What a difference a word makes

Kiddo#4 has begun to talk. I’ve long suspected he understood how to use far more words than he produced (which is normal) but he hadn’t been saying much. I got the number for early intervention, but the doctor said I could wait before calling. So I waited.

Now he’s using lots of single words, but he’s also begun combining words. And amazingly, he’s using first-person pronouns.

But first for the single words. He loves things that are single-use and easily identifiable. Shoes, for example. “Szz.” He pads up to me, barefoot, holding them.  “Szz,” he says, climbing onto my lap. “Oh,” I say, “Kiddo#4 wants to wear his shoes.”

He’s wearing no socks. I loosen the shoe to fit it onto his foot. “Nooo!” he exclaims. “Saaachs.”  Then he slips off my lap to go locate some socks.

In other categories he overgeneralizes. He has one stuffed bear he loves, and from that he’s determined that every plush animal on earth is Bai. And so if he asks for Bai, I have to determine which of four bears he may be requiring at the moment: the fuzzy one, the friendly-faced one, the owl, or the blue thing that makes music. Bai.

But yesterday, when Kiddo#3 turned my stomach by asking for spaghetti with sauce at 8:15 in the morning, as I put it in the microwave, Kiddo#4 came to me saying, very clearly, “Meh. Doo. Meh. Doo.”  And pointing at his chest.

I blurted out, “You too?”

That first person pronoun is a shocker because it’s not usually developed this  early. Most babies (all three of my others included) spend a while calling themselves “You” because they’ve heard it so often. “Do you want pizza?” Mom says while handing the baby pizza, and they conclude, smartly,that “Me” means Mom and “You” means oneself. Thus you get exchanges such as this one, which used to happen to me on a regular basis with one of mine:

6:03 AM

Baby: Momma? You have poop.
Me: ….?  {Desperate for at least one more minute in bed.}  No, I’m fine.
Baby: {thinks for a while.}  Beebee have poop.
Me: {gets up to change diaper.}

For my 20 month old to be saying “Me too” without a stopover at “You too” is strange. Puzzling. But maybe with three older siblings to model selfishness for him (more than I do, that is) he had a leg up.

He ran into Kiddo#2’s room two nights ago, snatched a stuffed elephant off her shelf of stuffed animals, and ran again into the hall. I called after him, and he turned to me with a brilliant smile. “My bai!”

I laughed — how could I help it? Because “My” means “I have laid claim to this thing,” not “this thing is inherently mine and belongs to me.”  Only, “I want it and I am holding it.”

He was parted from “his” bai. But I’m still impressed by the difference a word makes, because before the world was merely sparkling with treasure, but now it can be his.


About philangelus

Mom, freelance writer, novelist, angelphile, Catholic, know-it-all.
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One Response to What a difference a word makes

  1. whiskers says:

    That’s wonderful!

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