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shadows of echoes of memories of songs
All the things she said
I was going to do a quick general update on the State of the Img, but it's turned into a long update on her talking. (Those of you who follow me on twitter will have heard lots of the things she says already, but this post is as much for my record as anybody else's.) Updates on other aspects of her life may follow if I get round to writing them...

Img is basically talking all the time now, and the things she says are increasingly coherent. She's constantly telling us what's happening right now — to the extent that she'll say something and then say "Imi's saying [whatever she just said]", or she'll cry about something and then stop to announce mournfully "Imi's crying"). She talks about what's already happened, too, and it's lovely that she can now tell me what she did at nursery (Tuesday: "Imi banged Iris in the face with a teddy!" Thursday: "Mummy, Iris is Imi's best friend"). She doesn't have much sense of time yet, although she's learning the words for relative time, so will sometimes say "today" or "yesterday" about things that happened months ago, like "yesterday Mummy was on the fun run and she ran really fast!" (that was back in May, I think). It's amazing how much she remembers from when she didn't have the language to describe it, too; the other day we were cycling past the end of the road that leads to the church hall where we used to do 'Sing & Sign' classes, and out of the blue Img suddenly announced "Imi used to go to Sing and Sign and we sat on the floor on coloured mats" (so not only did she clearly remember the classes, but she remembered the location too). It makes me wonder how much else she remembers that she doesn't have the words for yet, and whether it's a blessing in disguise that we've forgotten our babyhood by the time we've acquired enough language to describe the prison bars of the cot, the fear that the milk had gone away for good, the unexpected joy of a bright object or a familiar sound.

With talking, of course, comes arguing. (I taught her language, and my profit on it is she knows how to answer back.) There are days when everything she says starts with "No, but" ("No, but Imi wants a biscuit") and we're now getting "actually" as well. (Img: "There's an orange one with a picture of Mr Tumble." Me: "How do you know that? You've never even seen Mr Tumble!" Img: "Imi has, actually.") Sometimes she even gives us reasons for the things she doesn't want to do, such as "Imi doesn't want to go to bed because Imi wants to play for a little while", but "because" is often used a bit haphazardly and the reasoning is usually a bit circular. Sometimes cause and effect is completely backwards ("Imi fell over because Imi hurt her leg") — interesting hearing her try to figure it out.

Oddly, she is still talking about herself mostly in the third person, though we're getting occasional use of "me" and "I" and "mine" and it's correctly used when it does appear (as indeed is the third person grammar). She's very keen to know everybody's name though (often pointing at strangers and loudly saying "Mummy, what's that woman's name called?" on buses etc), and she knows my first name and addedentry's (and occasionally uses them to address us, which makes us sound like terribly modern parents to anybody who's listening). It still feels odd somehow hearing her address our friends by their first names (though goodness knows what else she'd call them, I'm certainly not expecting her to call our friends "Aunty" or "Uncle", let alone their titles and surnames!) and it still amazes me how well she knows who's who at nursery — not just her fellow toddlers, however unusual their names are, but their parents too: the nursery pickup is an endless litany of "that's Jessica's mummy and daddy", "that's Johannes's daddy", "that's Romaro's mummy" etc — though since I don't know most of them from Adam she could just be bluffing! (She doesn't know the other parents' names but then the nursery staff never use them, probably because they can't remember them.) She also knows her own first name and surname (as well as knowing that we live in Oxford, and on Planet Earth — thanks to the Clangers for the latter!).

Other new developments in her language are that she's started talking to her toys, and even occasionally putting words into their mouths; she's also started telling stories, though they're usually along the lines of "once upon a time there was a mummy and she had a cuddle". Her all-time best story so far though was this amazing horror story: "Once upon a time there was a horrible monster and he had spidery legs and spidery legs and spidery legs and spidery legs and spidery legs and spidery legs and..." she must have said "and spidery legs" about 100 times, while I nearly cried with trying not to laugh. The more I think about it the more hilarious but also terrifying it is. I'm imagining it as a cartoon strip with a little pale face narrating and spidery legs protruding into the frame, slowly filling the successive pictures until it's just a big scribble of spidery legs obscuring the face. SPIDERY LEGS.

