Friday, August 28, 2009


We spent a few days this past week sharing a cabin in the Adirondacks with friends whose twins E. and V. are almost five. After they'd spent about a day with Ben, they cannily observed that he says "Ah-dah" a lot. Which there is no denying. By the end of the visit, E. was jokily starting conversations with Ben by say, "So ... ah-dah!" and we were all saying "ah-dah" when pointing or drawing attention or wishing to express delight. At one point, I said to V. and E. that probably the next time they saw Ben, they'd say "ah-dah" to him, and he wouldn't know why because he'd be talking by then and wouldn't remember when all he said was "ah-dah."

That paragraph was pretty repetitive with all those "ah-dah"s, huh? You got a little tired of hearing "ah-dah," didn't you? It's not as cute on the page as it is when pronounced by a fat-cheeked little sweetheart, but still. It is pretty much all he says, and I am getting a little impatient for Mama, say, or even some other gibberish.

He says "bahm," which is apparently the sound a cat makes. So it means cat.

He says "gahng," which is any clanging sound. He says it after he's made a big clanging sound.

He says "Tsssssss" when asked what sound a snake makes.

He says "ah ah" when asked what sound a monkey makes.

We met ducks at the cabin, so now he knows that "gock gock gock" is the sound a duck makes -- he would start quacking the instant he walked out the back of the cabin.

I've been hassling him.

"Say 'ma-ma-ma-ma,'" I say. His eyes get wide. He likes this game.

"Mamamamamama," he says. (Or sometimes, "Nananananana.")

"Yes!" I say. "'Ma-ma' is me! 'Ma-ma' is Mom! Say 'Ma-ma.'"


He gets the sound. He knows it's the M sound I'm asking for, and he likes to make the M sound and get a positive reaction. But he clearly hasn't made the leap yet from sound to word.

Which is kind of baffling, really, because his receptive language is pretty amazing. You only have to name an object he's interested in once or maybe twice for him to remember that word. Sometimes when I'm making his dinner, I ask him to go get his sippy cup and bring it to me, and he he does it. That's grasping two whole separate commands and remembering both of them long enough to complete both tasks (which of course also demonstrates a quite pleasant willingness to do what I ask). He can point out an impressive range of barnyard animals in his beloved farm book.

I'm not concerned about his lack of expressive language in the sense of being worried there's something wrong with him. I know that not talking at 15 months is still absolutely within the range of normal, especially for a kid who's an only and home with mom all day where he doesn't need to work very hard to get what he wants. I'm just impatient! "Ah-dah" is undeniably cute, but I'm tired of "ah-dah"!

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