My Kid Is A Terrible Dresser

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When the Dumpling picked her own clothes.

Several days ago the Dumpling insisted on wearing this monstrosity of an outfit: a red San Francisco 49ers jersey paired with patterned green pants. She ran around the room with only her diaper on, dramatically screaming “No! Nooo! Nooooooo!” to every alternative except for what she picked out.

Before becoming a mom, I always wondered why parents would let their kids out of the house in cringe-worthy ensembles—jarring color combinations, socks with sandals, dresses over pants, epileptic inducing LED-lit apparels…just to name a few examples.

Like many things, I sing a different tune now that I have a small toddler with a big personality.

Whatever fashion aspirations I had for the Dumpling were short lived. At its height, I dreamed of her living up the kiddy fashion hashtags on Instagram where she would wear trendy miniature versions of adult clothes, or we would twin with mommy-and-me dresses. The reality, however, is that children’s apparel is expensive for the number of wears that she would get out of them. It also didn’t help that the Dumpling hates getting dressed, so my bare standard these days is just to get her to wear pants. At 22 months, my daughter already has strong stylistic preferences that she is vocal about. This often translates to her picking out clothes that have clashing combinations or are out of season (she wore Christmas pants all year round).

The Dumpling may refine her taste as she grows, but in the meantime I implemented a strategy to combat her fashion faux pas. I would have a few pre-selected backup pieces for her to choose from in case she rejects my initial offering. This would give her the opportunity to make decisions under a controlled setting. Sometimes she would go with my first choice with minimal resistance; often it’d be a compromise where I picked the top and she picked the bottom; on occasions she would reject both and put something together entirely on her own.

When I picked the outfit.
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When she dressed for both Christmas and Easter at the same time.

Looking back at her old pictures, I realized that the Dumpling rocked whatever she wore. Her big smile and personality outshone even the most mismatched outfits.

If she asks about her choice of clothing in the future, I will just say that she was an accidental hipster.

Encounter with Mean Kids at the Playground

The Dumpling’s social development has always been a priority for jigg and me. Ensuring that she has regular interaction with other children was one of the main reasons why we started her at daycare when she was only six months old. Her caregivers have done an amazing job in teaching our daughter the concepts of playing together, asking for permission, sharing, ownership, and boundaries. As a result, the Dumpling generally gets along with most kids and holds her own on play dates.

There have been incidents when one child would act out aggressively towards the other because kids will be kids. The adults, however, would step in to right the transgression. Everyone [eventually] got along because of the mutual understanding that respect and cordiality would be enforced.

Playing in public areas, like the playground, is a totally different game. Unlike play dates, the environment is unstructured, and I have limited control over whom the Dumpling will be interacting with.

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Grandma and the Dumpling having fun.
Last weekend, our family was in Boston where Grandma and I brought the Dumpling to the community playground. One family had set up a tiny inflatable pool in between sprinklers, but their kids have lost interest and were playing elsewhere. The Dumpling, of course, was naturally drawn to it. Every time she got close to their pool, however, the kids would quickly run back, shouted “Don’t touch my water!” and shooed my daughter away by aggressively kicking and splashing water.

The Dumpling would then run towards us for safety while the other kids returned to whatever they were playing with before. The kiddy pool was set up in the middle of the sprinklers, so there wasn’t an effective way to keep the Dumpling away. Within minutes, she would run back and the entire episode would start again. The kids continued splashing even after Grandma asked them to stop, and their guardians idly watched as everything unfolded.

I felt helpless and annoyed. These kids had every right not to share, and it was not my place to tell them otherwise…especially when their parents didn’t feel the need to. They were not bullies (otherwise my claws would have been out); they were just mean.

It was also difficult to explain to the Dumpling why she can’t play with their pool. While my daughter understood ownership, she was also taught that others would share if she politely asked. In return, she would do the same. Reciprocity formed the basis of the Dumpling’s understanding of social interactions. In an environment where everyone abided by the same rules, like at daycare or home, things worked out. “Playing nice”, however, is open to interpretations at the playground.

Luckily the Dumpling has not yet developed the self awareness to realize that the other kids didn’t want her around. Although there was no physical and emotional harm inflicted, it was difficult for me to watch other kids being mean to my own child. A small part of me (actually a huge part) wanted to run into the nearest store, buy the biggest and best inflatable pool money can get, set it up right next to theirs, and bar these brats from going anywhere near it.

