I mentioned Max's growing vocabulary...but I feel as though I sold it a bit short. This kid is adding sounds and words and sentences so fast that I don't even really notice it. That's weird, isn't it? But it's true.
With Evan, this language development was so different. Evan was a sign-language kid. He wasn't a babbler by any means--few coos and practice words, and little sound-play...although he did say "Buh" an awful lot-- but he communicated beautifully through signs and gestures. And his communication wasn't limited to need/want fulfillment, either. He knew signs for food, drinks, time of day, animals, trucks, elements of nature, and manners (please, thank you, I'm sorry, etc.). He was also a really great siren/motor noise maker. What more did a 1-2 year old kid need to say? So he was quiet. Really quiet. Until the summer after he turned two. We were at Barnes and Noble reading a book about trucks. I turned the page to reveal a full-color spread of the coolest truck of all: "Backhoe!" Evan said. I looked at him. "What did you say?" "Izza Backhoe," he repeated. He literally went from zero to full sentences. Apparently, I was the exact same way. Big surprise, right? Could this kid BE anymore like his mama?
But not my Maxwell. Maxwell is the Expert Babbling, Sound-Practicing, Word Play Beginning Talker. The thing is, the development is unfolding so before-my-eyes that I'm almost missing it.
Which is why I'm recording this story here.
Max has been exploring and experimenting with the word No for some time now. He's really become quite the little dissenter. About everything: Are you ready for breakfast? NO. (As he's walking toward the table and pulling out his chair.) Do you want to play GeoTrax? NO. (As he's putting his train on the tracks.) Let's go up for a nap. NO. (As he's putting his binky in his mouth and reaching up to be snuggled.)
And then, of course, there are the Defiant Nos. "No" repeated at an alarming decibel as I'm brushing his teeth, or putting on his shoes, or strapping him into his carseat, or trying to carry him across a parking lot.
The boy has had a LOT of practice with the word....
And so it wasn't much of a stretch to change that final vowel sound from /o/ to /ee/. Today at lunch, Max stood up abruptly in his seat and turned to look at me as I was preparing my own lunch at the counter behind him. "KNEES!" he shouted, hands on his knees. "That's right, babe, those are your knees!"
"KNEES! KNEES! KNEES!"
"Yup! Those are your knees!"
"KNEES! KNEES! KNEES! KNEES!"
"Uh-huh. Knees! Bend those knees!"
[bending knees] "Mama Dada KNEES!"
"Okay, yup. Mommy and Daddy have knees."
[pointing at Evan's knees] "KNEES! KNEES! KNEES!"
Evan: "Yes, Maxwell, I have knees, too," and then with just a hint of exasperation, "Everyone has knees."
And so it went throughout the rest of lunch. A fascinating, stimulating conversation about knees. And it didn't stop there. After lunch, Max found the baby doll's knees. The knees of the elephant in the book we read at naptime, and, in the next book, "No. No knees," as he pointed to a balloon.
And thus, a new word was added to his exploding vocabulary today.
And now he's sleeping off the excitement.
I can't wait to hear what word tomorrow brings.
And, that word looks very funny in all caps.