Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Power of Speech

Looking back over the vast expanse of 62 years, I don't really remember when my brothers and sisters were learning to speak. I doubt I was struck by the magic of emerging language skills when I was a kid myself, but I do remember how excited I was when my own kids began to speak. Walking and talking are the biggies - life is not the same once babies master these skills.

My granddaughter, Adaline, started walking on September 1, 2013- now she thinks it's funny to crawl around like a baby. She likes to bounce up on her toes and she tries to jump, but she hasn't reached lift-off yet.

We're a family of talkers, so it's not surprising she's already talking a blue streak - my daughter was the same way, and my son talked pretty early, too. My daughter was the chatterbox but he held his own.

I've been looking forward to Adaline talking - I want to know what's going on in her head. Pretty early on she made it clear she wanted to know what everything was called. She'd go through books and point at things. Gradually, she started going through those books, pointing at the pictures and saying the names of each animal and/or object herself.

She loves exciting moments in books - THE NAPPING HOUSE is a favorite, and her favorite scene is the one where the bed breaks and the animals (especially the cat) fly through the air. She likes the scene in THE CAT WHO WANTED TO FLY when Maggie the witch tells Midnight the cat he is too little to go on her broomstick. "No, no, no," Adaline tells the kitty in a very firm voice. She loves the scene in ROOM ON THE BROOM where the fire-breathing dragon appears, chasing the witch. "Yikes!" she screams, and quickly turns the page where the dragon gets his come-uppance.

What is surprising to me is how quickly she's trying to say multi-syllable words. She carries around her much-loved wooden alligator pull-toy, hugging him and saying, "Ay-gator!" She leads me down the hall, saying, "Evator!" (elevator) and shrieks when she sees a "hechopter" (helicopter) go by.

She was slow to give us names but now I'm "Gama" and Marty is either "Bapa" or "Gampa" - he answers to both. She can say both "Mommy" and "Kim" and "Daddy" and "Jon", and she says "Jeca" and "Jeshie" for Auntie Jessica. Her dog, Winston, she calls by his full name: "Winston Chu-chill" and she loves to call the cats. The two at my house are "Cabber" (Casper) and "Char-char" (also Chow-wee) (Charlie) and at Jessica's house there's Mou-Mou (Mouse) and Jammie (Sammie).

Food is another interesting category of words. She likes "pizz-e-a" and "nacks" (snacks). Auntie Jessica has some chocolate kitty cats in her fridge that have been there since Christmas. Yesterday Adaline tugged on Jessica's finger and said, "C'mon, choc-lit!" and pulled her to the fridge.

She loves a particular episode of Curious George that features a skunk, so "Pee-uw!" is a favorite word. She was concerned about a sleepover episode of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood - she still likes the show, but she points to the TV and says, "Scary!" (pronounced "Sca-wee") when it comes on now. She has trouble saying Great-Grandma and Great-Grandpa so she's learning to say their real names now. She can clearly say the name of her young aunt Cecilia, though!

The word we hear most is "Baaaaby!" - she does love her babies! I thought she was saying my name once, but she wasn't saying "Becke", she was saying "Bankie" (blankie). She's mastered - sort of - the names of many animals (birdie, ho-sie, cow, pony, huppo, turtle, guck, squi-yul and so on). I'm a little sad because she's learned to say "doggie" instead of "goggie", which is one reason I'm writing this. Before long she'll be speaking so clearly it will be easy to forget Adaline's first attempts at speech. She's growing up so quickly, one day she'll be asking what her first words were. I'm afraid I'll forget!

The words we were most excited about she said to her grandpa the other day. "Bye, gampa," she said, "Love you!" We're excited about "please" and "thank you," too, but "love you" is definitely the best!