I eventually calmed down and brought the Dumpling home. As much as I wanted to be vindicative, it wasn’t an example I wanted to set for my daughter. As recourse, Grandma set up a little bucket of water in the tub where the Dumpling had just as much fun as she did at the playground.

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The Dumpling’s personal pool.

The Dumpling Is Like the Cat I Never Had

Coming home from work is my favorite part of the day. It has been 12 hours since I last saw the Dumpling, so surely she would have missed me as I have missed her. The poor girl had probably spent her whole day waiting for mommy to shower her with hugs and kisses.

At least that was what I thought as I walked through the front door.

“Sweetie, Mommy is home!” Expecting the scene that I just envisioned to play out, I held open my arms and waited.

The Dumpling glanced at me and then continued watching The Secret Life of Pets for the umpteenth time.

“Sweetheart?” I called again.

My daughter didn’t even turn her head this time.

“Can you give mommy a hug?” I waited with my arms still wide open. I eventually gave up and went over to hug and kiss her instead.

Weekday evenings can be rough. It’s always a mad dash to leave work at 5:30 pm just to spend the next 1.5 hours sitting through New York City rush hour traffic. When I get home around 7:00 pm, it’s time to start my second job as the Dumpling’s mommy.

On this particular night, it was 7:30 pm by the time the Dumpling was fed and cleaned, but I needed to keep her occupied for another few minutes to vaccuum the trail of crumbs she left all over the house and pack her food for daycare tomorrow.

“Do you want to watch Masha and the Bear?” I asked her as I turned on Netflix. The Dumpling nodded and climbed on the couch. That would be approximately 10 minutes of uninterrupted free time I just bought myself, so I hurried back into the kitchen. After I was done, I peeped into the living room to check on the Dumpling. Finding that she was still content with watching TV, I rummaged through the fridge for some leftovers and popped the plate in the microwave. I finally had some time to myself!

I was maybe four bites in when the Dumpling scurried over.

“Ma-nye, poe poe!” She said with arms wide open and the saddest look on her face.

“Aw, sweetie! You finally want mommy to hold you?” I forgave all previous transgressions and scooped her up.

“Sit.” The Dumpling instructed while pointing to the living room couch. I carried her over and she snuggled up in between my arms as we watched TV together. When she made a silly face in imitation of the main character, we both giggled hysterically.

My daughter is like a cat that I never had: she demands my attention when it suits her but pretends that I don’t exist when it doesn’t. At that moment, all she wanted was her mommy, so I held her even tighter because moments like this were worth everything that I worked so hard for.

The Dumpling then perked up when she heard the front door opened.

“Daddy! Daddy!” She said with the biggest smile on her face and ran over with arms wide open…just like the scene I had envisioned for myself earlier.

For the rest of the night, I was relegated to nonexistent.

Why We Let the Dumpling Watch A Lot of TV

The television is almost always on when we are home with the Dumpling. Recently The Secret Life of Pets seems to have taken top spot as her favorite movie and has been playing on constant repeat. When the scene of Leonard the poodle came on, she dropped whatever she was doing and waited for the music to transition from Vivaldi to System of the Down. The Dumpling would then imitate Leonard’s headbanging by jumping up and down to the heavy metal.

We have probably watched this movie about 30 times in the past month. As high as that total sounds, it is actually a distant third compared to Kung Fu Panda I and III, which she watched at least 150+ times each.

To get those stats, jigg and I let the Dumpling watch about two hours every weekday and essentially as much as she wants on weekends if we’re not out. This comes out to an average of 3.5 hours per day, which exceeds the amount that experts recommend for the Dumpling’s age group. Apparently the American Academy of Pediatrics discourages media use for children younger than 18 to 24 months. The organization’s guideline used to be no screen time at all for children under 2 years old, but have recently lowered the age to 18 months. Their current recommendation is one hour per day for children between 2 to 5 years old.

Despite warnings from researchers about the dangers of too much screen time, neither jigg nor I think our daughter’s current TV intake is bad. On the surface, it’s easy to judge parents like us who use electronic media as an easy way to get 15-20 minute blocks of uninterrupted free time. I’m also not going to deny that to a certain extent, I sometimes encourage the Dumpling to watch TV just so I can drink my morning coffee in peace. The reality, however, is that most of those logged hours are accumulated together with the Dumpling.

