Language development in a toddler is amazing to hear unfolding. Each day my daughter, Parker, is repeating new words, able to point to and identify new items, form somewhat recognizable statements, sing to the tune of songs and verbally respond to situations.
She is 20 months old now and growing rapidly in so many ways. She mimics gestures, uses wild facial expressions and easily communicates humor with everyone willing to interact. Parker has created some of her own terminology, as many toddlers do, like “baba” represents her pacifier and “wawa” is for water. “Ye-haw” is what you might hear in response to a sneeze or in place of a clear thank you.
One expression I have heard her using a lot lately has caused me to examine my own language usage – and no, I am not cursing
a lot around my daughter. It has been comical to observe her with her pretend phone conversations. Anything to a Parker represents a phone – an ipod, calculator, remote control, pad of paper etc. Over a year ago she pretty much became motivated to crawl when a cell phone was dangled in front of her to reach for. Let’s just say the allure of a phone is present and she loves pretending to talk on it.
Her baby babble often follows a clear “hi” and at some point she abruptly ends the conversation with a clear “bye.” Within the last week there have been pauses between the indistinguishable babble for an “Ummm” thought pause. Now it seems every phone call she takes contains the hi, the bye and several umm’s.
Now I understand I am not the only individual she encounters who may use “umm” to pause and prepare words. As her primary adult interaction, and the individual she most often listens to and likely observes on the phone – I gather she may have learned this un-word from me.
My daughter is constantly a source of inspiration. This week she has inspired me to be more mindful of pausing silently rather then filling the space with an “ummm.”