Monday, November 26, 2012

What Sound Does the Dog Make?

When Hudson was a (seriously-the-cutest-ever) puppy, Rayne and I decided we would teach him basic commands -- sit, stay, come -- and not bother with roll over, paw or play dead. He wasn't, we reasoned, our little play toy to teach tricks for our amusement.

I mean, SERIOUSLY, how cute was this puppy?
(I have to admit that I slightly regret not being more -- ahem -- insistent that Hudsy learn the basics cold, since we did have to bring a trainer in after Henry came along and Hudson slid screeching off the cliff to Neurotic Dog Valley. But I digress.)

In the last few months, I've noticed babies at the playground or in classes starting to do tricks make animal noises on command for other adults in the audience vicinity.

I've always found it odd when parents yell non sequitur commands at their infants and toddlers in a usually (but not always) futile attempt to elicit a response:

What sound does the cow make?
What sound does the duck make?
What sound? What sound, dammit?!

Okay, maybe not the last part, but it seems implied by the fever pitch of their voices.

I mean, what difference does it make if Henry knows what sound the cow makes? Is this really developmentally significant? Or is it just another of those things we all get caught up in because everyone else is doing it? Or because Fisher Price sells a ton of petroleum-based products that make farm animal noises?

Well, I wasn't going to make Henry do tricks. I read to him; we play with blocks; we sing; we go to music class; we go to swim class. He babbles happily and incomprehensibly all day long. He'll be fine, right? Right?

Alas, I am not immune to the creeping paranoia that my child is not developmentally on target (!!!!).

"He's doesn't know the sound the monkey makes," I say to Rayne.

"He will."

"Does he need to? I mean, is that a thing?"

"I don't know," he shrugs, completely unconcerned that our child DOES NOT KNOW THE SOUND THE MONKEY MAKES.

So recently, against my better judgment, I've come up with an idea. Henry loves Hudson, I figure, so we should start with that.

Yes, I get up into Henry's little face and repeatedly ask:

What sound does the dog make?!

Moo Cow, I don't understand what you want from me!!!

He looks at me alternately confused and bemused. What is my crazy Moo Cow doing? His silence prompts my response:

Woof! Woof woof woof!

Hudson barks and runs over to investigate. Satisfied that there are no intruders, bodies of water, doors, nozzles, cleaning products, cats or anything else that might signal the end of the world, he slumps back to his corner. But not without a "woof" of his own. Henry giggles.

"What sound does the dog make?" I ask Henry again.

He laughs.

"Woof woof woof!" I say.

And Hudson is back on the trail.

Frankly, Henry seems to find this repeating sequence of events hi-lar-i-ous. Based on his observations, I imagine his thought process must run like this: What a fun game! Mommy gets in my face and asks a question in a weird voice. Then she makes the sound a dog makes. Like Hudson. Then Hudson runs over because he thinks there's a dog. SO FUNNY, Moo Cow! Let's play again!

But he never actually says woof.

Come to think of it, he hasn't said much of anything beyond a whole bunch of random and fairly incessant babble: Babababa gagagagaaaa ya-ya-ya mama dadadadii muhmuhmuh aah!

Until today.

When he was out at the playground with his babysitter and became transfixed by another child's red toy car.

Photo credit: Thiago Felipe Festa

She flipped on her iPhone video app and said "car" about fifty times in his face. (Just like I do! Right?! See?! Okay, maybe not as close. Or as frantically.)

"Cah," he responded, at least three or four times.

Car. That's his first word. Not mama or dada in any discriminate way.

And certainly not WOOF.

Nope. Car.


He is, after all, my husband's son.

I guess he'll speak after all.

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