Because children tend to mimic what they see and hear, we adults have to be on our best behavior. Our kiddos may be small, but they have a large grasp of spoken language. The photo here shows our grandson Ethan trying to communicate with his Papaw Phillip, my hubby.
I'll never forget the night back in 1981 when Ethan's Mommy was about 10 months old...
Phillip and I were sitting at the table with Melissa in her high chair at the corner of the table. She liked sitting there between us and would often mumble and coo as if joining in the supper conversation.
But that night, my hubby and I had some type of misunderstanding and both of us were silent instead of talkative. We thought we had kept our feelings private, but there Melissa sat, looking back and forth between us, whining.
Her little brow was wrinkled, trying to figure out what was going on between Mommy and Daddy. She would whine to me, then turn and whine to her daddy, as if to plead, "Talk to each other!"
That's when we, as first-time parents, learned that even a very young child picks up on the tension between people in the family. They just know. They can also tell when things are going along just right in their little world, enabling them to relax in play or at rest.
Little people learn to communicate by listening and observing their parents and others. No surprise, then, that they one day start trying out the words they've heard. Words like "Hi ... bye-bye... peek-a-boo... okay .... thank you and Uh-oh!"
A few weeks back when we visited Melissa and her family, my hubby got down on the floor to play a little game with Ethan. Phillip was at one end of the coffee table with a little plastic car counting ONE, TWO, THREEeeee! and would then give the toy a quick push. As it rolled off the other end onto the floor, he would look at Ethan and say, Uh-Oh!
Ethan loved toddling around the table, grabbing the car and toddling back to Phillip. Then he'd grin as if to say, "Do that again!"
And Papaw Phillip didn't mind a bit. ONE, TWO, THREEeeee! Before he could say UH-OH!, Ethan was already starting around the table to snatch the car again. This went on for 30 minutes, at least.
No surprise, then, that one of Ethan's first words was "Uh-Oh!" He sounded so cute on the phone when they called to say "Listen to Ethan's new word, Papaw and Nana ..."
At first, all we could hear was him breathing into the phone -- a sweet enough sound -- so we waited, and waited and waited ...
Then he said "Uh oh" and his Papaw said it back to him. Melissa said Ethan was smiling real big at that point. Seconds later, his own little Uh-Oh! was repeated several times in a row. He varied the pitch and volume as if trying it out on his tongue and liking what he heard.
He didn't say "Nana" or "Papaw," but that's okay. "Uh-Oh!" is a perfectly good start to learning the language. It won't be long before our little guy will be repeating more and more words. I don't really care what he says when they call us. He can say "Uh-oh" all day long, and this Nana's heart will still sing!