a language journey

Dear E-R,

17 August 2006
You will be three months old tomorrow and you’re beginning to vocalise in ways other than crying! T2 aptly described your new noises recently as “squeaking”.
You smile freely and just this week have started kicking your legs in excitement when we go in to you after a nap. You are communicating.

You also communicate your need to “use the toilet” – you tense up and grunt a little before pushing. So we are able to respond to your communication and hold you out over the toilet, resulting in very few dirty nappies! Often when you wake from a nap you are dry and so we anticipate your need and hold you out then – sometimes I am surprised at just how much a little bladder can hold!

As a newborn baby you have not cried much – indeed you have had little need to. In the first four days you were hungry and did cry a fair amount, but once we started supplementing with formula (sigh – just like all the other kids) you became very content. When we notice you stirring and looking for a feed I have been happy to feed you. You slotted yourself into somewhat of a routine, only waking once in the night and sleeping eight to twelve hours by eight weeks. Once you started sleeping longer at night, I began waking you three-hourly during the day to keep your tummy filled up.
Just this week you have started communicating with us about breastfeeding in the evening by screaming and back-arching and refusing to latch on. As I have supply problems, it is not surprising that at some point you would favour the bottle.

Motivation for writing this
• Something special for number eight baby!
• An interest in language development, especially in light of the other children’s experiences

Things I might cover
• First words
• Jokes/emerging/developing humour
• How words are used…and tone
• Facial expressions
• Foreign language
• Spoken, written – purposes
• Relationship with books (how used, favourites)

19th August 2006

You have been chuckling for about a week – just little chuckles, mainly when drawing in a breath. Then last night you giggled and giggled when I tickled you. Tonight all the children were laughing raucously at the dinner table and when all went quiet you laughed too.

This afternoon J11 sat you up in the highchair while she cooked dinner and gave you a book to look at. You stared intently at it for quite some time.

21 September 2006 (4 months)
* a real chuckle when tickled now * a tongue clicking noise * a “chattering”

10 October 2006 (4 ½ months)
Yesterday you smiled over and over as we read “Ten Apples Up On Top”. You were obviously enjoying the rhythm of the text. Then you stared intently at the final two double page spreads. This morning she looked just as intently at the memory verse book as we were reciting. You added to the general hubbub with your own vocalisations too!

26 October 2006
The other day J10 blew raspberries at you and you copied back….over and over and over!

You also had a lovely snuggle on J10’s knee while he read…and it looks like you were reading too!

You’re really experimenting with your mouth – just last night you were sitting in your carseat mouthing your hanging patchwork heart for about quarter of an hour:

Monday 30 October 2006

J12 just read you a whole lot of poems from “Lavender’s Blue”.
You sat perfectly still on her knee, intently watching the pages, listening to the rhymes, feeling the rhythm.
Apart from “round and round the garden”, these were probably your first poems.

Sunday 26 November 2006

A few weeks back you were sitting on Grandpa’s knee in the dining room. I walked in with your bottle, realised it was too cold and wandered back to the kitchen to heat it up. Oh the protest!

Now, when you have finished, you push your bottle away! COMMUNICATING.

Your tongue experimentation continues….it often pokes out, a little itsy bitsy pointy tongue. Very cute! You are also learning to use it to eat – this is taking some getting used to.

Monday 12 February 2007
When you’ve finished eating you flap your arms and push us away. But if you want more you cry out heartily! We’ve been teaching you to sign “More please” for a few weeks and you’ve done it yourself a few times in the past couple of days. When we take your hands through the motions you stop crying and smile!
You also smile when we say the word, “bottle”.

You’ve been learning “gentle”. You love to poke eyes and nostrils and pull hair and noses!

When we put you down to bed, you sometimes cry for about three seconds and then happily suck your thumb and smile.

You’ve been grunting and groaning and making all sorts of guttural noises.

When the children say “Ah” to you, you repeat it back – this is a favourite game right now, because you are so predictable with it!

