I am fascinated with the ways children evolve from their completely dependent forms – making nothing but sounds or cries, but eventually forming words, then sentences, then complete conversations like little adults. From needing to be spoon-fed mushy puree to sitting down to a meal with mommy and daddy like the little human they are.
Lately I’ve gotten to witness more of the evolution as our son, now four, suddenly has begun to recognize words.
We were at Barnes and Noble recently with a friend and her little one, waiting for a cup of tea at the cafe (I love that African Autumn tea) before heading back to the children’s section for some Thomas the Train Engine time and general book browsing. Nearby stood the little countertop with napkins, creamers, stirrers, etc, and the flapping door of the garbage can underneath, with two words embossed across it.
“Does that say thank you?” his little voice asked.
“Does what, buddy?”
“That,” he said, pointing to the flapping door on the garbage can, clearly saying “Thank You” on it to those who throw away their trash and not litter.
“It does, buddy! How did you know that?!”
“I dunno. I just did.”
And thus has been a bit of a trend lately. We’ve been fortunate enough that he’s been interested in and fluent in his alphabet since early on, but this…THIS….to see his eyes move from one end to the other, his mind taking in these letters and putting them together, and recognizing the words they form. It has truly been a remarkable experience, as a parent, and just as a human being.
I thought back to a time in recent months at my mom’s house, where he was hanging out for a bit while Meg and I ran some errands and my mom asked about lunch. Not wanting to give away the options up front and lock ourselves into something he’d hear, we spelled our options, including when she said “I can make g-r-i-l-l-e-d c-h-e-e-s-e?”
“That would be great,” I said.
Then his little voice popped up, “Yeah, I LOVE grilled cheese.”
Or when I asked my wife what she was in the mood to watch as a family one particular evening, The Dick Van Dyke Show, or some Adam West B-a-t-m-a-n.
“Batman?” we heard pipe up.
Suddenly it dawned on me as we stood there at the cafe in front of the thank you sign, hearing him read this aloud, that he’s been doing it, little by little, right along – only I haven’t paid close enough attention to realize these are no flukes.
Seeing this string of word revelations over time is a revelation to me that we are in a brand new stage, one that will open the door to a whole new era of life, and of knowledge for him. I couldn’t be happier. Or prouder.
It’s certainly been an interesting two weeks in the milestone department.
Just about two weeks ago, our little guy suddenly went from just rolling around on the floor (something we have to be careful of in our living room, as the previous owners just threw very thin carpeting over hardwood, with no padding between), to all of a sudden doing what could only be described as a combination of an army-crawl and the worm.
When he abruptly realized what he had done, it was only moments before he was doing it over and over again, to the point of making his way all the way around our large ottoman to find me hiding on the other side, and amusing himself thoroughly the entire time. Is there anything more heartwarming then the giggles of a baby?
I couldn’t believe it. He was mobile.
However, reaching daddy was certainly only the beginning of this vast new world opening up in front of him, and that same night, he quickly found his way, all on his own, to one of our built-ins housing our DVDs, and pulled out Pixar’s “The Incredibles,” rolled himself on his back and just stared at it, ‘talking’ to Mr Incredibly and family in a myriad of noises for a good ten minutes or so.
It took only one week more for him to start finding the ability to move his knees and ditch the worm thrust that was getting him around. With that, we now have a fully-crawling baby on our hands. One that can sit up on his own, one that can make his way across the room, try to chase the kitties, and pull anything he can get his hands on out and all over the floor, be it cases, DVDs, papers, anything.
I think it’s time to start baby-proofing.