On first words

Whilst I’m on the theme of toddler-talk confessions (see the gabbling phase from just before Christmas); the whole “first words” thing has been a bit of an eye-opener too.

I’d been labouring under the misapprehension that mini-DarkerSide’s first word would be a momentous occasion. After a month or two of generic baby cooing, the day would arrive. He’d perhaps be playing with his mother, whilst I was creating some simple yet nourishing fare in the kitchen (let me know if I’m laying on the domestic hero role a little thick). With a cry of joy Ms DarkerSide would call me through, and we’d listen with a tear in our eye to our progeny repeating some word, perhaps with a slight distortion, but clear enough so most people could understand. Mama, perhaps. Or “bike”. Hell, even quinoa.

The date would be etched in our minds, and when he was older we’d refer back to his first word with joy (and suspicion, admittedly, if it was quinoa). It would probably make for an amusing anecdote at his 18th.

It turns out we have no idea what his first word was.

I mean, are you meant to pick the first time your child communicates clearly with you? Because that would probably be the word “oo” (which, when repeated and combined with a pointed finger, translates to “that thing there, daddy; I want it”).

Or the first sound that we could consistently translate to a real word? Easy: “eeeeshh”. Means cheese. Although you’d only realise that if you’d spent several hours offering up a selection of household objects to try and make the noise stop. And I suspect you can’t count it as a first word if its pronunciation makes non-child-carers smile politely whilst inwardly thinking “there’s no way that means cheese; this adult is clearly infatuated to the point of delusion”.

He now has a bunch of words that most independent reviewers would be able to comprehend without too much gesturing. But I’ve no idea if the clear enunciation of “toast” came before “down”. Or whether “daddy” beat “bike”. And (to my eternal amusement) “mummy” still often sounds like “money”, so I’m not sure we can tick that one off at all.

As such, for future reference I’m going to say that his first word was bike.

Destined for greatness.

PS: If you do have a clear memory of your child’s first words without having to resort to unilateral declarations, please let me know in the comments!

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