Oren at Fifteen Months

oren next to roller coaster I don’t know what it is about this picture, but I can’t help but see Oren as a miniature John Glenn, posing next to Friendship 7.

Oren has something to say and good luck figuring out what it is. He’s learned a handful of signs over the past couple months, including ‘please,’ ‘more,’ ‘dog,’ ‘cat,’ ‘bird,’ and ‘all done.’ He also shakes his head back and forth, sometimes vigorously, rotating back and forth as far as a human neck can turn, in what you’d think his way of saying ‘no,’ but you’d be mistaken at least fifty percent of the time. Here’s a typical conversation:

(Oren and Alex are sitting at the breakfast table. I'm eating cold oatmeal, he's sitting in front of a bowl of Cheerios, not eating.)


(looks over at my oatmeal and makes the sign for 'please,' and then 'more')


Do you want some of my oatmeal?


(shakes head back and forth, vigorously)


Okay, no oatmeal.


(makes sign for 'bird,' then opens his mouth wide)


Alright, here you go.

(offers Oren a spoonful of oatmeal)


(shuts his mouth tight, then makes the signs for 'cat,' then 'book,' then 'please')


(stares blankly at Oren)


(stares blankly at Alex)


(offers spoon again)


(eats oatmeal as if it's the last food left on the planet, makes the sign for 'dog')

oren at the christmas tree farm Oren, Idara, and Gordy at a Christmas tree farm.

Oren has found other means of communication besides using his hands, shaking his head, and pinching his lips shut. When we talk about Rachael’s dad, who clicks his tongue at Oren when he first sees him in the morning, Oren will click his tongue in imitation of his grandfather.

When Oren sees or touches anything that’s hot he’ll purse his lips and blow through them, as if trying to cool it off. He now does this for cold things, too, and warm things, and cool things. At first we thought he was telling us that our soup or tea was hot, but really he’s telling us that it has temperature, it’s hotter or colder than he is. Kind of cool, when you think about it.

He doesn’t sign or say ‘kiss,’ if I say it to him he’ll usually turn his head toward me and open his mouth wide like a baby bird receiving a worm. I’m not sure how he came to the conclusion that the standard father-son kiss is open mouth, but it does make me wonder if there’s some relationship between kisses as a cultural custom and passing food (worms, perhaps) from parent to child.

oren rachael idara lunch Eating lunch.

Somehow I managed to skip Idara’s 15 month post, but at 18 months I wrote about why learning to walk was such a great thing for us and for Idara. Going to the park in the winter became much more fun, because instead of having to crawl through wet grass or dirt she could walk on top of it. And while we still moved everywhere at a snail’s pace, we didn’t have to carry her all the time, either.

Now, at 15 months, Oren is walking, but only just. If I stand him up a few feet from Rachael he’ll walk halfway toward her and then flop over, hoping that she’s ready to catch him.

oren walking Oren likes to get out of the backpack and walk.

Watching a child learn to walk reminds me just how risky an endeavor it is. Not only is Oren moving from four points of contact to two, he’s putting the most fragile part of his body at the top of his whole apparatus. Idara barely learned to crawl before she started walking, but Oren has been crawling since the pandemic started at the beginning of the year. He’s quite fast now, and so it’s easy to see why walking would seem like a downgrade. Slower and more risky? No thanks.

That’s not to say that risk is anything that Oren avoids. There’s not a surface in this house that Oren has not attempted to climb, and most of them he’s summited, including the breakfast table, the dining room table, the kitchen counter, the bathroom counter, and of course any box we have lying around as we pack for our move to Azerbaijan. It’s difficult to coerce Oren stand up on his own on level ground, but sometimes I’ll look over and find him standing atop one of these boxes, balancing like a flying Wallenda.

oren on rollercoast Oren, ready for liftoff.