You’re experimenting with lots of different sounds – first consonants are emerging – b, m, d.

You’ve started waving goodbye – but only after you have left the person you should be waving to!
You’ve clapped a few times, but probably not enough to say “you can clap now”
You’ve developed your pincer grip – which, like the clapping, is not strictly communication, but that little finger will become a “pointing finger” soon enough and WILL be communication. Clapping will become “YAY, well done”.

11 April 2008
Whatever happened? I forgot to write!

You can talk now. You mimic everything, including memory verses. You sing – as you play, when you go to sleep, when you put your baby to sleep, with the family.
You put three, four, five words together. You name everything. You’ve just got the hang of a few personal pronouns, the most important of which is “me” meaning mine.

You have a special name for each sibling: Lala, Iah, Ly-lil, Eeshee, Vivi, Icki, Essa and when you look at yourself in the mirror you say “Ose”. Until recently that baby in the mirror was “Bubba”.

You have made a big jump from screaming when anything goes wrong to saying, “Pees helpee”. Instead of screaming when you want to get down from the highchair or when you’re in the wrap and we’re out walking, you now ask politely, “Up-peese” in a very gentle voice.

13 June 2008
Just before you turned two, yous tarted copying us giving thanks at the meal table.

thankyou aku
for for
our fow-er
breakfast e-ist (or unch or da for dinner)
Within a week you would say “for” as soon as we said thank you!

Now, at nearly 23 months your speech is flying along. “Help me please Mama” * “Dadda at work now” (now being one of your most recent words) * “T4 is cwying”

You are also LOVING storytime. When we sing/read Ten in the Bed by Penny Dale you sing along. When we read Peepo (or Peeko as you say it), you join in. You point to things in books and chat about them. You tell the story if noone else will read to you.

May 2009 (nearly 3)
I forgot about this little record….we have been travelling for the last seven months. Wherever we go, you end up saying “hello” in the local lingo and sometimes “thank you” as well. In Thailand and Laos you would press your hands together as they do, more than just verbal communication. It has been interesting to see how you speak a foreign language more readily to strangers than you speak English! When we got to Vietnam (after a month in Cambodia), you continued using the Khmer greeting to anyone non-white for a week until we taught you the Vietnamese – but you never considered saying “Hello”!
Your play has included lots of foreign language input….whenever money is involved you say “Twenty baht”. In fact, you had a little game going that the older children would ask, “How much?” (in Lao) and you would predictably answer, “Twenty baht” (never mind that it was the wrong currency for that country!)

Just yesterday I noticed a couple of times that you have a funny word order. Sure, we’re in Germany, but I’m sure it’s not the Germans’ fault….you said, “Please may I it put up” and one other similarly germanically mixed-up verb construction. Interesting. Cute even.

July 2010
We returned to New Zealand six months ago. We returned to book-laden shelves. To be honest, I had been concerend at you missing out on hours of picture books every day for over a year….and in the first days home my fears were given cause to exist! You did not even know which way to hold the book. You had forgotten that books tell stories. You were not overly impressed at the illustrations. But we got piles of books out every day, and insisted you sit with us as we read through our stacks, reconnecting with old favourites. Within a week you were hooked. Within a month you were sitting for long periods on your own looking at books. Soon after you could be heard “telling” stories, and right now you love to “read” the stories to us, espeically We’re Going On A Bear Hunt and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Now this last book is very interesting – when your older siblings were young, they all learnt it off by heart at about age two. Frequent reading meant it was never forgotten. You, on the other hand, as an almost-four-year-old approached it quite differently. From the first reading post-trip you loved it. You came back to it time and again and it was the first book you started retelling to us. Most fascinating to me is that you would “read” that he ate through one apple but he was still hungry. So far so good. Then you would turn the page and repeat that he ate through one apple and two pears….and so on! You very clearly were not seeing the backs of the fruit as the same one that had been on the previous page. This has been going on for six months now, despite me reading it to you “correctly”.

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