Walking is unmistakable. Either you can put one foot in front of the other, not hold on to anything, and propel yourself, or you can't. Ben did it for the first time last weekend, and despite much celebration on all our parts, seems to have lost enthusiasm for bipedality (a not-uncommon reaction to first steps, apparently) and regained considerable gusto for crawling. Which is fine.
But talking is such a judgment call. I had him at the pediatrician for his one-year physical, and she asked if he has any words, and I said No because we don't think he does, really, but who knows? He says "dah" about a lot of things, and it's entirely possible that one or two or six uses of "dah" are actual words. Certainly he never uses another sound or syllable for Dog, or for Dad. He says "diss" in a way that suggests "this" to me, to go along with another use of "dah" for "that." Sometimes he says stuff that sounds an awful lot like "cacka" when he's very excited about getting a cracker (which is pretty much any time he's about to get a cracker -- kid likes crackers), but he doesn't do it consistently (sometimes he just says "dah! dah! dah!"), and he won't do it when prompted.
He has considerable receptive language, and he certainly communicates his desires very well by pointing and "dah"-ing. When asked, he can point to such varied and useful items as his toes, his mouth, his hair, Mom's belly, a dog, a ceiling fan, a window, peas, pineapple, and probably a couple dozen other quotidian things. When I've told him not to bug sleeping Lola, he points to her and shakes his head sagely.
Do I sound like I'm making excuses? Early expressive language is a marker of intelligence. I was an early talker. But really, it's not that. I'm not concerned that this child will be a dullard. It's just that I talk to him all day, every day, and I'm so eager for another voice to join in and make it a conversation. And it's such a huge and crucial part of personhood, and watching him become a person is an addictive delight.