Imoto is showing signs of Second Child Syndrome. Now that she can crawl, cruise, and even take a step or four on her own, nothing that onechan has touched in the past five minutes is safe from her. The tsuma and I were able to use the Distraction Technique and the "Fair" Trading Technique on her older sister well into toddlerhood, but imoto falls for nothing. If she wants to go somewhere, get something, or do something and you get in her way, be ready for some serious baby frustration and anger. Because we give her much more space to play on her own than we did onechan, she's used to doing what she wants when she wants, so is less patient with interruptions or other agendas. Or maybe it's a combination of teething and growth spurt. In any case, she's much more purposeful and determined than onechan was at her age--it even shows up at mealtime. Onechan loved to be spoon-fed all kinds of baby foods from 6 months up; imoto can't stand baby food and thinks spoons are teething and gravity check devices. Although she was later to "solid" foods than her big sister, she insisted on feeding herself almost from the start. This has lead to two major near-choking incidents, because she has a habit of stuffing her face (as if she's afraid onechan will take her food or something). Because we never had to deal with any of this from onechan--by contrast, she scared us to death with three falls off the high bed in her first year and a half (zero total bruises)--it's definitely the scariest part of taking care of imoto.
Onechan is a handful in a different way, due in part to the influence of the older kids (and they're all older than her) at the yochien and in part to her ongoing adjustments to and imitations of her younger sister. If you say something interesting and then tell her she shouldn't say it, she's guaranteed to say it. I just made the mistake twice in the same evening, putting nonsense syllables we were going back and forth with into the word baka, which is quite the put-down among the under-6 crowd (stupidhead/fool/idiot don't quite capture its edge), and then referring to myself as a loser because of my various klutzinesses throughout the day. Yup, she's discovered new ways of enjoying the perverse satisfaction of defiance--not just through the usual "I'm a baby! I'm sleepy! I'm hungry! My feet hurt! I can't walk! Daddy, wait for me!" that she still performs at the top of her lungs on sidewalks all over Fukuoka when she wants me to carry her--but now through playing with edgy words. For a minute there, it felt like the Latin class from hell this evening as I was washing dishes: "Daddy's a loser! I'm a loser! You're a loser!"
Fortunately, both girls have great senses of humor, so it's pretty easy still to joke or silly them out of bad moods. Blowing razzberries on everyone near me before bathtime did the trick for imoto. Onechan pulled herself out of a fit induced by my refusal to carry her to the bathroom to brush her teeth by accidentally gargling in the middle of a toothbrush-in-mouth soliloquy about her trials and tribulations, which lead to her gargling and giggling her way through to its end.
On the Pretty Cure parody front, onechan and I came up with sidekicks for the team: Gohan Girl and the Gohan Kid. Think the Wonder Twins or (this will date me) Wendy and Marvin from The Superfriends meet even-more-kawaii versions of young Gohan from the Dragonball franchise. The inspiration is the fun fact that just as onechan has started to become a neater eater, imoto has picked up the slack by getting rice all over her body and the floor most every meal. Yup, Uh-Oh Diva Girl is passing the mantle of Gohan Girl down to her younger sister, who is too young yet to scoff at hand-me-downs. So, thanks to the power of young kids' messy eating, the Pretty Cure Parody Team will be backed up by pre-schooler powerhouses. [Update 3/24/07: Got another one--Cure Nande ("the power of a young girl's questions" [nande=why?])]
Yeesh, one half-day at the office and I start gushing about the musume futari. More ammo for the anti-children contingent among the Mostly Harmless crew, I'm afraid. Can you tell I don't want to get back to work? (In my defense, this really is vacation time for professors in Japan--the new semester doesn't start for a couple of weeks yet, and the work left over from the fall semester is usually done by mid-March.)