Friday, February 12, 2010

Is There An Echo In Here?

Ryan is starting to reach that delightful stage of discovering his own voice. He coos, he giggles, he grunts, he snorts, he "sings", he makes noises that there aren't even words for. But he's always making sounds. And I find myself constantly imitating them. When he makes his werewolf "AhhooOOOOoohh" sound, I howl right back at him. When he makes his "mmmmMMMmmm" noise, I "mmmMMMmmm" in tandem with him. When he makes his fussy "mmmmm-ah!", I repeat it to him. Every sound he makes, I make too.

What is it with this compulsion to imitate a baby's noises? Wouldn't it make more sense to respond to him with English words, perhaps words similar to the sound he's making? When he says "mmmmm-ah", shouldn't I be repeating "Mama" to him? Maybe. But that's no fun. It's much more fun echoing back his funny little inflections and secret language. It's fascinating to try to get inside his head and figure out why he's making those noises. Does it feel good in his mouth? Is he imitating sounds he's heard me make? Is he even aware that he's the one making the noises he hears? And when I imitate him, is he aware that I'm repeating the sounds he's just made?

There are so many times that I'd love to know what's going on inside his head. Everything around him is so new, I'm sure there's a lot I take for granted that he's either unaware of or just noticing for the first time. I'd love to know what new sounds make him think, I'd love to understand the progression of thoughts in his head as he puts ideas together. Making the connection that moving his lips and tongue and throat in a certain way produces the sound he's hearing is really an impressive cognitive leap, when you think about it. It's amazing that children are ever able to understand and recreate language.

I guess that's why it's a good thing that I repeat everything, because it gives him one more chance to understand and learn.

I guess that's why it's a good thing that I repeat everything, because it gives him one more chance to understand and learn.

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