Saturday, October 16, 2010


This morning, I woke up to the sound of a small voice down the hall announcing hopefully, “Up? Up?” A couple of times over the past few days I had thought that Ryan might have said, “up”, but I wasn’t completely convinced that he was really saying it or that it was in the correct context until this morning. But there is now no doubt in my mind that he not only said it, but that he knows what it means.

A baby learning to talk is pretty amazing, when you think about it. The fact that they can make a connection between the sounds they hear and their context is really impressive. I do sometimes say the word “up” by itself to Ryan, but most of the time he hears it in the context of a sentence: “Do you want to get up?”, “Ryan is going up the stairs,” “Are you ready to get up?”, “Come up on the couch with Mummy.” And I apply it to many different objects and situations: I lift him up, he hops up on the couch, we slide the beads up the string, Daddy throws him up in the air, he climbs up the stairs, I pick up the book. It’s a fairly complex directional concept. And yet, he obviously knows that in the morning, I pick him “up”. In the morning, or after his nap, I ask him, “Are you ready to get up?”, or “Who’s up?” or I say, “Come on up,” as I pick him up. So he’s learned to associate the word “up” with waking up and getting up and being picked up. That’s amazing!

And although he doesn’t say many words yet (“up” is the list in its entirety), he understands quite a few. He knows who “Daddy” and “Mummy” and “Grammy” and “Bammy” and “Pappy” are, and will look at the correct person if we say their name. He’ll look at the right object if you say “bottle” or “ball” or “book”. I suspect he knows a few others, like “kitty” and “snack” and “stairs” and “tubby” and “juice”. So know that he’s broken through the barrier and said a word in the right context and gotten the desired response, I wonder how long it will be before he learns to say new words to express himself.

What a sense of freedom and power that must be, to suddenly discover that you can communicate with others by using words! When he wants to get up, he can tell me so by saying, “up”. When he wants to look at his book, he’ll be able to say “book”. When he wants to play with his ball, he’ll be able to ask for it by name. Even if his sippy cup isn’t nearby for him to point at, he’ll be able to tell me what he wants by saying the magic word, “juice”.

A whole new world is opening up for both of us – the wonderful world of words!

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