Tom is now fifteen months and is gradually beginning to say actual words, in amongst the sea of babbling. So far we have ‘goggy’ (doggy), ‘herro’ (hello) and ‘b-b’ (bye-bye). In addition to mama and dada of course. He used to say ducky too but seems to have stopped. Maybe duckies aren’t interesting now he has discovered trains.
It’s wonderful to think that, in the not-so-distant future, he will actually be able to have a conversation with us. Even just being able to tell us what he wants would be useful, instead of the random point-and-guess game we play a lot at the moment.
Having said that, it has been oddly restful spending time with someone who can’t yet talk. While I do the dutiful thing and chat to him a lot, there have been plenty of quiet moments where I haven’t felt the need to fill the silence with words. And Tom can make himself pretty well understood with gestures and expressions most of the time.
It also has helped me to cut down on using a phrase I hated hearing when I was a child; ‘What’s wrong?’ Obviously there is no point in asking, as he can’t tell me anyway. Instead, I have been learning to listen and watch before jumping in with words and questions. Once I think I know what the issue is, I might quietly say something like ‘you seem to be frustrated because you can’t get the blocks to stack’ (or whatever is appropriate to the situation). But sometimes it feels more natural to stay quiet and offer physical comfort or silent support, depending on what he seems to want from me.
We had a lovely moment in the park the other day. It had been a busy weekend and I think Tom was a bit overwhelmed by the parade of relatives he barely knows. So when we went out on Monday, he didn’t toddle off to play as he normally does. Instead, he asked to sit on my lap. We shared a long, quiet cuddle, both of us gazing out at the nature that surrounded us. Because we were outside, I wasn’t distracted by the chores or screens that call my attention away at home. I could just sit and give him my full focus. It was a wonderful moment of quiet connection. After about five minutes, he asked to get down and trotted off to investigate the green gym equipment, perfectly restored.
I just hope that when Tom is talking properly, I can still remember to watch, listen and stay quiet when he needs me too, instead of jumping in immediately with questions.