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Oink, moo.

January 7, 2010

These were my son’s first words. (First according to me. Words according to the encouraging and definitive Official Scrabble Players Dictionary.)

They continue to be his favorites, alongside a few others (meow, uhoh, no, go, eyes, hey, more, dad, baa). For the affirmative he uses “Oh.” For disappointment he says “Oh, maaaan.”

He says some other things, but I don’t understand them. Many of them sound like words in English, but in most cases that seems to be mere coincidence. I know so because Jack is nonverbally fluent.  He gestures, imitates and demonstrates like nobody’s business. Thing is, since his birth I’ve made it my business to interpret them all with speed and accuracy.

Now I’m wondering: If I played dumb more often, would he talk to me?

He recognizes and understands an endless number of words, from bowl and bird to eggs and Elvis. He follows directions. He likes to use what words he’s mastered. But what he really loves is the guessing game – giving us clues, watching us work with them. He gets a thrill out of that chase. If we don’t arrive at the right spot, then he pulls me by the hand, or pushes me to the right one.

When all else fails, he shouts.

Once upon a time, I made lots of jokes about the conveniences of the nonverbal phase. Now I make jokes about the inconveniences and suppress the urge to Google “why doesn’t my 21-month-old talk more?”

Because I’m not worried; I’m impatient. (I feel New Year’s Resolutions coming on.)

I’m convinced he has a word collection stashed somewhere, the way he hid his walking practice. Maybe behind the canned food in the kitchen cabinet? He spends a lot of time fishing around in there, and occasionally leaves a toy behind.

Sometimes when I coax him to say something, he humors me and says it. Often he looks and smiles at me with what I swear is pity, then goes about his business. If he could, I imagine he might ask me to be more like the feline friend he made at my friend Erin’s last week. They understand each other.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 7, 2010 8:56 pm

    Don’t worry the talking will surely come. Francesco did not really talk until he was really close to 2. I remember when Nicolo was born (Francesco was 20 months) I could have sworn he was never going to talk. Now all he does is talk and sometime reverts back to babbling or grunting like his brother.
    Nicolo is 21 months and he only has a few words in his repertoire; bubble, NO, Naan (which is his word for Mom), Echo (which is Francesco) and Dadda. He also says a ton of stuff that I know means something. He follow directions like a champ and know what we mean when we say, get your shoes and get our cup etc.
    I am like you more impatient than worried. I worried about Francesco, Nicolo I just what to know what he wants – cause I am really bad a charades. I am getting better and by the time I get it down he will be talking.

  2. January 8, 2010 12:50 am

    Silly Jack… he is just his own little man. Cute picture!

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