“Peeper, can you say ‘dada’?” We were driving to Woods Memorial Park for a family walk recently, and I could hear our little one playing in the back seat.
“Dadadadadadada,” she replied, pulling off one sock.
“Good job! Peeper, can you say ‘mama’?”
Despite her continuing refusal to say mama, in the last month she has come so far in learning to express herself.
At 11 months old, Peeper isn’t saying a lot of words—she’s still sticking to “dog” and “dada”—but she finds other ways to make her will known.
She’s become a champ at signing “more,” and “milk” and “eat.” Occasionally she’ll sign “all done,” “book” and “bath” as well, and she’s working on “dog” and a few others.
I nearly fell out of my chair the first time she signed “milk.” My daughter was able to clearly communicate what she wanted without any prompting for me. After months of crying or the frustrated fish flop tantrums when she doesn’t get what she wants, she can tell us what she wants. The best part: When I acknowledge her (“Oh, you want some milk?”), she laughs. She loves communicating, too!
The other day I was at the café working and Eric was reading a book to Peeper. He turned the page and the two of them were looking at a picture of a mom and a baby together. Peeper pointed at the mother, then the child, signed milk and started to cry. Thankfully I was already on my way home!
When we read books, we offer her choices. She points elsewhere if neither one is the book she’s after, and her excited inhalation lets us know we’ve come across the right one.
Peeper is also expressing herself through movement. She has taken to looking at us through her legs in a downward dog move, which prompts me to get in a yoga pose of my own. We stretch together and make upside-down faces at each other.
The last month also brought Peeper’s first dance. I had turned on Pandora and she was busy pulling DVDs out of the bin. And like magic—no, like the most natural thing in the world—she started to move to the music. The best part: her gettin’ low and wiggling her but on the ground. Kid’s got moves!
This has also been a busy time—hence my posting this two weeks after she turned 11 months—but I am grateful for Peeper encouraging me to slow down. On the one hand she’s constantly in motion and is beginning to walk, so she’s never been quite so mobile. Yet she also grabs a book and brings it to me, asking for a cuddle and a quiet pause to flip through photo albums or a board book. Now that she can sign milk, she asks for it not only when she’s hungry but also when she wants a still moment together. As she navigates between the two poles—frenetic activity and calm reprieve—she is learning to communicate her wants and needs. I just do my best to listen.