As I’ve mentioned (probably many) times, while Vincent has always been hyper-verbal, when it comes to Aidan, now 19 months, not so much. He says “Hi,” “Bye-bye,” “Cat,” and, occasionally, “Daddy.”  Yes, there’s a vital word missing here.

He also has learned and uses consistently some sign language, especially the sign for “more.” He uses that to indicate more of just about anything. He puckers his mouth when he wants a kiss. He shakes his head, “No,” and bobs his entire body to say, “Yes.” I taught him “I love you,” in sign language by pointing to myself, crossing my arms, then pointing to him while I say it. His version is to point at himself with both hands, hold his arms, uncrossed, to his chest as if he’s hugging something, and then push both his hands at me, while he says, “Unh…unh…UNH!” I like his version very much.

His range of sounds is really quite expressive.

A low grunty “uuhhh” functions as his default word/words. If he says this while rubbing his head or patting his knee, he’s saying,”I bumped my head, ” or “I hurt my knee.”  If he says it while pointing at the faucet or the fridge, he’s telling us that he wants a drink or something to eat.

Whenever he says it, what we’ve come to understand is that he is using it intentionally, trying to tell us something. It’s not a cry, or a whine, or other form of complaint. He’s talking to us.

Having a conversation with Vincent is one of the great joys of my life. He’s creative, funny, thoughtful. I’m one of six, so I know better than to burden Aidan with expectations, but there’s knowing and knowing, and he’s been more than a little confounding until now. And I’m a poet, a reader, someone who prizes words; it’s hard not to long for him to start using some himself.

But discovering this, his grunty little sentences, is a revelation. Aidan may not be speaking much yet, but he is indeed learning language structure, and he is communicating. And if you’re paying attention, understanding him is the easiest thing in the world.