“Mama” and “dada.” These are the two words we dream of hearing. The words we anticipate with our hearts in our mouths. The words we listen hard for. They’re the first words we expect to hear out of our babies because those are the words to fill not only our hearts but our lives with joy. We do all we can to make it happen. We browse through the websites, all the newspaper articles, all the parenting books, anything we can get our hands on along with the oh so important prompting. We talk to our babies for hours on end in the hopes that it’ll help them learn how to talk, for themselves. We use their names and our names and simple non complex words with as few syllables as possible; anything to help the process along.
Then it happened. There it was. At first, I questioned myself. I had imagined it so many times in the past, had I imagined this too? Was it all in my head? “Dada.” Just like that. It was a split second. But the effect it had was indefinitely long. For months I had tried and tried to get her to say something, anything. Now it finally happened, and what did I do? I stared at her. One second. Two seconds. Three seconds. Then it really registered. She said “dada.” That was her first word. The first word she had ever uttered in the midst of all her baby babbling. One word; two syllables; the most beautiful syllables in existence.
What I felt in that moment is indescribable. It was a mix of joy, love, ecstasy, grief, excitement, and awe. This tiny little babbling creature who had made absolute zero sense when she babbled to her toys or to me, as she sat on her high-chair, or cot, or pram, or on the floor, had now said something that made sense; A coherent word; A real word. A word uttered by humans, often enough. After the initial shock had worn off, I called my husband and then commenced my attempts to get her to repeat herself. For a few minutes I must have looked insane, repeating the word “dada” to this tiny human who was staring at me, all blank in her eyes and the most innocent smile on her lips. Then as my husband rushed into the room, there it was again. “Dada.” This time, addressed to the person the title belonged to. Same as me, he stopped short, one foot in the door, as the sound reached his ear.
It was quite a bittersweet experience for me; hearing her say her first word. On the one hand, it meant she was growing up. On the other hand, it meant she was growing up. It was the beginning of a whole new stage of life and a whole new range of interactions to be had. It signified the transition that was taking place from a tiny blob to a human being. This little creature was no longer a little creature. She was on her path to life; A step closer to growing up and leaving us.
In that moment, I truly felt like I had made an impact on her. That first word opened up a bridge to a whole lot of new words and conversations that were a mix of babbling and sense. Soon she started mimicking things that both of said often. Things like “Hon,” “baby,” and “puppy.” She even identified our dog by name. “Spot” was one of her more often used words. Every time it was said, a golden ball of fluff would come bouncing into the room towards the baby girl, effectively covering the said baby girl in canine slobber.
The moment your baby says his/her first word(s) is a moment you will treasure for the rest of your life. It was for me. It’s a unique kind of special. When it happens, make the most of it. Repeat the story to anyone and everyone who will listen. Brag about it to your friends, to your parents, to your cousins, to you colleagues, to your boss, to your in-laws, to your neighbors, to your babysitter, and the security guard. It’s a special moment in your life. A story worth listening to and one you will never get tired of telling.