When I first got to know that I’m carrying life within me, it was more a concept than something concrete I could touch and feel. But only until the little baby grew big and strong enough to start kicking me from within. That was the first time we had a ‘conversation’. If he was feeling restless, he kicked. If I was excited, he too, squirmed. If I lay down quietly for a while, he danced around inside to let me know how he was doing.
When he came out into this world, I was often frustrated at my inability to understand him and his inability to communicate. But I learnt quickly that he was indeed communicating, with his wails and cries! Each pitch had its own meaning; it was I who needed to interpret them.
The next stage came when my little one evolved to gestures. I still remember the joy of seeing his first smiles, feeling his arm curl around me in a baby hug and the way my heart overflowed with love at his laughter. He then progressed to single words, “Papa”, “Mamma”, “Ball”, “Rabbit”, “Sleep”. We delighted in that achievement too.
But nothing compares to what we are seeing now. For the first time, he is communicating with us in words and sentences. “Papa, be careful!” he says if Papa is standing on a stool to get something done. “Mumma, are you okay?” he asks with concern if I stumble into something. “Avi wants drinking water,” he asserts when he’s thirsty. And even “Mumma, look at that, Avi’s bulldozer goes Beep Beep Beep”!
His remarks are so apt as per the situation that many times my husband and I exchange impressed looks.
“Did you teach him that?” we ask each other.
“No!” comes the answer.
That is when I realize that all these months, he had been listening to us and assimilating and learning. He couldn’t articulate his thoughts then, but he had them in his head.
“Name it!” Mommy Blogger Josephine Peterson says in 18-24 Months: Recommended Toddler Play Activities on ThinkBaby. Label everything for your little one, tell them what you’re doing, sing songs all day and read to them whenever you can. I have followed that tip religiously since my baby was just a few months old and sure enough, my baby kept surprising us with the range of his vocabulary.
It is with great pride I hear him sing songs I’ve been singing to him since he was an infant. It is thrilling to hear him give a running commentary about what he’s doing. I just love it when he walks up to me with a book and says, “Mumma, read book!” Even if he does that twenty times in the day. These are all ways in which he is building up his mental dictionary. They enable him to articulate his needs.
He still breaks down at times, and resorts to crying. I stop him then, saying, “Avi, I know you can tell me what is bothering you. Talk to me.” He calms down and makes the effort of explaining himself with his limited vocabulary. It empowers him and it makes parenting so much easier when I know what exactly is bothering him or what it is he needs.
I love that I can ask him what he wants to eat and he replies, “Peanut butter sandwich.” I love that I can ask him if he needs to pee and he says yes or no. I love that if I’m in the kitchen and he comes crying to me because he got hurt while playing, he can tell me where he got hurt and how. I love that I can talk to him and he can talk back to me.
I end with a simple message, ‘Open communication lines early by talking to your baby, no matter how small she is. And when she starts talking back to you, listen.’
What power there is in words!
Give your child that power.
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Piyushi Dhir is the author of 'In Search of Love', 'I'm Yours, The Next Time', 'Silent Promises' and 'Enmeshed Evermore'. She is a contributor in 'Nineteen Tales of COVID-19', a collection of short stories. A voracious reader, a keen traveler, a businesswoman and a mom, Piyushi currently resides in Canada. A nomad at heart, she loves to discover new places and capture the hues of life with her pen.