Daily Operation

You Can’t Spell “ELLISON” Without “LiL NOISE”

And I thought that Ellison had begun mastering the babble. Ellison has taken baby language to new levels over the last couple of week. Back when it first started surfacing (almost three months to the day), it consisted of really three definite sounds. The shriek, the squeal and the nondescript babble. I was just glad that I didn’t have to endure any more of the colicky dying-animal screams that we were challenged with for the first three months, really. She could proclaim in my face, “The Yankees are the single greatest franchise the sporting world has ever known and Public Enemy really sucks, dad” and I’d just shrug my shoulders and say, “Hey, it beats screaming.”

Now, as she’s been soaking up a copious cocktail of language from Bootsy Collins shotcalling, british documentary voiceovers, Dan Patrick, Lisa Loeb singing lullabies, intermittent Spanish from the Malaves, Q-Tip, Chuck D, Uncle Todd (who has become well schooled in baby talk) and every passing goo-gooing churchgoer or supermarket shopper. Throw daddy on top with long monologues about dirty diapers, Latin funk and the greatness of Cosa Nostra, in-depth analysis of how the Red Sox will climb out of the cellar and, additionally, how stupid it was for every sports writer to proclaim this Red Sox squad as an automatic World Series contender without proving a single thing on the field (I think every single one of these monologues ended with the comment, “They ain’t done a damn thing yet”…how awesome would it be to hear Ellison sneak that out in front of Nana?). Mommy is less topical and usually works with simple observations around the room. Textbook in dealing with a little baby. And, of course, showering her with praise, love and laughter.

Ah/”Argh”: This bizarrely entertaining blather usually starts when she’s faced with a challenge and she’s forced to resolve it. It starts low usually and then escalates into a growling noise that can be heard in all corners of the house. I liken it to the sound I used to make as a child to represent two Hot Wheels drag racing across my bedroom floor. This one’s crazy entertaining. It’s easiest to get it out of her while she’s leaning on you trying to jump over you or when she’s crawling/inchworming and she’s hit a dead end.

Huh/Uh: Parents are encouraged to always talk to their baby because that’s where they learn language. In fact, it’s even more encouraged that adults carry on conversations around the baby as an exhibit of language with the baby soaking it all in. Being that Ellison has never been short on conversation or explosive distraction to other’s conversations, she’s developed a “call and response” out of simple “uh’s” or the interrogative “huh?” The “huh?” probably came from listening to her mother and father. In fact, a few years back I got so tired of hearing “huh” that I asked if my lovely wife could replace it with: “I’m sorry, I didn’t understand what you said. Can you please repeat it?” Of course, I’m guilty as well. Over time, I’ve transformed my “huh’s” into “what was that?” which almost sounds like you’re about to put a beatdown on someone when I just read it in text. Ellison however picked up on these single-syllable barks and has found conduct a conversation out of simple caveman-like grunts. For instance, I’ll be holding her and she’ll hit me with a “huh?” and I’ll hit her back. It happens again. And then again. And then, like she understands, she returns with a “uh.” If you were to translate it, it would sound like much like this:

“What was that?” “Wait, what did you say?” “I’m sorry, what was that?” “Oh, okay.”

Ba-Ba: When you’re trying to get your baby to speak in complete sentences, it’s gonna take baby steps. And most books or resources will tell you that a “b” and the “a” are the most accomplishable elements in baby language. Not sure if there’s any connection with them also being the first two letters of the english alphabet, but if they’re gonna start anywhere, it’s not gonna be “gaga” or “goo goo.” The “ba’s” usually seem to rise when she’s bored or we’re in some sort of commute somewhere. I can hear her delivering a entire paragraphs of “ba’s” in her crib when she’s just starting to rise. They’re cheap and easy like Ramen noodles, but when you’re baby’s trying to get going, they gotta first develop the “ba-ba’s.”

Da-Da: Now, once they’ve eventually grown tired of “ba-ba,” they’ll then navigate their way to the second easiest consonant which is the letter “d” to develop “da-da” then causing the father’s ego to spread wide like a peacock and then hold it over his lovely wife like it was something he orchestrated when, in reality, it’s just the second easiest thing to say. And I don’t want her to call me “da-da” anyway. Now, when you’re listening to an aimless and frustratingly endless sea of grunts, moans and otherwise unintelligible garble, hearing “da-da” is like hearing the voice of God himself. It’s like the heavens part and those two syllables split the air like a clap of thunder. The world stops moving and everything pauses if just for one solitary second…and then it’s right back to “ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba.” Hey, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Or a seven months either.

The Laughs: Out of the many explorations that Ellison is going through in her language, she’s developed one helluva chuckle or laugh. And, lucky for me, while my humor is often lost on adults, Ellison seems to eat it up. She’s got three distinguishable laughs. There’s the “chuckle” (which sounds a lot like Butthead), the “giggle” and the “scream.” Now, to accomplish these, there has to be a stimulus. I’m usually quick to provide her with that. The chuckle and the giggle don’t take too much work. The screaming laugh, however, you gotta work hard for. Most effective way to do it is to pull her hands or feet over your eyes while she’s laying on her back and play peek-a-boo. Yeah, it’s a little gimmicky, but what good comedian isn’t a little gimmicky.

That’s it, folks. Girls are Cool on delay right now due to unforeseen circumstances (well, not entirely unforeseen) that have put me behind schedule. It’s not like you enjoy reading my babble anyway as apparent by the statistics from the day I simply just put pictures of Ellison up to tide you over while I cleared my plate. That’s a nice shot to the ego. Probably deserved it. It’s Ellison’s world. I just change the diapers. It’s Friday. Ellison hopes you have a great weekend.

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