The very wise aunt of a friend once told me that she had yet to attend the wedding of any of her nieces, nephews, or grandchildren who couldn't eat, talk, or sleep through the night by the time they walked down the aisle.
My first thought was that there might be a connection here: the inability to do these things might also adversely affect the ability to meet or secure a mate. However, I think that the whole marital aspect of the observation was probably incidental to the fact that we were having this conversation at a wedding and not meant to be either a predictive timeline of when I could expect my daughter to achieve all three of these milestones - it only took twenty-eight years but she fell in love and finally finished a plate of food sitting down! - or a sign of nuptial preparedness - alright kid, you're six and you didn't get up to ask for water once last night, time to get hitched.
I have tried not to be overly concerned with developmental milestones. Kids come into their own on their own terms in their own time. But my daughter is a (somewhat) late talker, which is not to say that she has an excessive speech delay, but rather that we started to notice that while other kids were stumbling through the stages of more coherent babbling, and then stringing words together in cute but mystifying combinations, my daughter was grunting, panting, shrieking, and showing zero interest in learning any words beyond her first six: mama, dada, this, that, go, do.
I guess if you're going to choose six words to speak at that stage in life, those are pretty good ones, because you can actually use them to communicate a lot of things fairly effectively. (Mama do! Mama go! Dada this! Go do!) The key word being fairly, and the key point being effectively for her. The rest of us, her minions, were left scrambling around like lunatics, asking cascades of questions (do you want Cheerios? bubbles? salami? Elmo?) and furiously pointing at things as if we were playing a spectacularly lame two-player game of charades. Some days it felt like living in a house full of Sisyphean mimes, endlessly churning through the same exhausting array of exaggerated, ineffective gestures.
But slowly, slowly the words started coming.
Many are incomprehensible. Many more are incomprehensible without context. And a lot of them sound totally crazy, which I find completely charming. For example, she pronounces Fresca (that refreshing low-calorie grapefruit soda I consumed by the case in high school) "Fresick" and runs around yelling it like a deranged Hobbit. Fresick! Fresick! Fresick!
Things are starting to pick up, just as everyone said they would, and watching this happen is pretty darn amazing, just as everyone said it would be.
We're getting lots of random word strings now like "Mama! Gym! Cry! Goldfish! Gym! Dance! Potty! Little! Ladybug! Bye!" So I wasn't really prepared for my daughter to look at me and speak a coherent sentence, her first to my knowledge: "Boobies are good!"
How perfectly delightful, for at least three reasons:
1.) It's true
2.) My boobies are the ones with which she has had the most contact and a vote in their favor is always appreciated
3.) It shows that she is aware of certain key cultural trends, in other words: I have succeeded in not raising her under a rock.
There may be hope for her yet. Fresick!