People are blown away by my son Danny’s verbal acumen. He chose to talk at an early age and hasn’t stopped since. At his 18-month checkup, his pediatrician asked how many words he knew and all I could say was, “A lot!”
A year later, Danny is as articulate and eloquent as a six year old. As a two and a half-year-old Will Shortz, words are his thing.
People often ask how Danny learned to talk so well and my response is that since he was in utero I’ve sung, talked to and read to him daily. Sometimes Danny’s success is credited to the fact that I’m a teacher (now a stay-at-home mom), but I reject that notion.
Danny lives in a print and word-rich environment. He acquired his vocabulary and ability to converse because almost every adult that encounters him speaks to him directly. There’s no need for me to intervene. One of his new favorite responses to questions is, “I don’t know,” but when probed further he’ll answer appropriately. It’s amazing how early kids learn the path of least resistance.
Early in Danny’s learning stages he recognized that my wife, Jen, and I used the terms “this” and “that” as substitutes for the names of things. We often asked him, “What’s this?” or “What’s that?” It was then that our precocious and sweet Dannyboy adorably applied these terms to us, addressing me as, “This Mama” and Jen as “That Mama.”
What else did we expect from him? He has two moms and he needed a way to differentiate between the two of us. We told ourselves, friends and even the strangers who asked us that he would call us whatever he wanted—we weren’t going to force titles. We had wanted him to figure it out and he did!
Jen and I have settled into our names, but hearing Danny use them still makes me smile.
Danny: “That Mama, where are you going?”
Jen: “To work.”
Danny: “Oh. Sorry, Charlie.”
Or Danny trying for a third cookie after I tell him no, “I wasn’t talking to you. I was talking to That Mama. Can I have a cookie?”
One night I arrived home and overheard Jen say, “This Mama is home. I’m going to call her upstairs. This Mama, we’re in bed!”
My family has a way with words all right, but my favorites will always be “I love you.”