When we were on the Big Lesbian Camp-Out 2006, the three of us were in the tent getting ready for the day. Julia had needed her diaper changed twice during the night and Kristin asked me if I could hand her the dirty diapers so she could throw them away. I reached for the diaper nearest me and handed it to Kristin. Then I turned to get the other diaper only to find Julia already handing it to Kristin. She had understood Kristin's request to me!
We'd been making small requests of Julia for some time. Things like "can you get your ball?" "can you throw it to me?" "can you pick up the block?" but nothing really complicated. This request that Kristin made to me and Julia acted out, blew our minds. Because even though it was phrased very similarly to the way we ask her to do things, it wasn't addressed to her and we didn't expect her to understand it. Now we know better.
As Julia's language skills have improved, we've been making a conscious effort to ask her more questions, request more things of her, involve her in group conversations. Her language skills have exploded. She's turned into a parrot -- repeating everything we say. We didn't expect to have a parrot on our hands for at least another six months. True, not everyone can understand all of her words. She still lacks the physical skills to make certain phonemes, but we can understand what she's trying to say. She even picks words to repeat out of songs playing on the stereo. If she hears a word she can say she'll start singing along, using that one word over and over. Or just crooning, copying the notes with her voice. She's a chatterbox.
Two of her most frequently-used words are no ('na') and yes ('ya'). She normally drags that ya out in a sassy, smart-alec-y way. Example: Adult is in the bathroom or kitchen or bedroom, out of direct sight of Julia but very close by. Suddenly the adult asks, "Julia? are you playing in the dog's bowls?" a pause, then, "yeeeeeaaaaaaahhhhh" and then splashing recommences at furious pace so she can complete her mayhem-making before the adult comes to scoop her up. We think it's funny, but we try not to laugh.
So, obviously she understands quite a bit.
Sunday night we were sitting at a restaurant waiting for our order to be taken. I had given Julia a spoon to entertain herself with. She was busily banging it as hard as she could on the glass table top, making QUITE the racket. Kristin looked over at her and asked, "Is that really necessary?" Julia stopped banging, looked thoughtful for a moment, gave us a grin and a sly look, and then said her saucy little yes as she began banging on the table again. Kristin and I couldn't help it, we started laughing. And then she started laughing and I took the spoon away.
Could she really have understood that oblique sentence? Or was it something else in the way Kristin asked what she askd that let Julia know what she meant? But then, if she only understood that Kristin wanted her to stop banging, why didn't she say no? Why the yes as if she really understood?
She must really have understood.
Raising her is, I think, going to be quite exciting.