Ezra can say some words. He can say shoes, plane, and hi and bye. He says Dada pretty insistently and Mama less frequently. He’s been working hard on water (“waddo”) and banana (“beeya”), and with approximately 70% accuracy, he can tell you that a lion says “roar,” a sheep says “baa,” a cow says “moo,” a dog says “woof woof,” a cat says “meow,” and a snake says “ssssssss” (though that last one sounds more like “hhhhhhh.”) He sometimes humors me and says “baby” when I point at my belly and ask “what’s in there?” When Sandy took him to the zoo this weekend, he looked at some monkeys and proclaimed, “Bubbles!”
He’s also got a lot of tricks that require understanding but not speaking. He can point at his nose, ears, mouth, head, and belly, though occasionally he panics and chooses the wrong one. (Currently he defaults to the ears, because he’s figured out how cool it is that with his fingers in his ears everything sounds different.) He is unable to say no when commanded to kiss me, even pressing his lips to mine while sobbing through a tantrum. He wins over crowds with his adorable response to “take a bow.”
Since he’s not much of a talker, the explosion of his understanding of language and how it works is easy to overlook. But there are these little things that, when I really consider how complicated they are, begin to seem profound. Like, he not only understands what to do when I ask him to bring me his shoes, but he also understands that socks come first, and that we need two of each. That means he understands sequence, patterns, and something about numbers.
When we read books, he can respond to “bring me another book” and is starting to be able to say “again” (“geh”) as he grabs my hands to command me to read a favorite story for the third, fifth, eigth time.
He is increasingly choosy about books, and can tell the difference at a glance between No Biting, which he loves (though doesn’t quite take to heart as much as I’d wish), and Best-Ever Big Brother, which he seems to instinctively fear, though the art and layout of the books is incredibly similar. He will choose certain pages in certain books because he wants to see or hear something specific, and he has developed carefully choreographed responses to some of our favorite books. He’s still doing his hippo hug, and he now also has a set of Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes hand gesture, and a practiced routine of grabbing my finger and using it to point at pictures he wants me to identify — something that started with a specific book and quickly became a game. He’ll take my finger and point it at things all over the page, and then suddenly choose one of them and point me at it over and over again so it’s like he’s pressing a button on a toy. “Bird, bunny, girl, house…bunny, bunny, bunny, bunny, bunny, bunny.”
I am anxious for his speech to catch up to his understanding, a bit jealous sometimes when his highly verbal girlfriends order him around in complete two-and-three-word sentences. But I know it will come, and when it does it will be in an avalanche.