A child's first words

First words are big, and even more so when your child is speech delayed, as it was with Nat. And sometimes I suspect she knew that we were eagerly anticipating them. And she was playing me like a fish.

Children have it in for you. Don't be fooled. Like the night when I was looking at a picture book with Natalie. She hadn't yet started to talk, we were getting anxious, and she was getting smug about it.

I remember I pointed to a picture of a fish and asked Natalie, 'What's that?' If this was any other day of the week, she would have said, with great conviction,


This time, however, she stared at it and I could almost hear the machinations as she scrunched her brow and, after a few seconds, said with finality, 'Fish!'

That got me so excited that I yelled for Jo to come downstairs and witness this milestone. "Watch this!" I shouted, and pointed again to the fish. "Natalie, what's this?"

She leaned in, scrunched her brow and, after a few seconds, said with finality, "Da!"

"No," I said, and pointed again. "What's this?"

"Da?" she said, more uncertain of her position.

"Take your time," I urged, and glanced at Jo who was rapidly losing interest -- this was not the first time I had called her downstairs to witness our daughter say 'Da'. I pointed to the fish again. "What's this?"

"Da," she said, only this time she was sure of herself. She looked at me with a smile. Some may say it was for approval. Others may suggest she had crossed the intellectual Rubicon of pranksterism.

My wife rolled her eyes and went back upstairs. Natalie pointed to the boat, just underneath the fish.

"Boat," she said.

"Boat," I agreed and ground my teeth together.

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