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Chatty Cathy - Er, Cora

Cora’s entering that entertaining
stage where she is starting to try to communicate,
“ooh”ing and “aah”ing for all she’s
worth. She’s been doing it for a couple weeks now, mostly
just to me during quiet moments together. But she’s been
gradually coming out of her shell and now speaks to a variety of

Maddie, of course, is high on her list. It
took Cora a while to start talking to Maddie, partly because Maddie
doesn’t really understand what Cora’s trying to do and
partly because Cora’s so in awe of Maddie, she ends up
staring at her transfixed. Then there’s Daddy, who has been
graced with some whopper conversations recently. One of her
all-time favorite conversationalists, though, is the lion on her
playmat: she’ll hang out on the mat and babble away to the
poor feline, talking his ear off about who knows what.

I remember this stage with Madeleine, and how amazed I was at such
early language skills. When Maddie first began cooing tentatively
at me I didn’t get she was trying to engage in a conversation
and so simply stared. She would quickly run out of steam and become
quiet. But when I began mimicking her sounds back to her, she
became delighted and our back and forths would last for several
minutes, gaining in speed and usually ending in laughter on both

This time around I quickly recognized Cora’s early attempts
at talking and have encouraged them as much as possible. Which
means her babble words have developed to conversational patterns
astonishingly quickly. And my baby isn’t content with simple
verbal conversations: she throws in an entire vocabulary of
elaborate shoulder shrugs and chin gestures, as if she’s been
raised by Italians.

I’ve noticed that Cora likes to converse most at two points
in her routine – right after waking, and right after eating.
Pick the girl up from her nap, and she’s all about telling
you her most recent dream, or what she’d like to do next that
day, or how pretty that sunbeam is coming in through the window.
The key for these conversations is quiet time and good eye contact;
bring her into a distracting, noisy environment and she quickly
shuts down. But bring her out while Maddie’s napping and
she’s happy as a lark.

Her other favorite time – nursing – is the one that
cracks me up the most. Unless she’s sleepy and moving towards
a nap, you can see the wheels turning in Cora’s head as she
gets situated on the boppy for a meal. There’s this look of,
“Ok, I’m really interested in eating, but don’t
go anywhere because I have something to say” on her face.
She’ll scarf down her food, draining a breast in around seven
minutes, and then start chattering away before her mouth is even
empty. Soft, dove-like coos at first, her vocalization quickly
turns more insistent if I’m reading and have not yet put down
my book and looked at her. I’ll converse a few moments, then
say, “So are you finished eating?” and move to wrap it
up. I swear, she nearly holds up a finger as if to say, “Oh,
no no no, I’m not finished!” before taking a brief sip
to demonstrate her point – just long enough to justify
staying there a while longer – then going back to her
conversation. She’d stay there chatting for half an hour if
I’d let her.

I see a future that involves the debate team. Either that, or a
radio disc jockey. Though in my family, it’s good practice
now for trying to get a word in edge-wise.


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