Friday, November 18, 2011

First Words


For some reason, I thought that a baby's first word was an unequivocal thing. One day, you have a non-verbal baby, the next, he says a word that clearly means something and he uses it again and again.

Clearly, this is movie propaganda. I don't usually fall for movie lies about babies, but I was duped by this one. I thought LO would wake up one day saying "Daddy" or "Mama" or "chainsaw" and I'd be able to tell his children about his first word.

But my pre-verbal little guy likes to make lots and lots of noises. Several weeks ago, the noises LO made sometimes sounded like the word cat and he was facing the direction of one of our felines when he said it. First word! Huzzah! Except after two or three repetitions, the "ca!" sound didn't resurface again. (This may have been because J kept trying to reprogram LO to say dog instead, but needless to say, I don't know that ca! was really LO's first word).

A few weeks after that, I concluded that I had prematurely taught my son how to say balls. Because it's never too early to get boys talking about that part of their anatomy. Fortunately, LO only repeated the word "Ba!" in a testicular-context once or twice, so that was probably not his first word.

For the past three weeks or so, LO has really enjoyed peppering his babbling with the sounds "Dadadadadada" and "Mamamama." It has felt like he's talking about/to J and me, but he'll sometimes start on his "Dadadada"ing while J is at work, so it's unclear if he really means what we want him to mean. I always tell him "Daddy will be home at 5:30 or so," but we haven't had the conclusive proof that Hollywood promises that he is speaking his first word.

And then yesterday, it happened!

LO and I went to the local mall for our usual afternoon constitutional. (It's far too cold to walk at the park these days). After we'd made several loops of the mall, I took LO to the little playground area in the mall and let him explore the joys of avoiding being trampled by overenthusiastic 5 year olds. (I kid. He already loves being around 5 year-olds, whether they trample or not).

While LO was playing on a little plastic structure in front of me, a 4 or 5 year old girl came over to investigate. LO looked up at her--they shared a smile, and then she said "Hi."

"Hi!" LO said, clear as day and twice as bright.

"That baby said hi!" the little girl announced to her mother.

"Yeah, some babies can talk," the mother replied.

Meanwhile, I was tearing up because this was such a big deal.

As LO's Grandpa put it, the child waited to speak his first word until he was able to impress an older woman with it. Smart cookie.


  1. Awww.
    My first word was 'Rob' - my older brother's name. I thought that was adorable until I saw that Simpsons episode, and now it scares me.