To be clear, watching television in our household means playing Netflix on our living room TV. The Dumpling has no concept of channels, scheduled show times, commercials, or anything associated with traditional television that jigg and I grew up with. She has her own Netflix profile with access to curated shows and movies like the Kung Fu Panda movies, The Secret Life of Pets, Zootopia, Thunder and the Magic House, Finding Dory, Masha and the Bear, The Mother Goose Club, and Minions. Missing from the repertoire are the “quality” programs that educators typically recommend, like Sesame Street or Daniel Tiger. We tried, but the Dumpling took no interest in those shows.

Instead of turning into an antisocial screen junkie, however, our daughter is actually learning. When we watch television together, it’s not a passive activity. jigg and I are constantly interacting with the Dumpling: we describe the visuals on screen, name the characters, ask her to point out objects and animals, discuss the plot, recite lines, sing along, dance, and act out scenes.  We watch whatever she watches, whenever she watches.

In other words, we use digital content as a tool to complement, not substitute, our roles as the Dumping’s primary educators. More emphasis is placed on our interactions than the quality of the content, assuming that it is still age appropriate. jigg and I also draw a hard line between the medium in which the Dumpling consumes content. While she has free range access to our TV, iPhones are typically off limits. That is because the former can function both as a shared and personal device, while the latter is designed specifically for individual use.

In an ideal world, I would love to do more sensory and developmental activities and watch less television with the Dumpling. The reality, however, is that jigg and I both work full time, and our daughter spends 10 hours a day at daycare. When we are not doing chores on the weekends, we are bringing the Dumpling on play dates, going on road trips, brunching, and visiting zoos, parks, and museums. In today’s modern [and very involved] form of parenting, I think that the Dumpling is getting sufficient intellectual stimulation and social interactions.

“HA. HA. HA.” The Dumpling laughed menacingly in imitation of Snowball, a deceivingly cute bunny who is the gang leader of The Flushed Pets. She pointed at the TV to make sure that I was still watching the movie with her.

“That’s an alligator. Those are frogs. There’s also a pig!” I named each of Snowball’s animal henchmen aloud.

When the Sacred Viper was about to appear, she pointed excitedly at the screen and said “seh seh,” the Chinese word for snake.

“What does a snake say?” I asked her.

“Ssssssssss,” she hissed at the same time as the Sacred Viper.

As the main character was about to be bitten, multiple giant blocks of concrete fell and crushed the viper to deat.

“Moe-ah,” the Dumpling giggled in psychopathic delight. The word means “no more” in Chinese, and it was the Dumpling’s tribute to the serpent’s violent and untimely end.

In the greater scheme of things, I don’t know if 3.5 hours of daily TV time would doom her to childhood obesity, violence, speech delays, behavioral problems, loss of social skills, and the slew of other impediments that experts warn about. I do know that I’m bonding and cuddling with my daughter and making the best out of the time we’re spending together.

“Ma-Nye!”

“Ma-Nye! Ma-Nye!”

That’s what the Dumpling calls me no matter how many times we correct her, “It’s mommy. Mom-ME.”

The obvious reason for her mispronunciation is that she’s only 20 months old. A small part of me, however, thinks that my daughter is being deliberate. “Ma-nye” is her own made-up word, a combination of “mamma” and “nye nye”, the Chinese word for milk. The Dumpling has always seen me as the food source, and she has heard both words frequently and in close proximity with each other since she was born.

My theory led me to wonder how being raised in a bilingual household has affected the Dumpling’s language development. Currently jigg and the grandparents speak exclusively to her in Chinese, while I and her daycare caregivers focus on English. Our thought process is that she would associate one set of language with certain people and communicate accordingly. That didn’t exactly play out as hoped, however, as daycare used to comment that they couldn’t understand her when she spoke Chinese.

I wanted to gain a better understanding of the Dumpling’s communication skills, so I enlisted jigg’s help to gather data. Our goal was to track everything our daughter said over a weekend and make note of any interesting observations. As a preliminary exercise, I wrote down all the word that she knows, so that we could simply tally it off the list. My criteria for a word is something she can verbally say, even if it’s mispronounced, as long as she understands its meaning. For example, if she said “yeyow” and pointed to an object that is indeed yellow.


