Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Guttural noises

A really special part of motherhood is learning to communicate with your baby. In the beginning, you try to figure out what their cries mean. You know, if it's high-pitched, he's hungry, if it's squeaky, he needs a diaper change, etc. I never really trouble deciphering Eric's cries, or should I say cry. He only really had one and it meant, "I'm really fucking pissed off and I won't calm down until you try at least seven different calming mechanisms at which point I will suddenly be happy as a clam because on the inside I'm chuckling heartily at your foolishness." Luckily for me, he didn't cry too often.

Well, these days, Eric is at a much different spot in the communication continuum. He is at the point where he seems to understand the concept of language, but is as of yet unable to use it very meaningfully. Sure he has a few words--ball, dog, woof, bear (although he says it like he's from New Yawk), ba-ba, uh-oh, dada and daddy (more like da dee). He has a wonderful range of sounds that he enjoys making, from the adorable "v" sound to the ear-piercing squeal and many things in between. Unfortunately, as with most toddlers, he has the patience of a drunk girl in line for the bathroom at a college bar. Combine the limited knowledge of language with a limited amount of patience and an unlimited amount of curiosity, and you get a lot of pointing and grunting and moaning and whining and general frustration. I mean, unless he wants to tell me, "Uh-oh, dada, dog woof ball bear uh-oh, baba" (translation: Oh, no, mother, that dog's ball was just stolen by a grizzly bear! How tragic; I'd like to contemplate that over some milk.), then our day is basically an extended version of 20 questions, where he knows the answer and is PISSED that I don't know it as well.

Take the other morning for instance. It's breakfast time, and Eric and I are enjoying one of our three favorite breakfasts: waffles and fruit. All of a sudden he starts pointing up at the top shelf of the baker's rack in our kitchen. At first I thought he was pointing to the sky to alert me of an airplane overhead (we live near the airport). Then I realized two things: first, there was no airplane noise, hence, no airplane, and second, he was definitely pointing over, not up. So, I'm trying to figure it out...I look up to the shelf. Baking soda, herbes de Provence, a stack of Cooking Light Magazines, a fancy strainer thing and a roll of paper towels...which could it be? He's getting frantic, and I'm clueless as to which of those items is so intriguing that he's willing to throw a tantrum over it. So, I start pointing to stuff. He shakes his head no. I point to something else, he shakes more frantically. And on it goes, with him getting more upset by the nano-second. Finally, I see what he sees. Tipped over, behind the stack of magazines, with just a tiny little corner sticking out, is a bag of Goldfish. I fish it out (pun intended) and there is a collective sigh of relief in the kitchen. So, allow me to correct an earlier statement: Eric and I are now enjoying our new favorite breakfast: waffles, fruit and goldfish.

This stage of communication is as adorable as it is frustrating. I want so much for him to tell me what he wants, but at the same time, part of me is going to miss the pointing and the head shaking stage. As with every other stage he's gone through, this one is going to be gone in the blink of an eye...just another date in the baby book. All too soon, he'll be turning those grunts into real mommy-defying words. I just read somewhere that between 18-24 months, kids can add a new word to their vocabulary as often as every 90 minutes. Fascinating, although I guess that means it's time to stop playing Snoop D-oh-double-g all day long.


K said...

LMAO! That was an awesome post. One of my favorites. Don't you love that head shaking? Elena decided to stop language development about a month ago. She is all about the shaking and nodding. Thank goodness she does both or we would be in big trouble. Mind if I copy your topic? I wanna write about the head shaking now!

Monica Palitang said...

You are so lucky to have Eric at least shaking his head! Delaney just points and says "da" to everything and when I ask her yes/no questions about what she's pointing at, she just looks at me like "What are you talking about?"

elisa said...

You know what, sometimes I say LOL but i'm not really LOL, but when i say to you this time, LOL, i really was!

You're a freakin' hoot! Keep writing.

Lauren said...

Great post! It is frustrating isn't it? I actually find myself doing most of the whining. "What? Morgan, what is it? I don't understand. What do you need?"

Eric is adorable, btw!

Tess said...

We're starting to watch our language too.... It's funny how they can notice the smallest thing, and drive you crazy trying to guess that they mean!