Friday, April 16, 2010
Lucy just turned 15 months old and she is starting to talk. Lush, jammy consonants spoken with heartaching deliberation. She's been saying 'dat!' for months, Dada, and Anne, uttered with the flattest Cockney 'a' of all time. My little Eliza Doolittle. That is the basic baby repertoire, one-consonant descriptors for the people in her life. As is customary, Dada was uttered months before Mama. It's easier to say. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Now she asks for Mama! and it is rewarding on a cellular level.
Recently she has started branching out. Her first distinct word was 'boon' for balloon, repeated over and over at the supermarket as they danced above her head at the checkout. Then she added 'fssssshhhhhh', a sound like a slow puncture, to describe the fish tank at the dentists. And so it begins. So begins that period of time when you swear they have a repertoire of 30 words but to the untrained ear they all sound like 'duck'. With Anna we wrote them all down on the calendar on the day each new word arrived. I remember November being the 'explosion' month, at least a couple of new words a day. That would have made her a couple of months older than Lucy is now so Lucy is right on track.
Even before she could talk we had taught her to communicate. Sign language worked brilliantly with Anna so at about 4 months we started with Lucy. Just a few basic commands to make life easier. Every time we gave her a bottle we opened and closed our fists to indicate 'milk', before we gave her additional spoonfuls of yogurt we did the sign for 'more', then there is a sign for 'tired' and of course the ever-helpful 'all done' sign. I tried taking a picture of these, but it's hard to get Lucy to sign 'milk' when she's not hungry, and woe betide anyone who attempts to take her picture when she is signing a genuine need for milk because you will end up with this:
Poor thing, I'm trying to point and click and she's pumping her fist as if to say 'FUCK! MILK!' why are you torturing me?!
And that's the funny thing about sign language, signs can evolve and take on new meanings, or inadvertently be attached to the wrong thing. Lucy's sign for milk is done when she wants a bottle, or when she wants anything. In her mind she's not saying 'milk' she's looking at the proffered bottle and saying 'hell yes!', which is how she reacts when you're holding some chocolate and she signs 'milk' as if to say 'dude! hand it over - I want that' and when you laugh (cruel parent that you are) at her desperate attempts to communicate need she will start squeezing both fists at the same time as if to say 'are you not listening? what's wrong with you people. Fuck, I'm surrounded by morons.'
Sign language has been brilliant and will continue to be a big help in the transition to real words. The other day Lucy switched from saying 'Anne' to the delightfully juicy Anne Na. Two fat, luscious syllables, she was so pleased with herself. Anna came racing in, 'Mom! Loop said Anna! Me! Listen!'
"See! Good girl Lucy!"
"Lucy say Anna!"
"See? She's saying my name"
"Mom she won't stop"
"Anne-Na!" (proud smile)
"Mom make her stop"
"ANNE-NA!" (huge smile)
"Mom make her go away"
Oh it's going to be so much fun. Anna already talks as it she's on a one-woman mission to use up all the oxygen in a room, and to be fair I'm no slouch. Lance is muttering about needing a man-cave.