Arlo’s second word (it’s not as fun to talk about ‘No’ being his first word) came into play when he was eleven months old. No surprise that it was the word for his absolute favourite toy, a ball.
Tennis ball, bouncy ball, football, juggling ball – Arlo can tell them all. There’s no doubt that he knows exactly what a ball is. He can spot a ball a mile off. Park walks are filled with proud exclamations of ‘BAAAAAAALL!’ approxiately once every two metres.
Recently, whilst watching Abney and Teal, he spotted a ball sitting quietly in the background. It wasn’t even a featured object in this particularly busy scene. ‘My child is a bloody GENIUS‘, I’m thinking. Then I remember the time a melon in the supermarket was ‘ball’, or when he calls the dog ‘ball’.
Whether he’s looking for a ball, thinking about a ball, or first thing when he wakes, it’s a one word insight into his stream of consciousness. ‘Ball, ball, ball, ball, BALL’. He chants the word as he’s crawling along. He’s like those ‘Mine, Mine, Mine’ seagulls in Finding Nemo. Even if Arlo had a few other words in his vocabulary, I have a feeling that his thoughts are pretty much 90% ‘ball’.
Every utterance of ‘ball’ has me on the lookout so I can give praise where its due. ‘Well done, Arlo! You spotted a ball. Clever boy, etc, etc’.
He looks at me expectantly when he says it, and I feel a need to acknowledge his every observation, lest he think I’m ignoring him. (I’m sure the more experienced parents will be smiling at this part knowing that the novelty will soon wear off).
Even with just a couple of words under his belt, the constant acknowledgement can be hard to keep up with. Especially when I am multitasking. Take for instance the other day, when Arlo and I were in the newsagent, and I was trying to work out which chocolate bar to choose.
Arlo looked at the guy behind the counter. ‘Ball?’ he asked him.
‘No Arlo, there’s no ball here’, I muttered absent-mindedly. (I had it down to a Galaxy or a Twix at this point. Which one would go better with a cup of tea?)
Later, when Sam got home from work, I relayed the incident at the newsagent. I remarked how Arlo was now starting to strike up a conversation with people using the only word in his repertoire.
‘Was he facing to the right? There are bouncy balls hanging up there behind the counter.’
Another parenting lesson learned: There will be times when you choose chocolate over your son.
Note: During the time it took to get this post written and published, Arlo learnt to say ‘dog’, which he pronounces as ‘Doooawr, obviously. (He’s not quite there with his G sounds). The problem is now, in his excitement at learning a new word, ball is now ‘Dooooall’. So, I can confirm that he is not a genius after all.