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These days Simon strikes me as something of an apprentice wizard, possessed of the skills and tools that he needs to master his universe, but still unsure of how to use them all. He’s using all of his senses to explore this world. He touches things to tell me if they are hot or not, and he is making increasing use of his tippy-toes to grab objects formerly outside of his reach. For the most part, though, his primary exploration is verbal.

We’ve honestly lost count of all of Simon’s words. We still don’t get much in the way of sentences, but each day he almost casually pops up with a word we’ve never heard before. Last night it was “ladder,” as in the yellow ladder on his toy fire engine, “robe,” as in the little terry bathrobe that used to be his cousin Ben’s that he loves to wear,  and “walk,” as in when he takes my hand and wants to lead me around the house.

He’s also combining words more often. He’ll tell us, for example if he’s wearing a “boo day-pu” (blue diaper), “dee-dee day-pu” (red diaper, long story), or “pupul day-pu” (purple diaper). He knows which car belongs to which person, and will helpfully point out “Daddy Car” or “Bubbie Car.” We’re even getting some prepositions these days, mainly “up” when he wants to be picked up, “down” when he wants, well, down, and “of” as in “cu-wawa”, which is Simonese for “cup of water.” The “of” is implied, I assure you.

Whenever Simon uses a new word, he gets an impish grin on his face and then, if we comment on it, he smiles widely and sometimes even claps. It is clear to me that Simon regards language as a sign of power over his world and as an entrée into society. You can see his delight in realizing that he can use words to explain things, show us things, and ask for things.

Needless to say, this delight is mutual. Every day that Simon says or understands more is a day that we can understand him better, explain things to him better, and teach him more. Some of these things are pretty prosaic, like the names of our cats or the Thomas and Friends engines. (It’s handy for him that Percy is the name of an engine and of one of our cats.) Other things are more profound. He’s just started to say his own name, for example, and yesterday he counted “one, two” for the first time. And still other things are just fun, like when he supplies the word “spider” at the right time during “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” or when I sing “Shabbat Shalom” and he replies with a quick, high-pitched “hey!”

Most of all, Simon’s chatterboxiness just makes me supremely grateful. Linguistically, he is right on track. He’s not like his classmate Greta, who one day greeted Simon at the door with an enthusiastic, “Good morning, Simon. I made coffee!” But neither is he worryingly silent. He’s probably about average, but when you consider how much understanding and development goes into language acquisition, average is nothing short of amazing.

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