I’ve mentioned our one-year-old’s penchant for using the words Mommy and Daddy interchangeably. He’s getting better at differentiating the proper usage of each, but he still backslides once in a while and uses a universal Daddy to cover the nomenclature of both parents.
It feels as though this child is adopting the English language slower than his brother did, though he seems, in general, to be a quicker mimic and a bit more advanced with hand-eye coordination. He certainly has a stronger throwing arm, and is not afraid to use it, even at point-blank range.
His reluctance to use our words does not mean that he is the silent type. To the contrary, he is quite verbose in his own language, which he speaks most eloquently, and with passion. Last night, we were writing with crayons. He would make a mark on the paper and then tell me the story of what it meant. He was animated in the telling, using his voice, hands, and facial expressions to relay the nuances of his tales. When his eyes grew wide, I knew it was the serious part; when he showed me his scared face, I knew to be frightened.
He enjoyed telling me what he knew, all in his own language. All he needed from me was an occasional acknowledgement, in any language, that I was interested. It occurred to me that this might be his last chance to tell me these things – the secrets that only babies know about life and the universe. Soon, he will speak our language, making it necessary that he forget all the infant wisdom with which he was endowed. It is not good for adults to know too much about Creation.
Now that he has unburdened his soul, I expect the slow transition to our language to quicken. He is already assimilating more of our words into his vocabulary, and in a most impressive way, methodically choosing the important words first.
Juice and No are already firmly within his lexicon. Recently, he added another a vital word. We encountered an arcade game one day. He became interested in the coin slot. I told him that was the place where you put the money, then set him on a chair so he could watch the demo. Soon, he climbed down, pulled me to the game, pointed at the coin slot, and said, “Money.” Apparently, the demo was not engaging enough, and if Daddy isn’t good for a couple of quarters, what is he good for?
Days later, he saw an image of spare change on the computer. His eyes widened. He pointed and exclaimed, “Money!” If this is not proof enough of his systematic adoption of words based upon their usefulness, it should be noted that he added the very important word Cheetos to his repertoire only moments after his first taste.
Now that he knows how to indicate Money and Cheetos, he is at work on perfecting one of the cornerstone words of toddlerhood: Mine!