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*:
* Ceiling fan
* 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)
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.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
And there is joy again.