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Time is On My Side

Baby Talk

Jacqueline Fennington
MSN Class of 2010

(3/2012) Communication is one of lifeís most vital necessities. It is the bridge between two people in every marriage, the essence of a classroom and workplace. Authors communicate their imaginations through fictional stories. Politicians communicate their views and beliefs through campaign messages. A deaf child communicates through sign language. Animals communicate with actions. And the list goes on and on. The outlets of communication Ė books, music, television, conversation Ė and ways of communicating Ė language, body language, sign language, actions Ė are unlimited. The amazing part about communication is that we can understand each other through many different ways of communicating that do not even involve the most basic tool Ė speech.

Everyone knows it Ė the key to any good relationship is quality communication. In order for a relationship to work and grow, we must be able to communicate our thoughts with each other through words and/or actions. I do not know the science or studies behind communication and humans and animals learning it, but I do see it in my own experiences and relationships. Aside from my relationships that involve talking, watching a baby learn and develop from day one is the most amazing "study" I will ever experience.

It starts with crying. Babies cry when they want something because crying is the only way they know how to communicate. Then they progress to developing more body language and making sounds. Though Lucy does not say any words yet, I feel like I completely understand her and her desires. Luckily, she is pretty simple and sticks to the four main desires Ė food, sleep, bathroom and play. I may not be such a pro at understanding her when she adds more to the mix.

My in-laws always point out that Lucy never cries and if she does itís only for a brief second because I run to her rescue with a bottle, diaper or toy. Itís not that I spoil Lucy and never let her cry, I just know that if she makes a little whimper she is trying to tell me something. "Ma, the bottle! Pronto!" is most likely what she would say if she could talk. She has a bit of sass to her.

Her sassiness also shines through with her body language when she gives you "the eyebrows" as we call it. I almost donít even know how to explain it because itís oh so different from the standard eyebrow raise. "The eyebrows" is when Lucy furrows her brow and looks at you as if you just said the most ridiculous thing she ever heard. She might even let out a little sigh as if to say, "Thatís just preposterous." We could write an entire book about the funny expressions Lucy says with her eyebrows. Not only does that give you an idea of how animated Lucy is, but also alludes to how crazy her parents are. Yes, we literally just spend time watching Lucyís funny expressions and making up funny things we think she would say if she could talk.

Within the past month Lucy began talking her own language, which mainly includes sounds in a singsong tone and the occasional consonants like G, K, D and others. When Lucy wakes up in the morning she begins talking to her friends around her crib (Tigger, Pooh and the butterfly on the bumper pads). Through the baby monitor it sounds like she is having a full conversation with them. Though Lucyís crib talk is a nicer wake-up call than my alarm clock or the old days when she would wake up crying, I still canít press the snooze button to pause her conversation for just another 10 minutes before Iím ready to get up. Sometimes I wait a while to go into her room because she is happily talking away and I can take my time to get ready. But if a while has gone by and I donít go into her room we notice her voice gets louder as if sheís calling us Ė "Mommmm? Daaaaaad? Iím ready! Where are you guys?"

When speaking to a baby, we naturally talk in a higher pitch and tone because babies respond better to different pitches. Well, my little 5-month old Lucy picked up on this high-pitched baby talk and began mimicking us. One day I was sitting on the couch with Lucy and patting her back to help her burp after a bottle and she began talking in this high-pitched tone. I was amazed by her tone and kept wondering, "What is it Lucy?" It seemed like she was talking at something similar to how she talks to Tigger in her crib because it was conversation-like noise. I looked in the direction she was looking and saw that she actually was talking to one of her toys Ė a "talk and play" puppy that has a big smile on its face and labeled body parts (hand, feet, etc.) for children to push and listen to the pup talk and sing. Lucy was adamantly trying to get the pupís attention with the same kind of voice we use when talking to her. It seemed like she was saying, "Do you want to come and play? Come on! Donít be shy!" She takes this tone of voice more often now and it sometimes feels like she is the adult speaking baby-talk to us.

The rapid pace that Lucy picks up on things makes me think twice about what I do and what I say. We change our ways when there is an infant around all the time to cater to her needs and try as best we can to communicate with her, but soon enough we will be changing our ways again to help her grow out of baby talk. Not everyone can communicate with babies. It is difficult to communicate with someone or something who does not speak the same language. This is a major barrier in communication. But I know that Lucy and I communicate, as crazy as it sounds and as crazy as it makes me as a mother. I know and my friends know that I am a wacko mom. It was simply my destiny. Hopefully when Lucy is older I will not embarrass her too much!

Communication, in my opinion, is one of the most rewarding natures of humanity. It simply feels good to have a nice conversation with someone and it brings us closer. Communicating with my baby is one of the most rewarding communications I have ever experienced. When I do something right, she tells me with a giant grin on her face and a giggle to go along with it. Lucyís smile just makes my day! I canít imagine how happy she will make me when she actually talks. Hopefully I can avoid being the wacko mom who tells everyone the cutest thing her kid said todayÖ every day.

Read other articles by Jacqueline Quillen