Kiddo#4, at 18 months, is finally picking up useful words.
I get “Mommy” all the time. “Mah-mee?” Yes, Kiddo? “May-mee?” Yes, Kiddo? “Mah-mee?” Yes, Kiddo? “Mah-mee?” “Mah-mee?” “Mah-mee?” (You get the point.)
There are also times when he’s jabbering and I can only figure out what he’s saying if I don’t pay attention to the words, just reading his intonation and inflection.
But overall, his useful word is “no.”
As in, “Do you need a new diaper?” “NOOOOO!”
And, “Do you want a freezer pop?” “No.”
And following that second version of “No” (which sounds more like “neh”) he will trot over to the freezer and look at me with delight.
For you see, sometimes NO does not mean NO. In the world of Kiddo#4, NO is how you answer a question. It indicates that you have heard the question and have given your input on the matter.
He does give different kinds of answers, of course. The longer he draws out the NO, the more likely it is that he actually means he prefer your suggestion not be implemented. But it’s not a guarantee.
Meaning that most of the time, I have to resort to my maternal mind-reading powers (which are highly-developed, I assure you) and give our Kiddo the mistaken impression that he’s communicated.
Most of his speech is still jabber, that near-language where you feel that if only you listened just a little closer, you could make out what he was saying. He conveys a wealth of meaning through tone of voice and speed of speech and inflection. Just not actual information.
“Kiddo,” I say, “are you learning to talk?”
He replies, “No.”
And either way, he’s correct.