I didn’t know that my kids learning to talk would be the greatest joy I’ve ever experienced. But I can tell you that hearing one of them say “toesh” (toes, for non-parents out there) gives me a heart-swelling sense of pride, even after the seven-thousandth time I’ve heard it.
In keeping with the ongoing theme of parenting fraternal twins, it continues to shock me how different they are in language development. One twin is constantly shouting out single words: cat, star, eyes, nose, ball, car. She sings along with “Wheels on the Bus” by saying “beep beep beep”, “bus”, and “town”. Not always in the appropriate spots, but she knows what she’s going for. If she wants to hear the song, she just says, “bus”, and nods, as if to say, “You know what to do. Don’t play dumb. Sing wheels on the bus, and do it now.” I oblige, to the point that the song is almost constantly in my head. I don’t mind. It’s a little more soothing than bananaphone.
The other twin speaks almost exclusively in unintelligible complete sentences, that usually sound like questions. She looks right into our eyes, and asks, “Bah loopity dah doopy do smoobidy dah?” blinking long slow blinks, dutifully waiting for the answer. I do my best to answer her questions but I must get it wrong a lot, because she usually asks the exact same thing again. “Bah loopity dah doopy do smoobidy dah?” And again.
What’s amazing is that it sounds like gibberish, but her ability to repeat the same gibberish over and over means that it can’t be, at least not in her mind. She’s actually asking something, but much like trying to have a decent conversation in a loud bar, both people are talking, and no one is understanding. You keep trying anyhow.
I also find it fascinating when I consider the words that they can’t or don’t say. They’ve recently both become attached (at different levels of intensity) to two plush toys. One is a little girl plush doll, with a giant head and rosy cheeks, little girl’s pink dress and mary-jane shoes. She is known in our family as “baby”. Everyone calls her that. She is distinctly the possession of Olimpia, and she is routinely asked for by name.
Dottie, on the other hand is attached to a plush Grover. He was adopted during a trip to Grandma’s house, where he previously lived. He was adopted with an intense passion; and though we often refer to Grover by name, she does not. When she wants him she shouts with passion and thrusts her arms in his direction. If you ask her if she wants Grover, she’ll grunt and scowl at you as if to say, “Of course I do, you MORON!” But she has yet to ask for him by name. I guess she’s still working on that word.
The communication opening up is fun. Finally the months and months of talking that felt like talking to ourselves is paying off. They sing their little songs with funny words and know how to ask for milk when they’re hungry. With such bold and bright personalities and clearly developing senses of humour, I look forward to their silly jokes and funny rhymes.
The feeling that they are starting to really understand what we’re saying is pretty great. We can ask them to do things, and it seems that they understand, for the most part. It’s not so much that they do what we ask, because they don’t, but at least we know they are choosing to ignore us.