First let me preface this by saying I am going to brag about my daughter here. I am going to unabashedly tell you how she is incredibly verbal and has an astonishing grasp of language for her age. Before you roll your eyes at my first-time-momness, know I also have a little perspective. I have been teaching kids age 18 months-5 years for a long time now, so I do understand that being verbal doesn't mean she is advanced...just verbal. I know that just because she can talk a blue streak doesn't mean she is smarter or better than any of the other kids her age. I am not planning on getting "Your Baby Can Read!" or "The Great Speeches of William Shakespeare, Toddler Edition" (I am sure someone makes this product) and drilling rote memorization into her sponge-like little noggin. I am trying very hard NOT to be one of those "Montgomery County Power Moms" I often rolled my eyes at when I was teaching my mommy and me classes.
MoCoPower Mom: Junior 7 months old. He is very advanced. He needs such and such, so his Nanny here will be with him during this class while I set up his Mandarin lessons for next session. To which Nanny will accompany him as well.
MoCoPower Mom: Please don't use "um" in front of him. I believe it stunts his linguistic develoment.
Me: Sure. Your son spit up on your briefcase.
MoCoPower Mom: See how smart he is!
Montgomery County is full of very competitive mommies. I really don't want to be one of them. I personally think Lucy is so verbal because Kevin and I are home together a lot during the day, so she is exposed to more adult conversation than many toddlers are. Anyway, here ends the disclaimer.
Lucy has an amazing vocabulary. I thought I was just being a typical "my child is so smart" kind of mom. I mean, I know she is an early talker and would be considered very verbal for her age, but I recently taught a class full of 2-and-a-half year-olds that didn't have as many words as Lucy does at 21 months. I feel like it is a real privilege to have such a clear window in her mind this early. She'll be staring off in space, looking positively dejected, when suddenly she'll turn to me and say "Rode the carousel! Horsies went up and down! And zebra!" So she wasn't sad or scared or worried at all - just really thinking about that carousel ride. It is incredibly cool.
She fearlessly grapples with words like "calendula" and "helicopter", and 9 times out of 10 coming out with a perfectly respectable and understandable version of these words. Sometimes she gets a long word perfectly the first time - which is always pretty amazing - but then any other time she tries it is comes out like a mouthful of mashed potatoes - which is always pretty cute. Calendula turned into "Angela" and then "calandrela..la..la". Helicopter is now "heh-copter". She'll be halfway through a completely intelligible sentence only to have it devolve into gibberish halfway through and then come out clear again at the end - like her mouth couldn't keep up with brain ("Lucy wants to eat spagelti grushitmut bybye the doggie?"). But by and large, she is fairly understandable and talks in semi-complete sentences almost all the time. She climbs the stairs to the slide and says "Up the stairs, down the slide. Here goes Lucy!" Lucy looked at my husband this morning and said "Daddy is a peanut." Kevin said "I am?" Then she replied "Lucy is a peanut, too." She picks a tomato off the vine and say "Tiny tomato is green! Lucy holdin' it." (this, despite the dozens of times I have told her that we wait till the tomatoes are RED before we pick them. This little tomato picker is doing more damage to my garden than the bleeping chipmunks).
The other day, I listened to her conversation with Elmo in the back seat as we drove home from the park. It was quiet, then I hear "Want cookies." I asked "You want cookies?" More quiet. "ELMO, you want cookies? Yeah?" The subtext was clearly, "Mama, I am not talking to YOU." Then she went on, "You have a poopy butt? Change the butt, Elmo? Yeah?" Then she erupted in giggles and squeals and gibberish that had me in stitches the rest of the ride home.
Of course, this "advanced vocabulary" doesn't mean that she has a perfect grasp on language. I will hear her talking to her her stuffed animals, giving a running commentary on what she is doing. "Eating the kitty. Banana?" ("The kitty is eating. Would you like a banana?") "Sitting the mouse? Chair, mousie?" ("The mouse is sitting. Want a chair?") "Change diaper. On the floor. Elmo, change the butt!" ("Let's change Elmo's diaper on the floor!" The unfortunate phrase "Change the butt" is something she picked up from us before we realized how closely she was listening).
She is currently trying out the use of pronouns. This is incredibly cute, because she simply doesn't understand them, but hears Mama and Daddy using them all the time. So using all 21 months of deductive reasoning skills, she applies them as they seem to make sense. I can't tell you then number of times I have stood at the top of the stairs when her hands are full and say "Do you want me to carry you down the stairs?" So now, instead of waiting for me to ask, she'll look at her arms full of stuffed animals and say "Carry you? Yeah?". She says things like "You want cookies." I'll say "No, I don't want cookies". To which she'll repeat "You want cookies. PLEASE!" Oh, YOU want cookies, I see. Sometimes she'll start to squeal in frustration and say "HELP!!" and then whatever she is doing suddenly goes her way and she says triumphantly "You got it!". It took me a few times of her saying this to realize that she thinks "YOU" is another name for "Lucy". I will also frequently ask her "Do you want to come with me upstairs or wait down here?" This morning I came back from the gym and said "I'm going to go take a shower". Lucy comes running up to the gate and says "Come with me!" So my name is "Mama", but it must also be "me", since I frequently refer to myself as "me". She randomly applies "he" and "she", with no apparent rhyme or reason. She looked at a picture of Abraham Lincoln and said "She's sad. Give hugs and kisses." Then she proceeded to hug and kiss the picture of Abe Lincoln. I sometimes wonder if I should correct her, but then I remember that most children don't start to use pronouns at all until they are 2 years old.
She's advanced and all ;-)