Possibly because she's generally such a confident talker for her age, her little mistakes often make me giggle (though of course I don't laugh at her unless she's deliberately being silly/funny with words, which she does more and more — she enjoys talking in silly voices, putting extra letters on the end of words, and inventing words/names e.g. calling me "Mup" and addedentry "Mep"). "Hostipal" is such a classic toddler transposition that it sounds like she's just putting it on; "Imi doesn't berember" (always uttered in a rather sad tone) is lovely; we hear a lot that she "smatched" things from her friends at nursery or vice versa; "Imi ate a too little much" is an odd one but she's quite attached to it. Other 'mistakes' are actually rather inventive, like when she spoke the words of a song and then said "Imi's not tuning it".

I should also mention her brief and probably-accidental excursion into swearing, when she trotted into our bedroom one morning and announced "Imi wants to fuck the milk". I didn't know where to put myself! She repeated it a couple of times, I said "that's a funny word, what does it mean?" and she started saying "Imi wants to mup the milk" instead, leading me to suspect she was just being silly and making up words, but goodness me, I hope she doesn't come out with anything like that when anybody else is listening. (Though my family still all remember with glee the occasion when, as a toddler, I apparently stood on a chair in a quiet little tea-room and said "Bugger!" very loudly several times; so I guess we have form for that sort of thing.)

As well as talking we get loads and loads of singing; she picks up songs quickly and sings them tunefully enough that strangers can recognise them. Current favourite seems to be the alphabet song, which she can do more or less accurately (though "enemenopee" is definitely all one letter, "y" is always "wide", and "next time won't you sing with me" is something approximating to "next I want to sing with me", i.e. she's got the sound of it but doesn't really get the words). Mostly the singing is lovely, though sometimes it drives me crackers, like when I'm trying to tell addedentry one short admin thing but literally can't retain a thought in my head to the end of a sentence, much less make myself heard, because of an incessant loud repetition of "Nondon nidge is nalling nown" or "the peels on the pus go pound and pound"...

All in all it's adorable though and I love listening to her talk and sing — which is just as well because as far as I can tell so does she!

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jinty From: jinty Date: October 22nd, 2013 02:37 am (UTC) (Link)

It sounds like A and Imi are doing very similar things language wise

And with narrative & memory too. I don't have any examples that are as striking as Imi's Sing & Sign one but certainly A does stuff like remember things that happened weeks previously and recount them as if they'd just happened earlier that day. Interesting stuff all round, innit!
cleanskies From: cleanskies Date: October 22nd, 2013 05:50 am (UTC) (Link)
oh dear god the spidery legs!!!!!
j4 From: j4 Date: October 23rd, 2013 08:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
I bet you could draw them perfectly :-)
jinty From: jinty Date: October 22nd, 2013 06:51 am (UTC) (Link)
I was also meaning to say how interesting the normal developmental range is - A and Imi are, in the grand scheme of things, normal for language development I'd guess, but Imi is clearly doing similar things to A six months ahead of when A has started to do them. At least six months, in fact - but all within the presumably normal developmental range. Cor.
j4 From: j4 Date: October 23rd, 2013 08:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
The variation is amazing (though IIRC by the age of 5(? or thereabouts) you can't reliably tell the difference between the early talkers and the late) - at the other end of the scale from Img, my friend V has a little girl (J) who really didn't start talking at all until she was nearly three (she did a lot of baby-signing, and made distinct noises that V could understand, but very very few proper words let alone sentences). Kinda embarrassing when they came to visit and Img was running rings round J conversationally despite being 9 months younger but fortunately V wasn't worried & the two girls happily communicated in the universal toddler language of "running around going AAAAAHAHHHHHHH at each other". :-)
venta From: venta Date: October 22nd, 2013 08:03 am (UTC) (Link)
I like reading these posts when you have time to write them :)

I met up with a friend and her (15th month) daughter at the weekend. They had been buying shoes, so I asked the little girl if she had just got some new shoes... at which point she kicked her feet, pointed at them, and said something which might have been "shoes".

