“Yes, in the dream he said potato.”
“Why did he say that? What does it mean–potato?”
“I don’t know.”
“Did he say anything else.”
“No, just po-ta-to.”
We have been waiting patiently for the first word. We assume it will be Da-da, but I suppose it could be anything. Though I don’t think he will be uttering three syllable words like potato right off the bat.
One of his doctors noted in his records that he was “suspect in the language domain,” having voiced her concern that he was not yet saying words. She recommended reading to him (see entry Little Worm). I was a little annoyed since she had just said not five minutes earlier that we had to look at his development not in terms of his actual age but in terms of his gestational age, having not been born at full-term. I wasn’t concerned since his physical therapist had indicated that he was progressing at lightening speed. She said that in the two months she had seen him, he had achieved six months worth of development.
Like most parents we try to hear things in the sounds he makes.
“Did he just…did you just hear….he just said crayon?”
“Go on say it again so Daddy can hear, come on, just one more time. I swear he said it.”
We realized last week that he was actually saying his first word. It just wasn’t in the manner we were expecting. Our son likes to complain. He will babble but in a complaining way–usually something like “na-na-na-na-na.” And if that doesn’t work he will start wailing. We had always hoped that he would call us by our names, Daddy, Dada, something like that. Instead his first word or maybe it is more like a run of syllables, turned out to be a similar utterance but more in distress. Usually it’s because he’s hungry or wants to be rescued from his crib. His little brows furrow, he puts on his saddest frown and out comes the whimpy little “Da-da-da-da-da-da.”
We recognized for the first time that when he is very distressed he tends to be more articulate. Like last night when he awoke at 2:00AM and could not be helped back to sleep. We too exhausted dads took turns making him lie down in the crib, to which he would respond with a few whimpers, some tears, some na-na-na-nas as he grasped the slats of the crib and pulled himself up. Then comes a very clear “Da-da,” though it is accompanied by crying-over what, we couldn’t say and neither could he. We were trying to be consistent and clear with him that it was time for nightie-nightie (yes, there are times when we use baby talk to communicate with him). Each time he got up he would use the Da-da word, urgently, fervently, as if his life depended on it. At times it was hard to hear him call for us and not want to come over to the crib where he was standing with his little arms lifted and scoop him up. But we were trying to be good parents so I didn’t give in.
So the little potato has his first word. Da-da. I guess it is good to know that for now when he is really desperate he has the word he needs to call for us. There is nothing like being called Da-da. It feels like I thought it would. While it isn’t potato–which would be an amazing thing–it is really nice to finally hear. To find out how the battle finally ended see Darrow’s post–Dumb Daddies.