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Result of our experiment in a word cloud.  It appears that I’m competing with cats (“mao mao”), bears, and daddy for her affection.
The Dumpling has a vocabulary of around 80 words with almost a 50/50 split between English and Chinese. She used 74 unique words throughout the weekend and averaged about 262 words per day. I also noticed that she can say something only in one language, not both. My guess is that her preference is for whichever is easier to pronounce. For example, the Dumpling cannot say “flower” in English, but she can say “fa” in Chinese probably because it’s one syllable versus two. If this were true, learning two languages has actually helped expand rather than limit her vocabulary.

The Dumpling repeats herself until she gives up on (or I give into) what she wants. The Dumpling loves watching animal shows (a few of her favorites are Secret Life of Pets, Thunder and the Magic House, Kung Fu Panda, Zootopia, and Masha and the Bear), so it’s not surprising that she frequently said “bear,” “woe woe” and “mao mao” (Chinese for dog and cat) to get us to turn on Netflix.

The Dumpling’s speech is often reinforced with body language. She probably relies heavily on nonverbal cues out of necessity to work around the language barrier between her and her various caregivers. The Dumpling consistently pointed to things, shook or nodded her head, or led us to what she wanted. If she wanted to go out, for example, she would bring us her shoes, stand by the door, and say “guy guy” (Chinese for street). If she wanted a cookie, she would say “ban ban” (Chinese for cookie), lead me to the kitchen, point to the cabinet where they’re stored, point to her mouth and then her stomach.

The Dumpling is a chatter box at home and a mime outside. My only guess is that she’s more shy around strangers.

The Dumpling understands more than she can verbally express…whether she chooses to listen is another story. I often wonder how much the Dumpling gets away with ignoring me under the pretense of not understanding. I caught her last weekend when I repeatedly asked her to sit with her 11 month old cousin for a picture, but she just continued running around as if I were talking to a wall. I then took out her animal crackers and told her she could have one if she sat down. Magically, she understood everything I said.


My takeaway from this exercise is that cookies and crackers work wonders for her language development…and it gave me an idea!

“I’ll give you a “ban ban” if you say “mommy.”” I held a cookie in my hand as proposition. 

“Um! Um!” The Dumpling opened her mouth and pointed to the cookie. “Um um” is the sound she makes when she wants to eat. 

“Say “mommy” and I’ll give you the cookie.” I realized that I’m not beneath bribery at this point.

“Ban ban! Ban ban! Ban ban!” The Dumpling didn’t even bother waiting for my reaction. She ate the cookie off my hand and ran off.

A Seizure and a Trip to the ER

About a month ago, the Dumpling had a seizure and was rushed to the emergency room. I knew nothing about seizures prior to the incident, so it was hard for jigg and me to helplessly watch our child go through this. We learned from the doctors that seizures are actually not uncommon in young children, so sharing our experience could be informative for other parents who may have to go through something similar (although I hope not!).

The seizure happened on a Sunday morning when the Dumpling slipped while circling around the living room coffee table. It was hard to imagine that a tiny fall could have affected the next 24 hours so drastically. The Dumpling looked ready to seize the day when she woke up that morning. She actually had a high fever the day before from a viral infection but our pediatrician cleared her to resume normal activity as long as we kept her fever in check.

I thought it was odd she didn’t get up or make a sound.

“Oh my God, Look at her face!” I screamed as I bent down to check on her. The Dumpling was twitching uncontrollably with eyes rolled behind her head. jigg immediately ran over and laid the Dumpling on her play mat.

“Mui Mui!” He called her by her nickname. The Dumpling remained unresponsive. “She’s having a seizure!”

I dialed 911 and was connected to someone who gave me instructions on what to do while the paramedics were on their way.  I repeated them aloud so jigg could hear as well.

  • Bring her to a clear area
  • Take off her clothes
  • Loosen her diaper
  • Lay her to her side
  • Don’t put anything in her mouth
  • Open the front door and wait for the ambulance

The whole call lasted about three minutes. During that time, Dumpling had a spit up and soiled her diaper. By the time I hung up, the seizure was over as she was beginning to whimper, but still unable to get up. It seemed half of her body was paralyzed.

jigg and I quickly took turns changing and grabbed the Dumpling’s diaper bag, which was already pre-packed with essentials and extra sets of clothes, before the paramedics arrived. They seemed hopeful that we would be back from the hospital within a few hours.

jigg wrapped the Dumpling in a towel and carried her into the ambulance.  The Dumpling has already regained full consciousness and was crying inconsolably during the five minute drive. Her tantrum would continue on and off for the next three hours in the ER and her behavior was unlike anything I have ever seen – she backed herself into the corner of the room like a scared animal and swatted everything and everyone away.

jigg and I must have recounted what happened to 10+ doctors and nurses, who asked very specific questions.

