Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Expanding Vocabulary: Attack of The Mouth

Ever since the moment Grace was born, I have been excited to hear all of the things she would say one day. I still remember the moment I heard her say her first REAL word--we were eating supper at the kitchen table, Gracie was seated in her high chair, and when she dropped a piece of food on the floor, she looked at me and said, "Uh-oh." I remember the sensation of pure pride and satisfaction that my child had finally uttered her first intelligible expression, and she actually used it in the proper context!

Soon, I became very interested in her quickly expanding vocabulary. I began reading her books and asking her to repeat words after me. We watched countless hours of Baby Einstein flicks, so Grace could get a little more education everyday. I remember going to her monthly doctor's appointments that first year and filling her poor pediatrician with stories of all of Gracie's new words, and eagerly asking him if she was "on track" with her new words. Of course, she always was!

Now, she's speaking in full sentences. Every day it seems like she picks up a new word or phrase and that becomes her latest obsession. It's so wonderful to be able to ask her what she wants for dinner or what she did at day care today, and actually have her answer me. It's a mom's dream come true--my child can finally tell me when something hurts or if she's frightened or hungry or any multitude of things. The guesswork (well, most of it anyway) is taken out of the equation.

Of course, with this newfound treasure comes pitfalls. Grace has also learned to say things like, "Go away!" and "Naughty!" Certainly, in the appropriate situation these words are fitting, but when I go to give Grace a hug or a kiss at the end of a long and stressful day, the last thing I want to hear is, "Go away Mom!" Poor Grandma gets the occasional disappointment of hearing, "No, go away!" when she's trying to help Grace get dressed. Words hurt, don't they? Who knew that along with the excitement and pride I feel, I would also recall with fondness the days when Grace didn't know how to reject me verbally?

Tonight as Grace and I were playing after I got home from work, she gave me a big bear hug for no apparent reason. I closed my eyes and savored the moment and then said, "I love you, Gracie." To my surprise, she shook her little head and said, "I love you, Mama." Maybe I will get used to this whole talking thing after all.