In the mouth of Maddux

We’ve been saying since Christmastime that Maddi is thisclose to cutting her top teeth. By last week, they were literally full-fledged chompers that just happened to be covered in a thin layer of gum tissue. In fact, many times her bulging, white tooth-shaped gums were too-hastily hailed as actual teeth.

But all things must come to an end eventually, and Chris and I are pleased to inform you that Maddi’s epic teething spell has run its course. (Although now her second incisors are “almost out” — please insert sarcastic air quotes — so it’s not as if she’s really done teething.)

Maddi had one top tooth as of Sunday and two as of Tuesday. As for the next teeth, who knows? Could be tomorrow, could be April!

But one thing Maddi’s not taking forever to do is talk. No, she has figured out that verbal communication is a useful thing and is quickly expanding her repertoire, although she still performs only for Mommy. Maybe, as rumor has it, I’m crazy. Or perhaps spending about 80 hours of one-on-one time with her a week has given me a unique ability to key into what she is saying long before it is intelligible to anyone else. Just throwing out a theory there to those of you who doubt that we have the most perfect, certified-genius Renaissance baby that ever was.

My criteria for a “word” (as opposed to something that could possibly be a word) are that it sounds ever-so-vaguely like a word, and that the word it sounds like is applicable to the thing she seems to be “talking” about, and that the “word” is used repeatedly in the same circumstances and not often in others. I don’t require the word to be particularly well-enunciated or even intelligible to anyone else, just that it be consistently used to convey a specific idea.

But let’s take this a step further. The Catholic church requires that miracles be verified before they are acknowledged. So I’m not averse to having her vocabulary ratified by other knowledgeable sources, such as Chris, his mom and Cora, the gym’s childcare provider who watches Maddi for an hour and a half every day.

Words Maddi definitely says are “Mama” (verified unanimously), “Dada” (verified unanimously and often), “no” (said, or more often screeched, like “Nee-nee-nee!” or “Nah-nah-nah!”), and of course “cat,” which has gone through many permutations beginning with “kkk …. hact” and currently sounding like “cat” or “hat.” So technically, she has four words that she uses consistently.

But then there are also words such as “hi,” which Nana and Cora think they may have heard a few times and which I’ve heard many times (including her following the greeting with “kittycat”). Then there’s “kitty” or “kittycat” which I hear constantly, whether in reference to her stuffed cat or the real thing, and which Auntie Kathy may have heard around Christmastime (except it sounds more like “kit-kit” or “gikky” or “key-caa”). So that’s another two dubiously verified words, which gives us a total of six if we slacken our standards.

Then there are the words which Maddi has never yet performed publicly and, according to some, may exist only in my mind.

Those words would be “more” (or, as Maddi puts it, “mo”), “ball” (that’s “bah” in Maddish), “dog” (which sounds like “dah”), and “up,” which sounds just like it should, except she almost always says it in threes when she’s asking me to pick her up, so I didn’t realize for weeks that she wasn’t just babbling. So if you go by the most unreliable method of verification and accept all your information from a single, emotionally invested eyewitness, Maddi has 10 words that she uses regularly (I’m not even counting the possible instances of “again,” “eat” and “banana,” so you should be proud of me!).

However, don’t expect to hear most of them anytime soon. Being a sociable little girl, Maddi is way too busy smiling and flapping for fresh audiences to start thinking about kittycats or balls, and she’s usually trying to get down rather than up when she’s around her doting friends and relatives.

Her teeth, though, you can see for yourself in this picture of our adorable 42-week-old (alleged) chatterbox. Scroll down for additional cuteness.

* * * Breaking news update * * *

I completely forgot that Maddi occasionally says the word “book.” In fact, the very night I posted this, Maddi said “Mama boo” in reference to the book “I Love My Mommy Because….” And then this morning (March 1), Chris went downstairs and closed the door to the office. Maddi started to fuss a little, and I told her Daddy went bye-bye, and little Maddi stood at the baby gate, flapping a belated adieu and shouting “Bahbah, dada!” So “Hi, kittycat” was not a fluke after all. Our daughter is putting words together.

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