F has officially made her entrance into language.
We were all in the car last week. I was teasingly telling M and LP off, because they still call her “bébé” all the time. “She’s not a baby anymore!” I said. How long are you going to call her that for?” So I turned to her, and asked: “Are you a baby?”
And for the first time, she replied. With a resounding, wonderful, mischievous: “Noooooonnnn!”We all burst out laughing. I couldn’t stop there, this was way too fun. “And is LP a baby?” “Non!”, she answered, aware that this was a silly question but wanting to play along. “Is mommy a baby?” This little game continued until we got home. She was answering questions. She was part of the conversation, part of the game!
Since then, her progress has been phenomenal. Up until that moment, she had around 20 or so words. But now, she's been steadily adding at least 3 or 4 new ones each day. This delights her brother. “What is that?”, he says, pointing to a kitchen stool. “Chaise!” (chair!), she answers confidently, smiling. Then he turns to me: “Mom, that’s not exactly it, but let’s pretend it is, OK? It’s very close. She’s good!”, he roots for her, as if I needed convincing.
She has a new song too, “Toc-toc-toc, pique-pique-pique, roule-roule-roule”, which sounds adorable in her gibberish-like pronunciation, and which is accompanied by hand gestures (knocking, pretending to prick your hand with a finger, making a rolling motion with your wrists) and is then finished by throwing both her arms in the air and saying “ou-pi!” (Youppi, or “Hurray!”)
That stage when everything suddenly clicks is just incredible. It’s not just that they become talkers within a matter of literally a couple days, but it’s also that… they get it. They understand. The world for them is not based on feelings and abstractions, anymore. For the past few weeks, she’s just been so… alert, so…kid-like. When they start talking, it also means that they have realized what the words mean. They recognize that some sentences are interrogative, due to a certain form and a certain tone, and they know that these sentences require answers from them. As long as it’s a yes/no question (her “oui” sounds like “hé” or sometimes even "aille" like she's Irish) I can ask her things now: did she have a good day, did she enjoy her lunch, is she thirsty, does she have a boo-boo? 18 months ago, she was still in my womb! Pretty unbelievable, when you think of it.
Last night after dinner, we all got up to start putting away the dishes and left her alone in the dining room for a few minutes. When I came back, I asked, rather rhetorically: “Are you done with your meal?” But she said, with surprising authority for such a tiny, 23-pound human being: “Non. Assis.” (No. Sit down.) So I did. And she had one more bowl of vegetable fried rice.