“Ee jish?” Emmet asks me earnestly as he holds up the ball for my inspection.
“Yes, I do see this Emmet” I reply.
“Ee jish” is about all he can say, and he says it in relation to a lot. It can mean, and I'm guessing here, “Do you see this?” “Can I have this?” or “What the hell is this?”
He also says “ma” with the "m" drawn out into a kind of whine, but, before you get too excited, we think means “more” since it's most often associated with his
begging wanting something. He can
imitate me when I ask - really implore - him to say “mama” but it unfailingly
comes out “da da” syllables he spits out loudly and with a misplaced look of accomplishment.
But that’s pretty much the extent of his vocabulary. He points and whines, and for special emphasis when mom is failing to understand that “I want the goddamn milk woman!” he screams. So, there’s communication happening. But no real words.
|Who needs language when this kind of behavior eventually gets you what you want?|
Still, I pretend he can talk, and he responds in kind. He thinks he can talk and streams of complete jibberish spill out of his mouth as if another language. It’s not a totally unfun charade, but underneath all this I wonder if I should be worried.
His brother at 18 months had dozens of words.
A quick look at the go-to parenting neuroses stoking/calming Website, BabyCenter.com, shows dozens of parents of under 1-year-olds sick with worry that their baby hasn’t said a word. At Emmet's one year check-up the doc, going through her routine list of questions, said, barely looking up from the list, “And he’s saying mama and baba and the like, right?” shaking her head 'yes' so convincingly that I just went along and agreed, since I figured it was right around the corner.
But 6 months have passed and we have this: “ee jish” “Mmma” and “mbo” (a sound he makes when he sees cows). It’s all terribly endearing, but I wonder if it’s “enough.”
I used to tell other similarly worried moms about my brilliant uncle who couldn’t speak until he was three. When he finally spoke the words spilled out in complete sentences, fully formed thoughts. Before this, his parents worried he might be intellectually impaired, and the central irony is that instead he grew to be an academic giant, the dean of a major university and a leading game theorist. This narrative is meant as a comfort, a lesson to parents to relax and know that each kid develops on their own timeline and that you can’t predict intelligence by it. But I have no expertise to back it up.
Emmet is hearing two languages – English and Kiswahili – so that could be the root of his slight delay. And maybe “advice-giving Kim” is right: kids progress at their own rate. In my heart of hearts I know that Emmet is bright and communicative and that his language “explosion” is right around the corner. So, maybe I’m just getting impatient waiting for it.
So, here’s to hoping the blogosphere will work it’s Murphy’s Law magic in which the moment I expose my worries, the cause of them disappears, making me look needlessly neurotic. And… “publish.”