Did she have a fever? How long did the seizure last? Was her entire body twitching or just the head? What were her arms doing? Right side? Left side? Was she on medication? Any delivery complications? Any family history?

In hindsight, we should have recorded the episode.

The neurologist wanted to keep the Dumpling overnight and monitor her brain for the next 24 hours via  electroencephalogram (EEG). To get her set up for the test, we spent another excruciating 30 minutes with the technician gluing wires onto the Dumpling’s head while she clawed, kicked and screamed. Her head was hooked to 20+ wires that were attached to a small machine box connected to a 30 feet cord inside the hospital room. A live camera would monitor the Dumpling’s every move for the next 24 hours.

The Dumpling reminded me of Professor Xavier with Cerebro.

By evening the Dumpling was slowly returning back to her usual self. She was getting more agitated from being confined than the aftermath of the seizure at this point. All jigg and I could do was follow her around in circles to make sure she didn’t trip on the cord or pull out the wires.

By morning we found several wires ripped off despite our best efforts and were terrified that we might have to stay another night. jigg and I both gave a sigh of relief when the scans came back normal and the neurologist released her. But there seemed to be more uncertainty than answers, the most important one being that the doctors still didn’t know what caused the seizure. The hospital initially admitted the Dumpling for a febrile seizure, which is a seizure caused by high fever. That was ruled out since the Dumpling was not running a fever before, during, or after the event. (jigg was 100% sure on the “before” period since he took the Dumpling’s temperature 20 minutes before the incident.) The diagnosis was then changed to a partial seizure, which is a seizure caused by partial brain abnormality.

The neurologist, jigg and I agreed that the best approach was to “wait and see” before putting our daughter on medications or further testing since this was the first incident. The most we could do is now is monitor her and educate her caregivers on what to do in case it happens again.  The steps would be the same instructions that the 911 responder provided us over the phone. The biggest danger to the Dumpling (or anyone having a seizure) would typically be falling and hitting a hard object, so we’d just have to keep her safe until the episode passes.

We also learned the seizures are not a disease but rather a symptom of another underlying cause (like a fever is a symptom of an infection). The doctors informed us that seizures are not painful and generally non life-threatening, so we would only need to bring the Dumpling into the emergency room if a future episode lasted for more than five minutes.

The Dumpling luckily hasn’t had another incident since, and we’re hoping she stays that way!

The Dumpling’s First Public Meltdown

I used to judge other parents so hard when their kids threw tantrums in public. Especially if they did nothing and just let their kids be. In my mind, these parents were neglectful towards disciplining their children and inconsiderate of others around them. I would glare and hope that they could somehow telepathically hear my mental disapproval.

Why do I, an innocent bystander, have to listen to your child’s screams?! Don’t just sit there! Do something…anything to calm your little brat down!

As with many things, my perspective changed after becoming a mom. The Dumpling is now constantly testing her boundaries and has thrown her fair share of tantrums at home. It was only a matter of time before she had one in public.

It happened during out trip to Poconos on July 4th weekend. I was taking a walk by a lake with another mommy friend when the Dumpling woke up prematurely from her nap. She was inconsolable, crying with tears, sweat, and snot all over her face.

I tried my usual strategies of holding her, asking what’s wrong, and diverting her attention to something else.

“Look at the pretty color on this bottle!” I placed her sunblock bottle in the sun, which changes color when exposed to UV light.

“NO!” she screamed while flailing her arms and kicking her feet.

“Do you want to watch Elmo?” I took out my phone, which usually calms her in tough situations.

“NO! WAH! WAH! WAH!”

“Let’s go play in the water!” I pointed to the lake where other kids were playing in.

“NO! NO! NO! WAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!”

Nothing worked and people began to look. If this episode had occurred at home, I would have walked away at this point and just let her cry it out. Being out in public, I felt peessured to do something…anything to stop this meltdown. I attempted to escape the scene but the Dumpling fought me tooth and nail when I tried strapping her back into the stroller. I was stuck with a howling child that I cannot calm. The more I tried to soothe her, the louder she wailed and swatted me away; it was as if my attention fed into her tantrum.

A woman walked by and commented “Aww, poor girl!” She was more sympathetic than critical. Her comment reminded me that there was an audience, but I realized that I didn’t care what strangers thought anymore.

