About a week ago, Genevieve pulled a prank on us.
Several pranks in quick succession, actually. First, she fooled her daycare teachers into believing that she’d walked — ten whole steps in a row, if the stories are to be believed. Then she fooled *us* by standing up and taking a step or two, which her quick-thinking father actually managed to document for posterity. She continues to tear around the house at top speed behind her clacking crocodile push toy, enjoys moving furniture around, and will happily toddle around while hanging on to nothing more than an index finger or pants leg. You can even get her to stand up unassisted without much effort.
But has Genevieve actually started walking yet? Not quite.
Around the same time — about a week ago Friday or Saturday, if my memory serves — Genevieve was babbling, doing a fair job of repeating syllables I suggested, when Mzoxie leapt up onto the couch. Evie oriented on the cat, squealed in delight, then looked to me to make sure I too was aware of this delightful thing.
“Cat!” I told her, indicating ours. “Moxie. Cat.”
I swear to Pete, my ten-and-a-half-month-old daughter looked back at Moxie and repeated, “Ka!” And then, for good measure, she did it again a moment later for her father’s benefit.
“I think this is her first word,” I tentatively pronounced.
& demurred. He requires more than one data point before he’s ready to pronounce something official.
And this has been where Genevieve punks us every time: she gives us one data point. Exactly one. Then we’re left wondering, did she really take her first steps? Did she really just say her first word? Did we imagine it, and she hasn’t actually achieved the milestone yet? Or did she do this already, has she done it before, and we just weren’t paying attention?
I don’t think that Evie suffers from second-child neglect. I admit that we’re much more casual now about things that were cause for fretting with Natalie; while our eldest did not taste refined sugar until her first birthday cake, Genevieve gobbles fig newtons and graham crackers with abandon at day care and it never even occurred to me to try to cut her off. (Lest we come across as hovering helicopter parents, let us recall how Natalie, at the age of eight months, famously leaned forward in her Baby Bjorn and licked a support pole on the 52 bus.) But it’s simply not true that we’re less observant of the kid’s behaviors, foibles, milestones and general up-growing just because we’ve already watched her sister do it. I doubt we’ve actually missed anything for want of paying attention.
Nonetheless, once Genevieve gives us that one data point, our regularly-scheduled vigilance shoots up in intensity. Could that thing that we just perceived — that stumbling-forward-onto-all-fours, that syllable with an initial velar consonant — be the second data point we’ve been waiting for, the validation that establishes an actual trend?
Today at the dining room table, unprompted, Genevieve piped up: “Ka.”
& and I both turned to face her — and saw that Moxie had come into the room. The cat was sitting off to the side, licking a hind leg and ignoring us all. But Evie wasn’t ignoring her. Evie had been paying attention, and was letting us know what she’d seen.
“Did you hear that??” I squealed to &.
“I DID!!” he grinned back. “I think this really is her first word!”
Genevieve, thoroughly chuffed, burst into giggles and gave herself a round of applause.
I think it *is* her first word. We are believers now. Any day now, Genevieve will be walking consistently. Any day now, ma-ma will mean me and da-da will mean &. But today, “Ka!” means Moxie, and Genevieve couldn’t be prouder that she can say so.