Yesterday I had the first conversation with my daughter. It went like this:
Me: ‘Anya, it is time to go out, now’
Anya is super excited, smiles and bounces up and down.
Mom puts on Ergo and pulls baby into carrier.
Baby: ‘Aa-Aa’ (her word for dog – ão-ão means woof woof in Portuguese)
Mom: ‘Oh, you want to go see the doggy, when we are out? Sorry, right now we are going to the car. We can go visit the doggy on our way back.’
Sweetest thing ever. She knows that we are going out and knows that out there is the dog she loves to go see and, most exciting of all, she is now able to tell me (ahead of time, note) that is what she wants to do. Man, I love her so much!
We are having more and more of these incipient dialogues. She has ‘asked me’ for food (her word for food is ‘mmm’) in the car. Today she asked for water (‘aia’ – Anya’s attempt at ‘agua’). So sweet. Add to this her signs and we are definitely away. She signs ‘more’ with great enthusiasm when she wants me to read the book again or sing a song again (she likes my voice, bless her) or to bounce her on the ball again. So cool!
She now has a vocab (yeah, I am calling it that!) of about 30 ‘words’. She has over 20 signs and nearly ten verbal words – mostly sounds like ‘blah-blah’ for phone (my personal favourite) or rrrrrrrrrr (which stands in for ‘vroom-vroom’ for tractor or car. But it is clear, verifiable and repeatable that she uses those sounds for those objects or actions, so they count :)
Here is the flip-side, though. When she started using signs that were not just descriptive (like duck) but also prescriptive, if you will, like ‘milk’ or ‘all done’ I noticed she started having more tantrums. I checked with other mums and quite a few remember experiencing the same thing: more signs = more tantrums, at the start. This is what I put it down to: I reckon she got a taste for power. With first words and the ability to say what she wanted came Anya’s first realisation that she could ask for what she wanted and with that an expectation that she would get it (’cause at the start, she often did). She was developing a sense of self, an ego or an identity are forming. She realises she is a separate being with separate wants … and with that came demands for her wants to be met. She communicates that through not so cute screaming with occasional back arching. This was mostly about expressing her will: ‘I want to go to the swings’; ‘I don’t want to get into the car seat’, that kind of thing.
I have so far mostly dealt with it by, well, ignoring it. This was the best momma advice I got on the subject. Nobody had much else to offer on the subject. I guess the main thing is to be clear that screaming does not get you what you want nor does it get you more attention.
So far… so far it seems to be a little better. Meanwhile, I got over the ‘I don’t want to get in the car thing’ by giving her a treat once she sat compliantly in the seat (yep, bribes – another piece of mommy advice gold). I just had to do that a couple of times and now she has made friends with the seat again. Phew (otherwise I’d be virtually housebound). Nobody told me the terrible twos actually start at ten months (or perhaps around 15 months when non-signing babies get first prescriptive/request-oriented words?)!
But, overall, more language means more fun, more communication and exchange and I am really enjoying finding out about what Anya gets, what she likes and what she wants and I am ready (or getting ready…) to show her where the limits, the boundaries to her new powers lie. Mommyhood, real mommyhood, here I come.