I stood by my daughter, patted her back, and told her that it’s okay to let it all out. After several more minutes, I turned my attention from her completely and asked my friend to do the same. I started playing with my phone and pretended to walk towards something interesting. The Dumpling’s cry slowly turned into a sniffle, and she eventually reached out her arms. I picked her up and hugged her in relief. We survived her first public meltdown!

Looking back, I now understand why the parents I used to judge did what they did (or rather what they did not do). Sometimes ignoring a tantrum is the best way to deal with it. I get anxious when I’m being watched, so it’s possible that the Dumpling felt the same. I should have just “walked away” like I normally would have done at home after several failed attempts to calm and distract her. My approach shouldn’t have changed because people were watching.

When I told this story to a fellow mommy co-worker, she shared an interesting strategy of how she deals with her son’s outbursts. Whenever he acts up, she and her husband would immediately turn to whomever was affected. For example, if her son hit her, her husband would ask, “Mommy, are you okay? Did that hurt?” This method shifts the focus away from her son and towards how his actions affected others. Eventually he would feel guilty, stop crying, and give his mom a hug.

I have also come to accept that depending on the situation, it’s okay to let the Dumpling cry as long as she’s not endangering herself or others. Crying is normal for a toddler, and it may be only way she knows how to express certain feelings at this age. There are days when I let myself cry to feel better, so I should let my daughter do the same. If there was one thing I learned from watching Inside Out, it’s that repressing “bad” emotions is unhealthy. As the Dumpling matures, we can work on better ways to express them, but censoring would not be the right approach for us.

It’s only a matter of time before the Dumpling’s next meltdown, and strangers will judge me just like I have judged others in the past. If you ever see me ignoring my hysterical daughter in public, please know that this is me trying my best.

The Doodle Wars

The magna doodle started out as a relatively benign toy in our household. Its purpose was to introduce the Dumpling to drawing without giving me the anxiety of having to scrub crayons off the walls. Although the most I could get out of her were a bunch of scribbles, I would also take turns doodling to keep her engaged. I turned my sketches into a game where I would ask her to name or pick out the correct animal, object, or letter on the board. The ever changing artwork and the interaction kept her interested and bringing me the magna doodle has become part of her daily play.

Everything changed one day when jigg sketched a “rabbit”. I commented that it looked nothing like what it’s supposed to be and drew my version next to his. He obviously disagreed, so we turned to the Dumpling for the tie breaker. I showed her the board and asked her to find the rabbit. Without hesitation, she pointed to mine.

jigg cried foul and claimed that I had more practice. There was only one thing left to do whenever we have a trivial disagreement – we took our case to Facebook. I posted the below picture and asked our friends to decide: who drew the better bunny? The consensus was that jigg’s looked like a rat.

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Winner: Mrs. jigg (left)

Then came the rematch and then another. What started out as an educational exercise for the Dumpling somehow morphed into an ongoing doodle war between jigg and me. The rules are simple: jigg and I each have half the board to draw the same animal that we take turns selecting (the Dumpling currently can correctly identify 30+ animals, so we have a sizable pool to pick from). We then present our work and ask her to point out the animal. Whichever one she selects first is the winner.

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Winner: jigg (right)
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Winner: jigg (right)
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Winner: jigg (right)

As the Dumpling assessed our work, it was interesting for jigg and me to analyze her thought process. At 20 months, she is able to pick up certain physical traits unique to specific animals even if they’re poorly drawn: cats have pointy ears and whiskers; crabs have claws; fish have fins; etc. Although her speech is still limited (we were told that speech development for children growing up in bilingual households take a bit longer), she displays her understanding by identifying an animal in one of three ways depending on what is easier for her to vocalize – by its English or Chinese name, or the sound the animal makes. It’s assuring to know that she can connect the same thing in multiple forms.  For example, she understands that “moo”, “cow,” and “ngau” (Chinese for cow) are associated with cow, but she can only say “moo” and “ngau”.

The Dumpling also turned out to be a fair and honest judge in our doodle wars. Sometimes she would just stare and stare and wouldn’t be able to find the animal she was supposed to be looking for. In that case, it means that jigg and my drawings both suck.

To be honest, my art skills are probably slightly better than average at best. Even though jigg is currently ahead in the doodle wars, it makes me happy when my daughter picks mine. That means she [sometimes] “gets me”.