Monday, December 15, 2014

Parenthood – Week 81: Words

In the past week Ollie has said “Good girl” referring to Buffy, named three books by title: “Hat” for Red Hat, Green Hat, “Hop” for Hop And Pop and “Boom” for Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. Ollie now uses “mommy” in his regular vocabulary and for the past couple days has been saying “bubbles” reflecting his current obsession. Ollie’s talking up a storm and he’s really been in the mood to imitate sounds that Diana and I make as we interact with him.

I don’t remember Ollie’s first word. Some people take the first sounds their children make as a baby and call them first words but Diana and I didn’t see it this way. When he first said “dada,” we both knew that he wasn't referring to me as he repeatedly made that sound crawling around the house and pointing to almost everything in the room except for me.

In the same way that Ollie’s first social smile was meaningful to us because it showed a level of interaction and affection, parents often look to first words as signs of care, and interest.  Sometimes this causes parents to interpret random sounds as words when the infant hasn't associated the sound with any object or action.

I’ve always loved listening to Ollie explore his voice. Sometimes after we put Ollie down for the night we will here him talking to himself. Diana calls this his “Dear Diary”-time. We will here him talk to himself joyfully like someone going over what they did that day with a friend. Then there’s the time when he walks around and joyfully screams at the top of his lungs the highest pitch I’ve ever heard a human being make.

There are times when it’s clear that he doesn’t have the word for what he’s trying to express and that can be frustrating for him, but he’s doing a good job at working at it. We taught Ollie some sign language and it’s been really nice for Ollie to be able to communicate with us better. Also it’s a way we can teach him to use his words. Instead of pointing to a food that he wants more of, I ask him to make the sign for “more” which gets him focused and forces him to be less demanding.

Toddlers learn words that they can’t actually speak. At certain points the muscles that control speech catch up with what they are trying to say and then you have an explosion of words. Right now, Ollie is giving us a bunch of new words and its super cute.

I remember Diana and I wondering what Ollie’s voice was going to be like when he started talking back when he was an infant. I got to tell you, it’s the cutest thing you’ve ever heard. It’s soft, light, and so full of spirit. When he talks, it’s almost like he’s singing the words.  Sometimes when he's talking I just want to pick him up and give him a hug and make him understand how much I love hearing his voice and proud I am of him for making himself heard.

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