It has been more than a few attempts and months since I had tried to evoke some meaningful syllables out of my about to be two-year old son. I am making the gender clear here because, I have had too many folks telling me that a son gets to speak late in his toddler lifespan and it must not be too much of a worry.
I really thought they were all being careless and have often wondered how one can ever start speaking all of a sudden without starting on monosyllables. I believe that anything as huge as talking, really is as intricate and time-sensitive as the orchestrated act of sowing and reaping. Like how the entire cycle of sowing to reaping takes time, and the patience to instill faith in the system, self-belief, hard work, and hope, everything in this world including a toddler's speech developments needs all those—time and the patience.
The problem with Ash is that, even though he has it in him, whenever he gets conscious of someone trying to make him repeat something, he goes on a strike with just the syllable that he uses for expressing disapproval—‘ahnn…’. And then, any attempts, however innovative they may be it stands annul!
In spite of that, I have paved success in my attempts to get him out of his world of four words: amma, appa, papa, and kaah (for car). The other day, we played this game of ‘On-Off’—this game of teaching him how to switch on and off the TV toggle button.
Just a few days ago, as part of his night bed-time ritual, I had taught him the names of his fingers—the little finger, thumb, et al, and he knew what his thumb meant.
This time, when I had asked to use his thumb to press the button, he was excited to recollect it and had also asked him to say 'o n' and say 'o f f' before I allowed him to touch the button—the conditional play.
Though this conditional play has been around for some time, in most of the cases, he is too reluctant to pursue his interests, how much ever alluring they are. For example, if he wants me to play a song on the mp3 player, I would insist him to say 'paattu' or at least say 'p a a'. One day, he finally settled down to saying paa, which was only asking him to go just halfway afar, now that he had anyway said 'papa'.
So getting back to the 'On-Off' story, we were just about to begin the on-off play, and I remembered to bother him again, harping on the conditional play and he attempted to say “onanon” for On and “aughvagh” for Off. Voila, he tried! And then, of course, he was so elated with the on-off play that he was grinning ear to ear!
And an hour later, I happened to go out to the market to run some errands and I took Ash along that meant to be a walk for him, though he did not budge to remove his cozily parked seat off my hips. It happens sometimes… this guy just does not bother to think about his feet!
And, while carrying him around, he is often too excited about something or the other on the busy main road and I acknowledge it by naming what he points at or if he gets too uncomfortably silent, I tend to start exclaiming things to get his interest back and by chance, I happened to see two boys standing in a bus stop, and happened to point Ash in their direction and show to him the ‘anna’ (elder brother) around there.
Now, wrt the word anna, he has been introduced to the word long ago with his cousin, Varun, having been around umpteen times. Whenever Ash sees Varun, Ash always chases him around the house and is all too fond of Varun ‘anna’ that Ash, though he is five to six years younger to himself, hits him with all his might and poor Varun stands all the pain, for the sweet fellow that he is.
Back to the bus stop scene—and as a hapless mother who wants to hear her son speak, I was only too greedy to ask him to say anna, and there he went... ‘a n n a’.
My God! So endearing it was; as if it was hearing a devotee beseech for something by saying his almighty's name. His anna is charming for one reason that when he says his ‘anna’, neither does he fold his tongue inwards, nor does he take the tip of his tongue to the root of his upper set of the teeth; he brings his teeth between his upper and lower set of the teeth.
By the way, all my other tries, subsequent to this major breakthrough, have been very depressing and in vain; a few such as trying to get ‘banana’ out of his mouth though he was successful in saying ‘bah’ for bus and ‘nana’ after the anna incident; and when he was trying to take his three-wheeled cycle outside the half-open door, I asked him to say oh-pen; and after bouts of disapproval, he said ‘oh’ and did not give in to saying pen! Another long-lasting try has been he being able to discretely say ‘papa’ and ‘yayaya’ and not ‘pa-paah-ya’.
But, I must say that this week has been a week of success, because, all these days, he had been pointing to the right picture when held and asked questions about which of the two is amma or appa. This week, I showed him the pictures and managed to make him say which of it ‘amma’ and ‘appa’. He seemed to enjoy the act as well.
Well, I wanted to tell myself this: Just because, I had borne a son, it does not mean that this blog must turn into an all-exclusive blog on my son’s growing up acts (now you get the point on how desperately, I have been trying to hold back the umpteen offline thoughts from being online); however, this post is an exception (at least, I hope it is). I want to think that this post is for people who would understand the pains of a growing mother who wants to desperately make her son say something meaningful and to who say that it is the problem of working mothers, that working mothers end up making their kids speechless. Of course, no matter what, there is always the ‘trying-hard’ part with anyone who has a kid!