Sunday, March 17, 2013

New languages

"Nana" (bananas) and "Gack" (milk) are his favorite things
to have when it's lunch or snack time
Our little guy just passed 19 months. Can you believe it? I still remember when he was little enough that we just swaddled him up and laid him across my chest, and he'd sleep there for hours. Now he's just this bundle of energy, running around the house in nearly nonstop fashion.

He's a happy kid. He has a big smile on his face when he's playing, and when his mommy or daddy come into the room after being away for a bit we're often greeted with a big smile and a big "Dah-dee!!!" or "Mo-meeeee!!!" I recently came home from a short trip to Florida, and he was all smiles and hugs after I'd been gone for a while.

That he is so happy is pretty much the only thing I care about right now. After our challenge with the milk allergy issue, it took him a while to get his feeding and weight where it needed to be, but he always had a smile despite it all. He's a resilient kid if nothing else. I think he got that from his mom.

He has many words and phrases:
  • Mommy
  • Daddy
  • Austin (he pronounces it "Auten")
  • Blanket
  • Ball
  • Squirrel
  • Banana
  • Apple
  • Book
  • Milk
  • Doggy
  • Hi
  • Hat (although anything that goes on his head is a hat to him, including food)
  • Please
  • Thank You
  • Juice
  • Bus
  • Truck
  • Car
  • Shoes
  • Box
  • Bubble
  • iPod (that isn't a typo)
  • Brush (he says that when he wants to brush his teeth)
  • Nigh-night
  • Bye-bye
  • Diaper
  • Poop (he points to his butt too)
  • Go
  • Cookie
  • Buddy
  • Applesauce
  • No
  • Yes
  • Yeah
  • More
  • This
  • Oh my!
  • Baby
  • Jacket
  • Shirt
  • Socks
  • Uh-oh
  • Twinkle
  • Eyes
  • Sticker
  • Ewwwww (and he makes the crinkle nose face - usually happens at diaper time)
  • Bath
  • Button (he points to his belly button)
  • Up
  • Boo
  • Window
That's 52 by my count. At this age, about 20 is a bare minimum and most kids have anywhere from 50 to 100. He probably is higher than 52, it's just we don't always pick up on the words because he's saying them wrong or is saying them wayyyy wrong. There are, for example, the words where we don't quite know. He has a singsong thing he does where he says "beeebawww" over and over. We know it means something but we have no idea what it is, and he's done it for about six months now. It took us a while to figure out that "dabi" was blanket.

That's been the most challenging part. He's at an age where he can point to what he wants and, failing that, ask for it. But if we don't know the word, we can't respond to it even though he thinks he's communicating clearly. It has to be frustrating to him, like being in a country where everyone supposedly speaks your language but nobody can understand you.

The books all said you'd pick up on the words they make up and eventually figure them out, and for the most part they're right. On our end it's like learning a new language immersion style. Once we hear it enough times and in enough contexts, it starts to come out and then we have a smack-my-head moment when we realize what he's been saying all along.

He does love reading his books.
I wish I could say there's a magic formula to this but a lot of it is just trial and error that comes with spending time around him and listening to him babble while he's playing. Every once in a while a word escapes. The vocabulary is coming because he's hearing words though, and we've tried to be good about reading to him and engaging him in conversation even if we are being nonsensical to one another. The habits are working, I hope. Spending time with books is one of his favorite things to do.

The babble is sort of fun though. He likes to squat down where our VCR is and babble for a few minutes and our joke is that he's like a salesperson at Best Buy talking about all the latest features, because his tone is so matter-of-fact even if what he's saying is completely unintelligible.

But every new word is kind of a cool moment. I marvel at where he was a year ago, when he was severely underweight and unable to keep food down. He's come so far in the past year and is this little social butterfly who loves life and loves being the center of attention around people, and now that he's got language to go with it that just means he's able to connect more with people around him. I have no idea where he gets that from.

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