You’re roughly 19 months old now

Dearest 3B,

As you have started speaking in sentences this week, I’ve realized yet again that I have no idea what I’m doing.

I won’t overbrag and describe your speech as complete sentences because, although it’s close, you generally still miss a few words. It started on February 23, when you strung two words together for the first time as you called out to us from your crib in the morning: “Wake up. Wake up! Wake up? Wake up.” We were both excited at your newest verbal trick, as were you, and you shortly thereafter added new phrases, such as “come back” and “time out.”

That morning was, in fact, the first time that you’d strung two syllables together outside of saying “mommy,” “daddy,” or “doggie.” And sure, a couple of those phrases happen to be complete sentences, but that’s just a happenstance. However, being newly polysyllabic allowed you, on February 25, to report to Mama, “Fire engine down road.”

Now that’s a sentence.

Not a full one, but a sentence nevertheless. I know that Mama was delighted at it, since she called me at work to report the news, and you were still saying “down road” repeatedly when I got home that night. In fact, whenever someone says “fire engine,” you repeat it. This all gives us one less developmental hurdle to worry about you getting over. For now. There will always be something to worry about later, I’m sure.

Actually, I did wonder–not worry–about that article and asked Mama if she thought you knew 50 words or not. She immediately said, “Oh yeah, I can come up with 50 words right now: barn, tractor, truck, motorcycle, helicopter…all his colors…”

Your colors were something that Mrs. K mentioned last time I picked you up. She pointed out that when all of you at daycare are talking about an object, you’ll state the color of the object. And she repeated what my sister Kangamoo said–that understanding colors is hard because it’s an abstract concept, since it’s a quality of the object, not the object itself, yet it’s inherent (or so it seems) to the object.

But, you know what, little guy? This does likely mean that you have an aptitude for spoken language, but what it surely means is that you’ve got two gabby parents. Sorry about that, but turnabout, it seems, is fair play, because you’re quite the motormouth at times. Like at times when Mama and I are having a conversation. Like when you’re going to sleep or waking up. Like when we’re driving around and you announce everything that we go past, “Gas [station]! Playground [actually, the turn off for it]! Store! Grocery [in case we weren’t sure which one he was announcing]!”

What’s harder to figure out is when you announce those things that happened last time you passed that way, especially when you passed that way with the other parent…

“Copter!”

“Do you see a helicopter?”

“Copter!”

“Do you hear a helicopter?”

“Copter!”

“Does that truck sound like a helicopter?”

“Copter!”

“Do those birds way up there look like a helicopter?”

“Copter!”

“Do you want your toy helicopter?”

“Copter!”

“Do you see a drawing of a helicopter? Is there one in your book back there? Does that tree look like a helicopter? [What can I say? I get desperate.]”

“Copter!”

“Did you see a helicopter last time you were here with Mommy?”

[Big grin around thumb firmly planted in mouth. Bingo.]

I don’t know why, but I fall for this at least once a week. And with far greater frequency, I realize that I have no idea how you learned all these words, other than having a Dad who’s a Chatty Cathy, and a Mama who knows big words. This also seems to be how you picked up some vital skills like eating and walking and laughing, but if my primary teaching mechanism is osmosis, you’re hosed when it comes to other important skills like math, dressing yourself in matching and appropriate clothing, and dusting. Apologies for all of that, but remember, Mama’s the smart stylish one.

I love you with all of my heart, tiger, and I can’t wait to hear what you have to say in the rest of our months together. All my love,
Papa

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  • “Copter!” There’s a whole beautiful story inscribed in that one word, about how the last time he was here with Mama he and she shared a special experience–they saw a helicopter!–and it was such a thrill for the two of them that he wants to share it with you, because he knows how much they both mean to you.

    Or he wants to know, if Mama can pull copters out of thin air when he wants to see one, how come you can’t.

    Sometimes mere words just aren’t enough. Bravo.

  • My favorite game was when a child would see something and announce it. Then my job was to find where they saw it. Note to you: don’t wank into Toys R Us!!

    Yeah, and why can’t you pull helicopters out of thin air like mama does?

  • Maybe he was trying to say that you’re a helicopter parent? Just kidding. Congrats on 19 months, 3B. You’re a big boy now!

  • My boy still points out things I can’t see. He somehow expects me to see the fingers from the front seat. Usually, it is in the form of, ” Wow, look at that!” By the time I figure out what that was, we are miles down the road, and it is gone.

    Silly Mommy for wanting to share.

  • I can’t remember the technical term, but an early childhood educator once told me that what 3B is doing is a definite step in language development: the all-inclusive word. “Copter!” truly does mean a whole sentence, or paragraph, to him.

    Sometimes I think kids are just speaking German at that age. You know, like how they make some huge polysyllabic word to encompass a state of being–like Vergangenheitsbewältigung, a personal favorite from the last book I edited.