Bah, Bah, Goo, Goo
My baby is talking!
My baby is communicating!
Bear in mind, these two usually do not go hand-in-hand.
Hey, it’s not my fault if Daddy and Doggie sound exactly the same coming from her. Aww, my baby’s saying “Daddy” and pointing at me. She loves me. How sweet…. Shit, the dog’s right behind me.
It’s been a slow process. Usually, when she comes up with a new word or gesture, I don’t realize it’s intentional. She repeats it two or three or twenty times, and all of a sudden, I’m like “Yes, that IS the doggie,” and she responds with either a proud gleam or a rolling of the eyes that clearly communicates “Finally, what the fuck is wrong with you?”
It started off subtly. All of a sudden she could understand a lot of what I was saying and even follow directions. Sure, she had been able to understand basic meanings or instructions for a while. But up until a month or so ago, it couldn’t go beyond, “milk?” or “put it there.”
Then one day, in some amalgam of a delaying tactic and a scatterbrained daddy moment, I muttered a string of steps that needed to happen before we went for a walk. “We need to get your shoes and go find a jacket and load the stroller and free the hostages and re-form the Beatles and blah, blah, blah.”
Next thing I know, she’s standing in front of me with her shoes in her hands. Random, I thought, but whatever. I put her shoes on and followed her as she walked back toward the front door. Sitting by the front door was her stroller, upon which she has already placed a jacket. The only thing missing was Ringo Starr.
Whoa, there’s no way she just followed my instructions. Must be a coincidence. But I’m always one for a science experiment, and since there wasn’t any enriched uranium atoms around, what would be the harm in using my daughter as a control group?
“Can you go get your sippy cup from the kitchen and bring it here?” I asked.
And she did. Shitballs! She can understand me! Maybe I shouldn’t be using “Shitballs!” as my primary exclamation anymore.
Before I knew it, the baby was following complex sets of directions. I don’t know that I’d trust her to cut the blue wire, not the red wire, but “go close the door” and “take this spoon to mommy” and “don’t be late for your job at the coal mine” are well within her wheelhouse.
Then came the pointing stage. She communicates like that fake sign language interpreter at Nelson Mandela’s funeral. A typical interaction might start with her pointing to her mouth because she wants to eat, then when I ask what she wants, she runs to the refrigerator. Do you want milk? Shake of head. Yogurt? A pause, then a more subtle shake of the head. A line of cocaine? Emphatic nod.
Everyone knows to store their crank in the fridge, right? That was purple drank in the Sunny D commercials.
Her gestures are not always reactionary, though. She’s a master at curling her hand toward her in a beckoning motion, followed by patting the ground next to her. She wants me to come and sit there. I remember the first time she did this and was shocked at how well it worked.
Let’s see, I beckoned mommy and she came to me, what do I do now? Pat, pat. Momma sat down Let me try it with Daddy. Ooooooooohhhhhh!
At this point her eyes and mouth got very big. She ran up to look me in the face, then turned around, did a U-Turn toward my wife and her mouth grew even wider. Have you ever seen Shaq’s dunk face? If she could speak right now, she’d be screaming “Holy Cunt-ticles!”
I really need to watch what I say around her.
Then came the words. Or maybe “the syllables” would be a better description. Or half-syllables. Sometimes it’s the first half of the syllable, sometimes it’s the second. Two syllable words become one syllable. Kee-ee is kitty. Me can be me or milk. Mo is more, which is code for anything from “I’m hungry” to “Let’s do that again.” No means no, and boy, when she first mastered that word, stomping her foot down with an emphatic “NO!” well, the dark side s strong with this one.
Baa might be bear or might be ball. Baa might also mean sheep, because a sheep says baa. Evidently this is a word. When the doctor asked how many words she can say, we were low-balling it to “properly enunciated words used in the proper context. But the doctor assures us that “If she say ‘moo’ when she sees a picture of a cow, that counts as a word.” Uh huh, Doc, let me explain that to the College Board when she takes her SATs.
One thing I can take credit for is her first compound word, baseball. Or, more precisely, “bay-baw.” It started during the World Series. Then we spent most of November playing MLB: The Show on my Playstation to get her to fall asleep. Like mother, like daughter.
She also says “bay-baw” for football if it’s on the TV. And curling. And, for a while, I’m pretty sure the TV itself was “ba-baw.” This trend has re-emerged now that her favorite TV Show is Bubble Guppies.
My wife says she knows the difference between baseball and football, and that the latter sounds closer to “boo-baw” than “bay-baw.” I’m skeptical, but I should believe my wife, because she’s much better at catching the nuances of baby language. I think the baby’s making random sounds (“eee, eee”), and my wife busts out “She wants cheese,” and the baby nods. Crap, I thought “eee” was the sound a monkey makes. Gonna have to study harder for my own Baby SAT.
Then the baby says “Fucktwat” and I give her a high five for listening to daddy.
Her most recent communicational leap was reached around New Year. The doctor told us to be on the lookout for stringing two words together. And sure enough, her first sentence came out clear as day, while sorting through things with my sister-in-law.
Auntie moved one item from the front of the line to the back of the line. Baby grabbed it from her, then shouted, “NO, MINE!”
I’m patiently awaiting my Parent of the Year Award.