Thursday, June 2, 2011

Speaking and Speechless

A few months ago, I noticed that Jack was beginning to understand the meaning of words. It all started with our nighttime nursing sessions. To nurse evenly at night, I need to switch him from one side to another after a few minutes. And any attempt to remove Jack from a boob generally results in a frantic "nononononono I'm not done" mad grab.

Jack was always confused about the whole switching sides thing, so I started saying "switch" every time I changed his latch. I had no idea whether it was working or not, until one day I was giving him milk from a bottle. I said "switch" and Jack let go of the bottle and looked up at me expectedly.

It was pretty exciting. I tried "switch" in different contexts and found that it always meant the same thing to him: let go.

A few weeks ago, Jack did something else that was exciting. If we said, "Where's my nose?", Jack could point to our noses.

Two weeks ago, I noticed that Jack was making the "milk" sign with his hand while he nursed.

And last week, Jack started saying "Uh-Oh". Uh-Oh. Uh-Oh. Uh-Oh.

Uh. Oh.

Jack goes on letter-benders commonly. For a while he was all about the vowels. It was "aaaaaa eeeeeee uuuuuu aeeeooooo iiii". Then the consonants started. "bababababa dadadada mamamama dudududu". In the past month, everything has been a duck or a dog or a door. "Dugh! Doh! Doowr!".

But Uh-Oh is different. It takes a lot of concentration to say Uh-Oh. Sometimes the Uh comes out first, and sometimes the Oh. Sometimes it happens quickly, and sometimes slowly. Sometimes there's a bunch of Uh Uh Uh before he gets to the Oh. If we say it to him, he'll repeat it back. Sometimes he says it when things drop.

Uh-Oh. Uh-Oh. Uh-Oh.

Last night we were changing Jack's diaper (yes, this was a two person job). Greg was joking with him, saying "sticky poopy!"*, and I noticed that Jack was actually repeating the St's back to us. (He's pretty good at S's -- he hisses like a snake -- but this time, he actually added the T in there, too. "Sssst-uh!"). So then we told him "Wipe!", and he started with his W's. And then we said "Diaper!", and he was all about the D's.

*Sorry. Vital part of the story.

I did not imagine this. Greg was there. We were both shocked, certain it was a coincidence. But he kept doing it. And when I say he started with the W's, I don't mean "Wuh duh buh baba wooo"... I mean, "Wuh! Wuh! Wuh! Wuh! Wuh! Wuh!". Times 10. And he did not stop "Wuh!"ing until we started saying Diaper and he started "Duh!"ing.

This morning, he repeated the repeating trick for me. And then he crawled over to me, pulled up on my leg, stared right at my eyes, and went "Ma. Mama. Ma ma ma ma. Mamamamama." And then Greg came into view, and Jack switched tactics: "Duh. Duh duh duh!". He dropped his breakfast over the side of his high chair, and it was all "uh oh uh oh uh oh".

So, Jack is talking, and his vocabulary consists of "Uh-Oh", "Mama", and "Dada". Now we can hear it: he is trying very, very hard to match many of our other words with sounds of his own. I suppose he's been working up to this for a while, but to us, it seems rather sudden. Suddenly I notice how he switches letters to the ones that we are using. Suddenly I hear the cadence in his babble, the expression of intent. Suddenly I can hear what it is he is trying to say.

Jack. Talking. I'm speechless*.

*Apparently not wordless, judging by this post.

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