Friday, May 6, 2011


I was talking to a father at one of Ben's activity groups this week about his daughter who at 18 months has just a few words.  He was worried.  As it happened, I had just reread this blog post, so my attitude about the same stage with Ben was fresh in my mind.  I told him that we, too, were told we ought to work at being a little less attentive, to pretend we didn't understand what he wanted so as to elicit words, and that I didn't like that kind of deception and didn't do it.  (Instead I prompted him for the word before giving in to whatever it was I already knew he wanted.)

I have no idea if any of what we did or didn't do hurried or delayed his talking schedule.  He had around 50 words at at his 24-month check-up, which I know because we made a list, and it's a pretty entertaining little artifact.  His pediatrician said to give her a call if the summer passed (his birthday is the end of May) without a substantial language explosion, and I remember being a bit concerned even into July, and I don't remember ever thinking, "Oh, here it is: the language explosion!" but I also don't remember reaching the end of the summer and even considering calling the pediatrician.

And now here we are at nearly three, and it's not unusual for people to comment on how articulate and chatty he is.  He's very chatty.  He likes to bust into whatever conversation is happening between me and the check-out clerk or me and the server or me and the FIOS installer to announce apparent non-sequiturs like, "But I have a semt mixoo [cement mixer]!" or once, memorably, to respond to the age question from an enthusiastic waitress, "Two half.  But I have gun!"  (A wooden one Andy made so that Ben would stop stealing his carpenter's square.)

I was never really worried about his language development.  I knew the range of normal was wide, and it was clear from very early that his receptive vocabulary was huge.  But it was one of those things, lurking just beyond the horizon, ready to burst into star-spangled worry at any moment.  Until it wasn't.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Baby Videos

I've been downloading and processing the drawerful of mini DV tapes, mostly from after Ben was born, with a few of just dogs and Andy and me from before.  I'm mostly doing it because I want to make a DVD for my father-in-law, who never gets to see the kid, and because it's something I've been meaning to get around to that's way more fun than vacuuming, but it's also rather a handy review of babyhood for someone who's going to give birth (Inshallah, knock wood, no jinx) in three months.

The funny thing is, what I'm surprised by isn't the hard stuff, which I remember vividly, but the sweet stuff.  Of course, you don't tend to videotape the fourth straight hour of crying, the epic diaper, the inability to eat at restaurants.  You tape the dog giving the baby foot kisses, the baby digging the swing, the baby gumming tasteful European wooden toys.  But Ben was a tough newborn, and the former stuff has loomed much larger in my mind than the latter, and I confess to being a little freaked out at the thought of going through it all again, especially since this time we'll be subjecting our happy pre-schooler to the misery, too.

I wasn't a big fan of babies before my own was born.  I believed the people who said you'll love your own even if you don't like babies at all -- or at least hoped very hard that they were right.  And of course they were.  And I was even fond of other babies when my baby was a baby, but the interest faded quickly.  Now I find babies vaguely creepy and offputting again, though I can generally work up the requisite enthusiasm when presented with a baby belonging to someone who matters to me.  Once they hit six months or so and aren't quite so fragile-looking, I even find them cute, but I feel no particular desire to hold one or do more than make a face to get smiled at.  I wanted another baby not because I wanted another baby, but because I wanted another toddler. 

But looking a these videos, I don't know.  He's awfully cute with his super-fat cheeks and thigh rolls, giggling in his doorway bouncer and giving the dogs open-mouth kisses.  Maybe having a baby around again will be pretty nice after all.