In the last few days, at 19 months, The Engineer’s Baby has finally started to say Papa. For the last two months, she has called us both Mama. And before that, she just got our attention with grunts and screams, and didn’t really see the need for names. It has been a surprising wait (she has been babbling up a storm since 6 months old, and she LOVES her papa), but watching her learn to communicate has been one of the absolute joys of parenting so far. She took a while to get started (she said her first word, bowl, around 16 months, which isn’t all that late but was late enough for this perfectionist to get a little bit caught up in comparing and worrying), but she soon got the hang of it, and is now going along great guns (although she’s definitely still not the most verbal kid!)
Papa is the latest in a list of maybe fifty or so words that she says (we haven’t kept track very well!) Her favourite words are more and teddy and no, and now Papa. Many of the others are variations of the syllables ma and ba, making it pretty difficult for others to understand her, although I’m getting pretty good at spotting the differences. But even if people don’t understand every word, she’s a great communicator. She uses signs. We taught her water and all done, and she invented several more (including pepper, which came into play around 17 months when she was only just starting to speak and sign, and was an adorably weird view into her priorities). And when she doesn’t have a word or a sign, she uses gestures and/or drags people across the room to show them what she wants.
Interspersed with the meaningful communication is a whole lot of toddler babble, which is totally adorable. She chats to her teddy and her moose. She talks to herself as she works on things. She sometimes talks herself to sleep. A personal favourite is a little “oh dear/ooh ooh” sound that she makes when she is looking for something. It’s impossible to describe, and impossibly cute.
Which brings us to the biggest problem with writing a blog post about toddler talk: It’s completely impossible to convey in words how cute the communication is, and she clams up as soon as a video camera comes out. If you know a toddler of your own, I’m sure you’ll understand exactly where I’m coming from. If you have a baby and are waiting on this stage, you have so very much to look forward to. And I guess everyone else will have to just take my word for the fact that kids are amazing and adorable, and my kid is no exception.