Damien’s Regal Vocabulary

Damien’s vocabulary has come a long way in a very short span of time. He has a huge vocabulary of words and enunciates very well for his age, though there are a few words he started with that he still mispronounces. For example, Daddy is “Gaggy,” even if he can easily say Daddy. 

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Other phrases are even more adorable, in my view. Two of my favourites are:

“Too king” for “Excuse me”

and 

“Going to mah-ket” for “We’re going to the market”

and

Watch “some king” for Watch something

It makes me feel like he’s speaking some form of English used by royalty or something. Just so funny. There are also times when he counts with emphasis, “Vone, two, vree, vour, vive, six, seven…” Who knows where he picked that up, and it’s oddly not all the time!

Moon! Stars! Flag! Clock!

When Damien loves something, he LOVES it. This boy can spot any star on a window display or in a busy book and will notice every flag we pass. While he may not (often) use the words for these items, his enthusiasm is plain to see. 

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Tar! (star) Baa! (general sound for look, I see something awesome!) Ee-Aw (his ‘tick tock’ sound)! 

At StrongStart, we have to go say Hello and Goodbye to the moon that hangs in the classroom every day – at least it’s no longer a dozen times per visit! And keep your eyes peeled, because he will surely remind you that every circle (ircle), arrow or straight line reminds him of a clock. 

Right now, his obsession with clocks is the most epic obsession, to the point where he gets quite mad if you turn away from any book page that has a clock before he’s fully done with it. 

Talk about cuteness, Damien used to call flags Ada, which I think was for Canada. Loved it.

Enforcing Baby Signs to Modify Behaviour

We started using some sign language with both boys starting at around 6 months old. I used an iPhone app to learn some basic signs with Aiden and it was really useful. I found that he picked up the most useful signs very quickly – more, milk, all done, tired – but never seemed interested in non-urgent signs for things (like bird, etc). Most of the signs went away as Aiden’s vocabulary grew, though to this day you can sometimes see him unconsciously sign “please” when he’s asking for something – it’s quite cute. 

PhotoDamien shows me the balloon on the ceiling, mixing his words (bah-l’n) with his gestures (Up).

With Damien, he was not as obvious with his hand communication to indicate he was ready for signs, but we began introducing them anyway and started signing around 7 months. As soon as he had one sign and realized we were communicating, other signs very quickly followed. Interestingly enough, I almost began EC training with Damien, since his signs were very clear before he needed to go and I already knew he hated his diaper, but it was just too tough with two kids and he eventually got over it. 

Damien is very clear with his signs… when he wants to be. At around 10 months, we decided to try to make his use of signs more consistent by enforcing them at meals (for the most part). Damien is a little bit crazy at meal times – he wants to eat, eat, EAT and it can be overwhelming when he’s yelling or banging to be fed more and faster. In order to give him more tools to ask for what he wants, we insisted he use the sign for “more” (which he didn’t have, but we were hoping he’d develop) and within one morning he was using it. We weren’t super strict about it, but we made (and continue to make) it clear that we prefer he use his signs or words to ask for more. There are times, of course, when he’s making himself clear or he’s tired and asking for a sign just pisses him off – we’re not mean about it. 

The use of “more” definitely brought his yelling down a notch, though I’m sure we could make even more progress if we were consistent about it. 

Since we started teaching Damien signs, he has also developed a fairly sizeable vocabulary, so he uses both in conjunction, though he’ll often sign “all done” rather than use his words. Just like Aiden, he’s modified some of his signs to be personal to him. He abandoned the sign for “milk”, for example, and instead refers to breastmilk and to water with his “water” sign, which I think he uses to mean “thirsty” instead. 

In a more confusing customization, his “more” sign is to clap his hands together. I think that our early enforcement of this sign caused him to create the sign in his own way before he understood how to make the pinched fingers, and the personalized sign has simply stuck (as they tend to). 

So, if you see Damien clapping, it’s not always because he’s happy… sometimes he wants more of something! And yes, that IS very confusing!

Damien’s First Word: Mama

At 3.5 months, Damien began using the “mama” sound, his first solid babble after general cooing and the “aahhh” sound. Sometime in the last month, he stopped using the “mama” sound as a repetitive babble and instead used it as a word. It became a single “mama” or “mum” instead, and is now almost exclusively used when he wants me for something – he uses other sounds for babbling. 

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You’re most likely to hear Damien call for Mama if he’s upset – if he’s hurt or super tired or generally mad about something (like being in the carseat for too long). 

While I know they say not to compare your kids, it’s kind of cool to watch Damien develop his language in such a different way. Although I swore I heard Aiden say words from time to time, he was very inconsistent in using them consistently. It was not until he had many words that he started to use them all the time. 

Also, I’m pretty pleased that Damien said the Mama sound before the Dada one ;)

So far, that’s his only “word”, though I think he may be calling our cat Nala by the phrase “Nana”, but I’m not as sure on that one. 

Aiden at 34 Months

Aiden has been having a great summer, particularly this last month of glorious weather. We spend endless hours playing outside our house in the alley with all the neighbourhood kids. Although I often lament about not having a yard, I know he’s getting something far better through his interaction with all those kids. The kids are all older than him (youngest is 5, eldest is almost 12), but they all dote on him and are more than happy to drop whatever they are doing to play with him or teach him things. It’s truly amazing. His current favourite activities with them are playing tennis or hide & seek. 

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  • Weight 29.5 lbs (apparently last month was an erroneous reading! Still no change in 10 months)
  • Wears 3T tops and pants (finally put away all but the very-largest of the 2T clothes)
  • Favorite foods include: ice cream, sausages, oatmeal, gorilla crunch cereal, veggie straws, chocolate milk, roast chicken, yogurt with granola, nuts
  • Wants to know the names of the streets we are driving on. Has recall for many of them (St Georges, Lonsdale Avenue, Keith, Grand Boulevard)
  • Loves looking at street maps
  • Asks the names of street signs & store names: “What’s that store? What does that spell?”
  • Wants to know the first letter of a word he hears: “What’s that start with?”
  • Has renewed interest in the alphabet. Has improved his recall again, only confused now on 3 letters
  • Wants to know what things are made of. A common question this month has been “What is XX made of?” He’s asked about houses, cars, cardboard, water, most things he’s holding
  • Is interested in how things are built. Enjoys likening things to skeletons (a house frame is like a skeleton)
  • Loves to pretend to crash and fall. People must think he’s quite clumsy!
  • Wants to climb in and out of his carseat every time; has learned to close his own car door.
  • Loves to hug and say “I love you SO much” to family and friends. Very huggy month. 
  • Has mastered his “L” sounds – they are over-enunciated right now
  • Began calling Damien incorrectly – was saying Damiend; we don’t know if he got confused or was doing a nickname. May have come from my little Damien songs where I repeat his name to a tune (the D would thus restart after his name)
  • His favourite phrases: I can do it by myself, I can’t do it, you want to read this together, never mind, I don’t like this, where are we going today
  • My favourite phrases of his: I did it all by myself, I love you SO much, my tummy is so full, yellow (said more like yeLL-Low)