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Tongue twisters and nursery rhymes


Diary of a First-Time Dad
Edwin McGreal

While your child’s first steps are a very definite milestone, a very definite moment, the first words are less so.
It’s not one singular, moment but a gradual phase. Frankie has been saying ‘Mam’ for months now. Less so ‘Dada’ (but at least she’s saying it!). Now she is really trying to get her mouth around other words. She’s 21 months since last Tuesday, and you really get the sense she is on the brink of a breakthrough.
There’s loads of babble out of her, and she has gone off on a few monologues, but these make about as much sense as Boris Johnson.
However, she has the hang of a few bits. She has mastered one of her cousins’ names, for example. Áine might be a name few outside of Ireland can master, but Frankie is doing quite well with it and will happily say ‘On-ya’ when prompted or when she sees Áine coming in for a visit. She says it with excitement too, associating Áine with play-time.
‘Oh no’ is another favourite phrase, and while it started out as meaning absolutely anything, she has refined it to its proper use. So the closing of a door or turning off of the TV will be greeted with a loud ‘Oh no’ – but not in an anguished way, more in a way of devilment.
Trust me, it’s not words she reaches for when she’s really annoyed. If I or Aisling are spotted leaving the room, the crying starts. Stealth is vital.
‘Nee’ is another favourite. It’s her attempt at ‘nice’. It’s uttered when she’s eating food she likes, which is pretty much every type of food we give her.
Frankie loves her nursery rhymes and is becoming a dab hand at asking her father or mother to read or sing them to her. Not having the words to ask us is proving no impediment.
I’ll be sitting down and she will come over with one of her books, hand it to me and then either put her arms out to be lifted or climb up, and then snuggle in beside me, open the page on the rhyme she wants and off we go. She does the same with Aisling. It melts your heart every time.
‘Hey diddle diddle’ is her personal favourite at the moment, and she will echo certain parts with you, knowing they are coming up and that she can get her mouth around them.
It’s a really enjoyable phase she is in right now because she is showing more and more affection, and she’s interacting and having fun more and more with every passing day – but with few enough words, there are limits on how much she can wrap us around her little finger.
Or maybe she has that achieved already too.
> In his fortnightly column, first-time-father Edwin McGreal  charts the ups and downs of the biggest wake-up call of his life: parenthood.