Which really threw me, because I've been asking her questions in that way for about 15 months. I hadn't seen her in around 3, and in that time she's suddenly got the hang of language, so actually understood the question and answered. I really wasn't expecting that!
j4 From: j4 Date: October 23rd, 2013 08:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
Heh! You have reminded me that Img called shoes "oosh" for quite a long time, it was one of the first things she produced a consistent wordlike noise for, & I was surprised she'd apparently managed to get the word back-to-front as that seemed like an odd class of mistake.
tla From: tla Date: October 22nd, 2013 11:31 am (UTC) (Link)
and it still amazes me how well she knows who's who at nursery — not just her fellow toddlers, however unusual their names are, but their parents too: the nursery pickup is an endless litany of "that's Jessica's mummy and daddy", "that's Johannes's daddy", "that's Romaro's mummy" etc — though since I don't know most of them from Adam she could just be bluffing!

Almost certainly not, judging from Sophie and her nursery mates - they do the same thing with e.g. Luka's mummy and Seamus's daddy, and also whenever I appear, the kids will immediately start trying to get Sophie's attention because they know very well whose mummy I am. I have to admit it's a pretty handy crutch for me!
j4 From: j4 Date: October 23rd, 2013 08:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have to admit it's a pretty handy crutch for me!

Heh yes! I have often wished I could take Img with me to work/conferences/etc so she could do all the name-remembering for me... I've never been great with names & my ability to remember anything has been totally zapped by 2.5 years of sleep deprivation. :-/
jvvw From: jvvw Date: October 22nd, 2013 01:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
Owen is an expert on who everybody's mummy and daddy is at his nursery too, and is certainly consistent and accurate in the cases where I do know whose parents are whose. I presume it's because they see who is picking up who. He does have a surprising memory for lots of things that happened in the past as well. I'll be very curious to see what his first memory is.

We've also had the weird phase where he insisted on calling us Juliette and Jon rather than mummy and daddy, though he seems to have reverted to the latter.

1ngi From: 1ngi Date: October 22nd, 2013 02:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
"Nondon nidge is nalling nown" Ded of cute.

It's been interesting seeing this fuller account compared to what you tweet - the naunce is fascinating. How much comprehension that goes on is always startling in little kids. I remember my nephew at about 2 not having lots of spoken language (you can't shut him up now) but very much understanding what was going on around him and even now will recall stuff that we didn't think he'd remember.

Edited to add - he's 8 now.

Edited at 2013-10-22 02:57 pm (UTC)
j4 From: j4 Date: October 23rd, 2013 08:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm glad it was interesting! Img is endlessly fascinating to me but I worry that I'm just turning into a total mummy-bore (on twitter and on here).

The thing that terrifies me is the thought that Img was just as aware of everything before she had any ability to communicate, and she must have just been in a constant state of frustration and misery (well that's what it sounded like at the time anyway) but unable to tell us. Poor little scrap.
jiggery_pokery From: jiggery_pokery Date: October 22nd, 2013 11:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
This post is delightful. Thank you for sharing it with us!
j4 From: j4 Date: October 23rd, 2013 08:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
Glad you like it! I worry about being That Woman Who Always Just Rambles On About Her Kids, so always nice to know other people get some interest/enjoyment from my ramblings. :-)
ghoti From: ghoti Date: October 23rd, 2013 03:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
"however unusual their names are" Presumably they're not unusual to Imi though. I mean, I never met a Tessia before but to Andreas, that's "my friend Tessia" and a perfectly normal name. However, when he met a Rory he thought that was very funny, because it's like Roary the Racing Car.

I know A is a lot younger, but he's much advanced compared to my older two speechwise, they did have speech delay (and Judith is in speech therapy, Benedict had a sudden burst and caught up so never needed therapy).
shermarama From: shermarama Date: October 23rd, 2013 07:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
I really clearly remember Benedict struggling with pronouns one day. He wanted to say something about what he was doing and what I was doing but kept saying you when he meant me, or the other way round. He could tell something wasn't right, and was frowning with concentration over it, but it just wasn't coming out right. (I think I tried to help but wasn't very effective at it, which was probably just even more frustrating for him and for me, which is probably why I remember it so clearly.)
j4 From: j4 Date: October 23rd, 2013 09:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Presumably they're not unusual to Imi though.

No, but a few of them are unusual compared to the range of phonemes that she's been exposed to since before birth (i.e. those found in English), and AIUI she's well past the point where they stop being able to discriminate between phonemes in languages other than their own (see e.g. this explanation), so I wouldn't have been surprised if she'd had difficulty with them.
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