Being the expert that I am at language development (a.k.a. there was a chapter on it my developmental psychology textbook), I know that you are currently in the “babbling stage.” Babbling starts around four months old, but once word comprehension kicks in (around nine months), the desire to converse with others gets really strong. Toddlers want to talk to other people and they want to be understood, which is partly how and why language develops at all. Well you have been talking for ages and you are definitely ready to be understood.
Quite honestly, I don’t understand half of what you say (sorry, I’m working on it!), but even so I love listening to you. Every now and then I catch a real word or something that sounds something like a real word and I’ll try to find the meaning in the things you say, but you don’t seem to be too concerned with whether or not I “get it.” If it’s really important to you that I understand, you gesture or motion for it – you’ll point at something you want or you’ll run to the door when you want to go outside or you’ll hold your arms up and you want me to pick you up.
One of my favorite gestures that you do is actually one you do when you’re upset. I know that sounds horrible and I truly do hate it when you’re upset, but you do this thing where when you’re just frustrated or mad, you’ll hit yourself in the forehead with your hand. Sometimes, you’ll throw your head back and cover your face with both of your hands, like you’re just so fed up. Nothing like a little flair for the dramatic, right?
Although you do gesture a lot when trying to get your point across, there are a couple of words I never have to guess on. “Doggy” is one. “Up” is another. You’ve also got names down pretty well. “Mama” and “Daddy” are always clear. You even say C’s name with pretty good clarity, which I learned this weekend and was highly impressed by. You are good with nicknames too – Nay-Nay for me, Bubby for Sports Man, Pop-Pop for my dad…the list goes on. That’s not the only way in which you are impressive: My psychology book actually says that toddlers don’t start putting together two-word sentences until they’re two, but I have heard from J that you have been putting sentences together for ages now. Not that that’s surprising – you are incredibly smart after all. Not that I’m biased.
My favorite thing about your little language? Your translators. J and E understand you like no one else. Every time you’d just talk and I would be smiling and listening and not at all comprehending, J would turn to us and say, “Oh, he wants to go outside,” or “He wants to play with the video camera.” It must be an acquired skill (one that I’m working on, I promise) to understand the Little Man Language. Eventually, when you would be adorable and just babbling on and on, I would turn to J and she would tell me that you were talking about your cousin or I’d shrug my shoulders at E and he would silently get up and get you your bouncy ball because he understood that’s what you had asked for. It’s a talent. You should probably take them everywhere, just for purposes of clarity.
I started getting pretty good at it by the end of your trip this past weekend. I’m better at understanding your body language, but I’m picking up on the words. J helps me cheat – every now and then she’ll send me a text or E will send me a video of a new word you’ve learned and how you say it. That’s how I learned that “at-too” was “tractor” and “pickoo” was “pickle.” Either way, I still love listening to you. One day, you’ll have a little boy voice and then a man voice and I’ll reminisce on the days when your babbly baby voice would just go on and on and on. I promise to listen to you forever, no matter what you have to say or how you say it. I’ve loved listening to you since your very first word (which I think was “da-da”). That will never change.
But I’m glad to see that you’ve gotten something from me other than your eyes. I have the uncanny ability to talk and talk and talk, sometimes without realizing that no one understands me either :)