It took a few weeks, but Chris has finally witnessed the incredible “dada”-saying baby. Up until yesterday, she had said it sporadically but in a way that only a mother could understand. For whatever reason, our little daughter was having trouble spitting out her “D” sound, and so where I heard “Dada,” everyone else heard “Jha-jha” or “Rra-rra” (but a keen observer would have noticed this sound was only used around Daddy and cut that poor child some slack!).
However, in the interest of proving to Chris that I was not crazy, during one of Maddi’s “Jha-jha”-ing sessions, I looked her in the face and said, “That’s right, Maddi — Dada!” with the crispest “D”s possible. After about 10 minutes of making a fool of myself trying to get the baby to say an unequivocal “Dada” — which happens on a near-daily basis — something apparently clicked.
It wasn’t clear at first and sometimes she’d slip back into “Jha-jha,” but Maddi finally got her “D”s working well enough to divert a shocked Daddy’s attention from his business call. Now that she’s mastered this most jhifficult of consonants, our daughter has been hard at work making sure she hasn’t forgotten how to say “Dada.”
Unlike “Mama,” which she uses primarily as a form of protestation when placed in the crib or on the change table (and a few days ago, a “Mama, nee-nee-nee!” when I was suctioning her nose, which I think clearly places “No” in the “definite” category for Maddi’s vocabulary), Maddi can’t use her latest word enough. She uses it to get Chris’ attention in the car, chants it gleefully as she scrambles down the hallway toward the baby gate at the top of the stairs that lead down to Chris’ office, and sings it merrily as she bangs her toys together, as if to keep her skills sharp.
As dismayed as I may be that my name is used only in times of dire need while our little daughter chant’s “Dada” like a fan a rock concert, I am happy that she is using at least one of our names on a consistent basis rather than simply sticking with cat-related vocabulary. Speaking of cats, I have finally discovered what would happen to our feline family members were Maddi ever to get within a few inches of them unsupervised. When she sees her stuffed kitten (a plaything she recently picked out for herself at Toys ‘R’ Us), her typical greeting entails grabbing it around the neck, shaking it up and down and slobbering on its ear. (Yes, she kisses the cat; no, she hasn’t kissed a human yet — ever — and not for lack of effort on my part!) Yesterday, she gave the poor animal her usual affectionate greeting and then finished off by shaking poor little Suzy-Cat upside-down by the tail. Luckily for all, our cats don’t stick around long enough to let her lavish these affections on them.
Despite her propensity toward stuffed-animal cruelty, our now crisply-enunciating daughter is a baby worthy of applause. And as of yesterday, Maddi is able to give herself a big hand. Doing things in twos as usual, Maddi clapped for the first time about two or three hours after the “Dada” explosion. I was giving her a round of applause for some fine “Dada”-ing when I noticed she was putting her hands together and staring at them. I slowed my clapping and said “Clap hands!” and Maddi broke out in a huge smile. Then she flailed her arms in a spastic frenzy that looked a lot more like a drunken cowboy dramatically brushing the dust from his hands after winning a fistfight. I’m not sure that anyone else believes she’s clapping her hands, but I believe it and she believes it and she’s replicated it a half-dozen times since, so it’s going in the baby book!
Coming soon: Pictures of Daddy’s little girl at 40 weeks (finally longer out that in!).