I sit facing Luke on the couch. His pudgy little hands rest in my lap. His knees are tucked under him. His tush resting on his heels.
I say the word.
“Ba” he repeats.
“Doggy” I slowly prompt.
“Baba” he throws back at me.
No Luke, “DAWG-GEE”.
He laughs. BA – BAAAH”
I try to not look worried. Pat him on the head and smile at that face that giggles with each word. Each attempt.
He claps, proud of himself. Nudging me to clap along.
The word dance continues. Back and forth. My angst grows as I wonder if my worries that had been suppressed by the therapist only weeks ago, have reason to return. I grab my little guys hand and squeeze it. I smile at him and tell him I’m proud of him but I inhale deeply… planning a next step.
We all as moms imagine what our children’s first words will be. For me, besides mommy and daddy, the words that I imagined hearing from Luke were doggy, bunny, truck, car, milk, and ball. Maybe his own name? These were the words I worked on with him. Showing him pictures. Speaking them slowly, over and over, asking him to watch my mouth as I said them, until I was red in the face. And although he never tired of the game. Besides ball, the words just weren’t coming.
And they still haven’t.
This weekend something happened. We had an explosion of sorts. An explosion of words. HIS words. Words HE chose to be the first from his mouth. How dare I actually try to TELL him what his first important words should be!
The first few times he said these words, as clear a they were coming from his mouth, I had NO IDEA what he was saying. Because the words just weren’t in the realm of possible words to come from him. At least not in my mother’s manual.
It came out more like “Shaushage” but it absolutely was the word for this meat that is not eaten very frequently in our house. He said the word as I sat in his chair with him Friday night preparing to read him his goodnight book. He pointed at his bookshelves and repeated the word over and over as I pointed to each book asking him, “This one? This one? THIS one??” I was about to give up, both of us angry with frustration, and then I saw it. The Very Hungry Caterpillar. The Caterpillar ate through a Sausage. Along with pie, chocolate cake, a lollipop, salami, cheese, a cupcake, a pickle, and watermelon. But, Luke chose sausage as the key word to remember. And the relief in his face as I held the book up for him to confirm was Priceless. And we have now dubbed it the Sausage Book.
I know you’re all thinking that he’s really saying Bye as in Bye Bye which is frequently a child’s first word. But no. My son opens up a magazine finds a picture (usually of a car or truck), runs full speed at me and screams as he points to the picture, “Buy! Buy!”. Um, should I take this as a sign that I buy him too much? That I suggest “buying” things when we see them in catalogs? Yes… I think so too.
Again, I was quite confused when I heard Luke this morning wandering around the kitchen repeatedly exclaiming “Chee Toes! Chee Toes!” I walked in and asked him if he’d like some “Cheeeeeeze”? Some “Tooooast”? Maybe some “Juuuice”? All words that in my head could be one of the words he was repeating. He vigorously shook his head no at each attempt I made to guess what he wanted. Finally he pried open the cupboard and pulled out a bag of Cheetos that I didn’t even know I had. Duh Mom. I was ASKING for Chee Toes!
My son is a shoe whore. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course. As soon as I’ve pulled his pants up he’s pointing at his feet hinting that he wants his shoes. He runs for his closet every chance he gets to choose which shoes suit him that day. He pulls my shoes off the shelves and slips all of the different styles on and glances at himself in the mirror. And his favorite? Daddy’s shoes. He slides his tiny feet inside and shuffles around, proud as a little son should be. And tonight. As I laid him on his changing table and tugged his navy crocs off his feet he looked at me, smiled and as if he’d been saying it for months, stated, “Shoes.” Before feet. Before toes. Before any other part of the body. He said shoes. That’s my boy.
You would assume he started saying Two because he is Two. Two years old. People ask him all the time how old he is and he just smiles kindly without answering (age is a personal thing you know). He hasn’t started saying Two for this reason though. Nope. He says Two because he wants Another. I hand him a cookie, he now says “two”. I ask if he’d like me to read him a book, he says, “Two”. An apple, a crayon, a hug, you name it. He wants “two”. He’s young but he suddenly understand how it works, “You never know unless you ask!”
Today he also said Tee Ball as he lugged his new bat ball and tee out of the playroom. And Meat Ball as I asked Hannah if she ate them at her grandmother’s house. And as I rummaged through my purse like I do EVERY day sitting in the drivers seat, muttering expletives under my breath, I hear a small voice pipe up behind me, “Keys!” I laughed. Amazed. Flummoxed. “Yes sweetie, once again, mommy can’t find her keys!”
Needless to say, again, my worries have diminished. He’s moving forward. At his own speed. In his own time. Sidestepping instead of jumping over milestones. He’s choosing words carefully. With purpose. He’s gathering information on what will get him what he needs. And throwing words out there when we least expect them. We’ve seen a small explosion of words. And my heart is exploding with pride. And relief.
Anyone want to wager a guess on his next word?