Thursday, August 30, 2007

Julie Does It Her Way*

Years and years and years ago, long before Maya was born, Granny was a young mother called Mom and Uncle Richard was a little boy called Richard and Maya's Mama was a very little girl called Julie. And they all lived together in Berkeley while Mom went to the university.

Now, Maya knows that every person starts out as a brand new baby, and brand new babies can't talk and they can't walk. Maya has seen, on Maya TV, herself when she was just a little baby and couldn't walk or talk. And every day Maya learns new words and learns to say old words better. Why, Maya used to say Mike Mugalin, and now she says Mike Mulligan. And she used to say valina, and now she says vanilla. So, she knows that learning to talk takes some time and you get better at it as you get older. Most babies start with a single word, and then they learn to say two at a time. It is the same with walking — babies start by standing up and holding on to something and then standing and not holding. Then they walk and hold on and then they walk without holding. That is the way it is usually done.

Indeed, that is the way Richard learned to talk and walk. When he was nine months old, he pointed to the light and said "light!" and that was his very first word. The next day he could say another word and then another. And then he learned to say "What's that?", a very useful phrase indeed, because then Mom would tell him what it was and he would say that word. When Richard was eleven months old, he went to see the doctor. The doctor asked Mom, "Is he trying to talk yet?" and Mom said, "He knows 25 words." Then the doctor, who was very young and hadn't met any children as clever as the children in our family, said, "Well, no. He's saying mamammama and you are thinking he is saying Mama. He's too young to be saying real words." And Mom said, "Richard, say hello to the doctor." And Richard said, "Hello, doctor." And then the doctor said, "Next time I will listen to the mother. Then I won't sound like such an idiot."

Richard started standing up against things when he was about eight and one half months old, and soon wherever Mom went in the house, there he would follow. He might have to lurch from wall to wall and go the long way around, but he could follow her from room to room and by the time he was nine months old and saying "light" he could walk without holding on to something.

When Richard was two years old, Julie was born. Mom and Richard were both as excited as excited about that, and she was a delightful baby and they loved her very much and she loved them very much and life was just wonderful with the three of them to love each other. And every day, Richard learned new things and Julie learned new things and even Mom, who was going to the university like Maya's Dado is now, learned new things. And one of the new things that Mom was learning was child development. She was learning all about how children grow and learn. Her professor said, "Girls learn to talk and walk at a younger age than boys. Second children learn to talk and walk at a younger age than first children. It isn't that the second child is smarter, it is just that the second child wants to keep up with the first child."

"Well," thought Mom, "Richard was a boy and a first child and he learned to walk and talk at nine months. Julie is a girl and a second child — my professor says she will learn earlier than Richard did! She will really be young!"

Well, Julie got to be nine months old, and she hadn't taken a step and she hadn't said a word! "Good heavens," thought Mom, "my professor was wrong. I wonder when she will talk and walk?" Well, the days went by and the weeks went by and the months went by. Not a step. Not a word. Mom was tempted to be concerned, and indeed if she were the worrying kind she might have been. However, since she is not the worrying kind (unlike her own Little Mama and indeed Julie herself) she noticed it but didn't worry. Mom could see that wherever Julie wanted to get she crawled to quite nicely. And really, she didn't have to talk — she had Richard. If Julie wanted something, she would make a motion and Richard would say, "Julie is hungry" or "Julie wants you to play Revolver (an album by the Beatles)" or "Julie wants to play outside." And Richard would always be right. And Julie would always get what she wanted. Besides, Mom remembered how the doctor had been wrong about Richard and she decided that sometimes experts made mistakes and she wasn't going to worry about it.

Well, one day when Julie was 15 months old, and Mom was beginning to wonder if she was going to ever walk, up she stood in the middle of the room. Off she walked. And she walked and she walked and she walked. All day long, all she did was walk. She walked until she was tired, and then she laid down wherever she happened to be and fell asleep. And she did that and she did that and she did that. Once she even fell asleep under the kitchen table. The next day, she did the same thing. After that, she walked wherever she wanted to go. "Well," thought Mom, "not only didn't she do it at the same age that Richard did, she didn't do it in the same way that Richard did. Julie certainly does it her way."

Now, when Julie had been walking for about a week, Mom and Richard and Julie went to Stockton to spend the weekend with Mom's Little Mama and Daddy and her sister Colleen. They arrived Friday afternoon, and that night everyone went to bed and to sleep. The next morning, Julie woke up early. Mom and Richard and even her Aunt Colleen were still asleep. But her Grandma and Grandpa (Mom's Little Mama and Daddy) were up sitting at the table drinking coffee. Julie got up, and walked out to the kitchen. She looked around and then she said, "Where's the little dog?" And that was the very first thing she ever said! After that, she talked all the time. She said things Mom had no idea she could say. And to this day, Granny is a little puzzled why she kept it a secret that she could talk. It was partly that she didn't need to say anything as long as Richard was there to talk for her. And partly, she wasn't going to do it until she could do it perfectly. Or it just may be that that is the way a Wait-A-Bit does it. Or it may be that this second child didn't want to keep up with the older child, she wanted to do it better than him. However it was, Julie did it her way. And to this day, she still does.

* A story I wrote for Maya when she was about three years old.


Mommy said...

Hi Maya's Granny,

Thank you for sharing the story.
I am looking forward to go the family way soon.


J at said...

I did it, Myyyyyy Wayyyyyy......

:) - Sorry, I couldn't resist.

Cherry said...

I love this story!

Sally said...

Such a great post, and as usual when I read about kids, I'm reminded of my own, especially my grandchildren. The first thing my granddaughter said was "frigerfrator", and then "I've got the dinarinea". I'm waiting now to see what my great granddaughter comes up with; have a feeling she'll take after her mama. I really enjoyed this post!

Starshine said...

Sweet post. I love that you have written all of this down for Maya. What a rich written family history!