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"Mama, Mama, Mama!"

Cora’s got a half-dozen or so
“words” going on now – Mama, Dada, ‘Amma
(Gamma), Mah-Mah (Maddie), bye-bye, ball. Or should I say,
she’s got a half-dozen or so words we can understand, since
Cora’s actual vocabulary count seems to run in the hundreds:
that girl can take a breath and talk nonstop for sixty seconds,
pointing and gesturing the whole time, before running out of steam.
I’ve learned to jump into the conversation quickly during a
breath pause, lest it become a monologue instead of a two-person

And my job, by the way, in these conversations, is simply to guess
what she’s trying to say and repeat it so she can confirm or
deny the rumors of her intentions. “A gabba gabba goo goo
durah mah!” she’ll say. “You want to go outside
and play?” I’ll guess. “Deh!” she’ll
confirm, saying yes.

Regardless of the topic of her upcoming
discourse, most of Cora’s speeches tend to start the same way
these days: “Mama, Mama, Mama!” This is clearly
Cora’s way of saying, “Are you listening? Pay
attention! Because I’m about to ask for something, and you
better understand so you can give it to me!”

I can tell the urgency of the request by the volume and speed of
the initiation. “Mama, mama!” may preclude a
conversation that translates to, “Hey, lady, I’m
thinking maybe we’ll read a book – what do you
think?” whereas “MAMAMAMAMAMAMAMA!” is usually
followed by the equivalent of, “LADY! I see Maddie eating
something yummy and I WANT IT! Over THERE! Over THERE! See it? Do
you see it? I can almost reach it myself! Give it GIVE IT GIVE

The whole household has acknowledged that, while she definitely
calls me “Mama”, Cora now uses that as her sign-on, her
test balloon, her initiation check before sending Morse code
requesting help or provisions. If Gamma and Cora are in the kitchen
and Cora’s toy rolls under the kitchen table, unattainable,
Cora will look at Gamma and say, “Mama mama mama!” then
point under the table and explain the dilemma.

On the one hand, it’s cute and makes understanding her that
much easier. On the other hand, I fear this shorthand means she
translates “Mother” to mean “personal

Ah, how early they’re learning these days.


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