Tuesday, October 16, 2007


When Iyyar was in his screaming-all-the time phase (you know, the first six months or so) I mentioned the unbelievable volume in a running email exchange with a knitting buddy who is also a musician. I complained about the constant ringing in my ear from having a 200-decibel baby's mouth three inches away. She reassured me that he was probably headed for a career in opera. I thought she was just trying to make me feel better.

Now I wonder. Because Iyyar--well, that child loves to sing. He sings and sings and sings. He sings in his high chair, sings in his crib, sings to his toys. He sings the diaper-changing lament and the song of cheese-eating joy. Right now I am in my office, having just shipped off a speech, and I am listening to him yodeling in the hall. "AH ya ya ya yay! AAAAAH ya ya ya yay!" and then, "Ah ya yee ya bee! Ah ya yee ba bee!"

He's got his 18-month checkup scheduled for this afternoon, and I know that the pediatrician will give me grief that he's not talking yet, other than the two or three words that he doesn't use consistently. He won't imitate anything anyone says, although he'll imitate anything you do--he'll throw and catch a ball, help you put books away, put anything he can get his hands on in the garbage. But then you'll have your back turned, you'll here the soft patter of feline feet, and from behind you in the high chair you'll think you've imagined a small voice distinctly saying "cat."

"Cat?" you'll say, hopefully. "Is that a cat?" And Iyyar will look at you blankly. "Di-d-d-d-d."

Same thing when you say "no." He insists he doesn't understand. "No, Iyyar! Those are Abba's books. You don't take those off the shelf. No no!" How's that, Imma? I don't understand. What is this word you use, 'no'? Well, whatever--here, have a Kahati. But then when Barak's trying to take a toy away from him, what does he do? Holds it as far away as possible while hollering, "Na na na na na!"

I know his hearing is fine, because if I say, "Iyyar, are you hungry? Do you want a snack?" right behind him, the next thing I know he'll be in the kitchen trying to climb into the high chair. I worry sometimes, because it's my nature, and I'll ask Ada what she thinks. "He's fine," she assures me. "I think he's just really, really stubborn. One of these days he'll decide to talk, and then it'll be full sentences from morning till night."

I have a funny feeling she might be right.


jkberg said...

My cousin's second child was like that, wouldn't say a word. His older sister did all the talking for him. :)

But one day she was at the door and he wanted to be at the door and he hollared "Move"! and he was off and running. So Iyyar will talk when he wants to, not when any percentile indicates he should.

Deborah said...

I read a biography of Charles Wesley a long time ago. He didn't speak a word until he was five when he hid under the table (legs covered by tablecloth); his family searched most of day for him and ended up believing he had drowned in a ditch; it was only then, when everyone was in despair that he spoke a full sentence letting his mother know where he was and then never stopped talking.

I really hope Iyyar is not as stubborn as that.