When G was a baby I attended a talk on ‘speech development’ run by my local Early Childhood Centre. Back in those ‘daze’ I frequently signed myself and G up for activities, keen to get out the house and in desperate need of friends with babies. The presenter (a Speech Therapist, or something like that) gave an overview of how babies learn to talk and what we could do to encourage them. It all seemed fairly abstract at the time, G was barely three months old and I was severely sleep deprived – It was hard to imagine G learning to talk when I was barely capable of stringing a sentence together myself.
One thing from the talk stood out, and although it seems fairly obvious, I found it helpful.
“Talk to your baby as much as possible, tell them what you’re doing, label things!”
It was good advice… although it might have been helpful to add something like:
“When you’re talking to your baby in public, ensure that: A) You are with your baby; and B) your baby is awake”
This could have saved me from wandering round a busy shopping mall declaring, “Mummy is tired! Mummy needs a coffee!” whilst G dozed happily in her pram.
It has been amazing to witness G’s speech development; although we have had the odd misunderstanding along the way… like the time she pointed at her newborn baby sister and shouted “Die! Die! Die!” (I’m still not sure what she was actually trying to say but I’m, er, at least 99% sure she didn’t mean it!). Or the time she bellowed “Bugger!!” the moment we put her in the bath… thankfully that one turned out to be “Bubble!”. Phew.
Now that she is repeating almost everything we say, my Husband and I have had to start watching our language a little more closely and making a few amendments; “Oh Crab Sticks!” I moan when I drop something, “You Wally Bean!” my husband yells at the driver who pulls out without looking. It was hard at first but now we barely notice we’re doing it.
Of course now that her communication skills have improved she has become a little more demanding.. it’s all “Mine!” or, “My turn!”. Sometimes I’m more than happy for G to have a turn.. like when I’m sweeping the kitchen floor, or folding laundry… but there are some things I have to say no to… “No G, you can’t have a turn of Mummies breast pump!”.
It fills my heart with joy to hear G singing to herself, and I’m so proud of her when she picks up new words and phrases… but none of this compares to the happiness I felt when G said “I love you” for the first time… and the most beautiful thing about it was that she said it to her baby sister, C. I cried.
…Then she ran off with baby C’s nappy rash lotion yelling “My bum cream!” … and the moment was over.