Wednesday, April 18, 2007

"Where's 100, Miss Baby? Point for Mama"

And there is joy again.

Miss Baby! Understands English! It's a revelation. I'm as shocked as if the cat had begun to tapdance.

I was nursing her (Miss Baby, that is--not the cat) and she, of course, was distracted by the ceiling fan. So I said, while rolling my eyes, as I do, "Yes, yes, Miss Baby, the ceiling fan, your only friend." She looked at me. She looked at the ceiling fan. Then she pointed at it, grunted and looked at me. I was surprised.

"Miss Baby," (said me,) "Where's the ceiling fan? Point for Mama."


Point. Grunt. Wiggle. Smile. She is pleased as punch that I have figured out that she knows what I am talking about. We walk excitedly through the house, testing her vocabulary. As it turns out, she is quite well versed in things we repeat a lot. Here are the things she can identify correctly by pointing, following a verbal prompt*:

* Doudou
* Ceiling fan
* Boobie
* Cat (she can actually say 'cat', and does)
* Duck (her rubber duckie for the bath)
* Picture / Flower (a recently hung print)
* Doorbell (the apparatus above the door frame)
* Banana
* Grapes
* Minigo
* Cracker

She's a lot smarter than we've been giving her credit for. Since the three of us have figured out this means of communication, it's been nothing but pointing, pointing, pointing over here. She points at everything and anything, and we name it for her. Then she wiggles and squeals.

Her other gestures begin to seem more communicative as well. There's a clear set of moves that means 'pick me up' and another that means 'I'm happy'. But I'm just gobsmacked that words--arbitrarily-assigned sounds standing in for objects--have become part of her world. Gestural communication is primal, I think: there's a universal posture of tiredness, of joy. But verbal language is an abstraction, a cultural convention that associates sounds with things. Miss Baby is joining ... culture? Is becoming human? It's just a wonder to behold.

She understands at least some of what I say to her, opening a whole new kind of interaction between us. And what timing: just when I'm mourning the end of our breastfeeding relationship, that particular physical intimacy. Here we are developing a new verbal intimacy.

Ain't life grand?

And: this is my 100th post. Wow! That kind of snuck up on me. Thanks to all of you who read for making it so interesting to write.

* unless the cat is in the room. Then the only thing getting pointed at is the cat.


NotSoSage said...

Mimi, that's wonderful! Go, Miss Baby!

This brought back not-too-distant memories.

bubandpie said...

That's so exciting. You'll be amazed at how rapidly it all develops from here.

Bon said...

we're in very similar places...i've just figured out that O knows a lot of the words i use (especially those related to food), even though he doesn't seem keen on signing them back to me or pointing or whatnot just yet...and i too just posted my 100th post.

and the cat is the centre of my child's universe as well.

quite a ride, all this stuff. congrats on post 100...i'm glad to have found you.

cinnamon gurl said...

It's so exciting and amazing how they pick up language! Congrats on both milestones - 100 posts and communication!!

Jenifer said...

It is true it seems to snowball from here...I promise you the days of, "I will get you ice cream if you just stop talking for 5 minutes" are not far off.


crazymumma said...

ohho ya I say with a laugh....they are waaayyyy smarter than we give them credit for.

Good for her, I can hear the pride in your words.

Oh, The Joys said...

Hurrah for these milestones!

slouching mom said...

Hey, I too just posted for the 100th time last week!

Congratulations on your 100th.

And it's just so cool when they start to comprehend, and soon thereafter, express language.

Of course, my kids have not stopped talking since they started. Not even to take a breath.

Mad Hatter said...

And then you will start to notice her ability to make leaps in logic to group things. She will know one duck from another and know that even though they are different, they are all DUCK. Oh, the stage you are entering is such a wonderfully mind-blowing stage. Enjoy every moment of it!

And happy 100.

Beck said...

Neat! And everything just proceeds rapidly from this point...

Omaha Mama said...

Congrats to you. Isn't it wonderful! As are all milestones, but there's something about language that just gets me. It's a BIG deal. I'm out of town at an autism conference today and tomorrow and it strikes me, your post, because of the stark difference of your post to many parents and others that I heard from today. Imagine all of the jubilation you are feeling, and then what it must be like to have your child lose that language at some point. How painful that would be. Certainly makes one grateful for their children's typical development and also makes me want to help people who can't use that language, who we've got to help say it another way. Language is such a fascinating topic.

I really liked this post a lot. Thanks for sharing!

nomotherearth said...

And almost as good as learning the first words, is when all of sudden she knows a whole bunch of new words at the same time. It's crazy! And fun.