Silent Bob Speaks


Natalie has always been the strong, silent type. Not that she’s quiet, mind you: she gets her point across VERY clearly with gestures (both pointing and a few ASL signs), tantrums, and a handful of words.

And I’ve gotten VERY good at interpreting what “buh-buh” means, which is her go-to “word” for everything. Depending on the situation it could mean she wants to eat blueberries, watch Sesame Street, play with my keys, or have me uncap her markers.

It’s quite versatile.

She’s juuuuuuust barely squeaked by with the minimum number of words for her age at her last two checkups (7-10 words at 18 months), if you also count signs. Which we totally are, because, why not?

Much to my surprise, I’m actually NOT freaking out about this. I haven’t been googling “toddler speech delays” or “how to encourage language development” or anything like that. I’m not concerned, mostly because even though Silent Bob isn’t really speaking, she has no problem communicating.

(Here’s a really great post with more information about the difference between speech and language.)

That being said, I think we’re teetering on the edge of a language explosion.

She’s making new sounds that we haven’t heard before, and making much more of an effort to imitate what we say. Up until a few weeks ago, any attempt to get her to repeat after us, with the exception of a few softballs like “mama” and “dada,” were met with a confident “buh-buh.”

Cat? Buh-buh.

Doggie? Buh-buh.

Banana? Buh-buh (although that one’s pretty close). You get the idea.

She’s trying a lot harder now, and using more sounds to get her point across instead of just screeching and crying. Which, to be honest, is really not any more effective, since most of the time we have absolutely no clue what she’s trying to say.

She has also learned a single new word, a word that changes everything, a word that I wish she could unlearn for a few more years.

That word is NO.

The concept of “no” is not new to her. She’s been shaking her head and saying “Ehhhhhh” if we offer a food she’s not interested in, or try to read a book that isn’t her first choice. But up until this week she hasn’t been able to say the word.

Now she can.

Sort of.

For some reason, she pronounces it with an “m” sound instead of “n.”

I took her grocery shopping last Friday, which happened to be the first day of using her shiny new word. She was in rare form. She wanted to hold everything: my keys, the shopping list, and my pen. She also wanted to draw on everything, including herself, and eat the pen. And whenever I tried to take those things away from her she fought me tooth and nail, quite literally.

These 10-second battles ended every single time with her flinging her arms out to the side, vigorously shaking her head, and bellowing, “MO! MO! MO!” as she dropped everything over the side of the cart.

Oh, child. It’s a good thing you’re so cute.

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