soon as we approach the next streetlight, he starts pointing again.
Number 1 — Signs: Whenever he sees any kind of sign, his face lights up like he’s just seen Santa Claus. He opens his mouth wide and a HUGE joy takes over his expression. He thrusts his finger toward the sign and bounces a little. We walk up to the sign and I explain what’s on it. “This sign is red, and it’s an octagon, with eight sides. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. The letters are S. T. O. P. That spells STOP. This sign is telling people to stop here.” I doubt any of that really reaches him, but he sure does seem to love hearing it.