Looks Moo’s (not) Talking

He’s back on his legs, and toddling happily again. First thing he did at the soft-play place yesterday? Hurtle straight over to the slide, and fling himself down it happily. I’m honestly not sure if we’re looking at a No Fear, No Memory, or No Sense issue here.

We dodged the Chicken Pox bullet by a single day – Harry’s little friend came out in his rash 3 days after we saw him. I then spent a day agonising over whether to take Harry round for a proper germ-contracting, seeing as his hip was on the mend. I reasoned that it would be better for him to have it early rather than later, and that we didn’t have much on in the next week or so. Surely it would be better to get it over and done with? He’d be bound to catch it the week he starts school, or the week we attempt to holiday otherwise.

But I just couldn’t do it, no matter how fast I talked at myself. It felt too calculated and clinical. And as it happened, it was the right call, as he promptly succumbed to an evil snotty cold. He was patently an utterly miserable little man yesterday evening, and it resulted last night in him being upgraded to our bed, Hubby being downgraded to a spare room, and me being thumped and kicked at regular intervals. Despite wanting to be cuddled to sleep in the Mummy-arms, he also wanted to throw himself violently about the bed at 30 minute intervals, holding his (obviously) aching head, and roar loudly about how crappity he felt. I was patient with him, as I generally feel much the same mid-cold. 

I was enormously relieved to still have boob-milk on tap, as feeding was the only thing that calmed him down sufficiently to let me Calpol him, and enable him to rest a little. I have been occasionally viewing this extended breast feeding as a bit of an albatross around my neck lately, but I was thankful for it last night.

*strikes portentous note*

We have made exciting new progress towards Speech this week, although without actually quite arriving at it. He has begun to moo. (The madness comes to us all sooner or later…)

I was showing him photos of cows on the net to amuse him,

Cow photo

and he suddenly made a lovely little ‘Mmmuurrrrrrrrrmmm!’ sound. I blinked a bit, processed his meaning, and then went nuts with praise. When he sees the photo-card, he now does his cow impression simultaneously with applauding himself enthusiastically, because hey! The parents are going crazy over there! I’m clever!

After all, an impression is nearly a word. Yes? It’s got to count as a nearly, surely…?

Interestingly, baby-book pictures don’t trigger a glimmer of recognition, only photos;

Usborne farm animals

perhaps he sees real bovines, ovines and tractors too much to recognise a drawn rendition. I have also spent months pointing at various real-life things and repeating their names, without them seeming to sink in very fast, either, until recently. This thought, combined with his emerging ‘point-at-the-item’ skills, got me thinking, and I printed out lots of different photos off the net, and arranged them into picture cards. He has spent the last two days on a crash-course of learning to point out diggers, tractors, cows, sheep, hens, cars and dogs: I arrange the cards in front of him and ask where the diggers are. He has a look, and stabs a finger towards the diggers. Mummy claps dementedly. Harry claps excitedly. Etc.

This afternoon, I felt as if a cloth had been unwound from my eyes. We went for our daily 4pm constitutional to feed the hens, and have a wander round the menagerie owned by our neighbours and ourselves. Usually this consists of Harry pulling insistently in one direction, whilst I have to cart him off, protesting, in another. Today was a revelation. We fed our hens, and then I asked him where the Sheepies were. He turned straight around and toddled up the drive towards the sheep field. After a little look at the ewes, I said we were going to see the other Henny-Hens! And bugger me sideways… he headed straight off towards the hens, holding my hand as happy as Larry. We then visited the geese, the dogs, more sheep, our hens, and my car, in a pre-announced tour.

I realise that parents of toddlers everywhere are shaking their heads and wondering why I’m so blown away by this. It’s just that it’s first ever time I’ve been able to verbally communicate a series of information to my 19 month old son. He understood me. Without any non-verbal clues, too. And… OMFG… the difference! There was no pulling, no struggling, no kicking and no frustration, despite his mucus-ridden, washed-out state. He simply toddled happily from one Learnt Named Item to another, following my words as opposed to my insistently-tugging arm. He suddenly felt like a much, much older little boy.

I know that he will talk now. I’m over worrying that the suspected CP has permanently damaged his brain’s ability to talk. He’s just on his own time-line with that first proper word – half a year or more behind most other kids, I know, but moving forwards. I feel that he has begun to tune into my words rather more in the last couple of weeks, and his walking has improved significantly with his new supportive boots, too, which has made me exceedingly cheerful.

Yet I’m still so desperate to hear his piping little voice speak to me. From the very moment I first saw him, I have felt Harry to be a tiny enigma. I am longing to have a deeper understanding and enjoyment of the emerging character of my son; to better interpret the – fierce! – wants and needs of this small person with the towering personality. There is so much within him to explore that only his words can properly open up. Our bond is already formed, but I ache to have the closer ties to him that only language can give us.  

I console myself: just as there was a blessing inherent in our difficulties to conceive, there is also a blessing in this speech delay. I will never take his chatter for granted, and will take a special joy in its arrival.

11 Responses

  1. Ann, that’s wonderful! I’m so glad. You seem so relieved, like a boulder rolled off your back today. And how fun! He seems to be a smart little stinker who was just holding back cause he knew what the real things were! Yaaaaaaaay, Harry!

  2. Definition of toddler word: you know it’s a word, he knows when to make it. Nothing more needed. ‘Tis an official word.

    I think he probably understands 30-50 words from your description and he’s probably around the 5th-10th percentile but frankly that’s fine for a preemie and we don’t actually have norms for the UK (until I get some money to collect them).

  3. Congratulations on a break through – for you, not Harry. I think that’s the hardest thing about being mom – having to come up with a different strategy when the unexpected crops up. Keep it in mind, as Harry is fast approaching 2…when alternative strategies are a daily necessity!

    And Moo is definitely a word. Most of the toddlers I’ve encountered started out with animal sounds well before they would actually consider words (well, maybe they’d ask for food occasionally).

  4. Chiming in to say that “mooo” is indeed a word. We count our daughter’s first word as “tuh.” Meaning, of course, our cat, who is named Turrie and who does things that incur a fair amount of yelling his name in an exasperated fashion.

  5. (“Here comes the sun/it’s been a long cold lonely winter” – I’m so glad you are feeling relief.)

    Congratulations on your first word, Harry. Murrrmmm is closer to what cows say than “moo,” isn’t it? A farmchild would know.

  6. What wonderful news. Communication.

    Harry will probably eventually discovere the dreaded ‘why’ you know 🙂



  7. Wow! Thats brilliant. I agree that it sounds like the biggest breakthough was with you. harry’s probably been watching you make animal noises to his picture books thinking you were mad and thats not what the animals who make those noises look like! 😉

  8. Oh, I am just so excited for you both! What great times. I look forward to reading about more breakthroughs as they happen. You guys are great.

  9. YAAAAAAYYYYY!! I don’t have a single other thing to say except for that shout of joy on your behalf. YAAAAYYYY!!!!


  10. And this is why we’ve been doing signs, as Tinkerbell’s speech is mostly indistinct. Once she started signing back and indicating an understanding of words as symbols for things, etc., I wrote down what I have evidence that she understands, and it’s more than 100 words. She can now sign something north of 30 different words, from practical (all done!) to the slightly less so (gorilla!) and much in between. Oh, what a relief. There’s a person in there! It’s like being an agnostic and seeing angels all of a sudden. Or eating chocolate cake without caloric repercussion. You know, miraculous.

  11. Yahoo!

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