When your baby is 4 months, you start to talk about what his first word will be.
When your baby is 6 months, you start to search for meaning in the babbling.
By 9 or 10 months, your baby is carrying out long “conversations” with you in some other-worldly language that only other babies can understand.
By 12 months, your baby is saying recognizable words like “mama”, “dada”, “car” and “ruff” (which, loosely translated, means “dog”).
By24 months, your baby is dazzling you with the rate at which they learn and use new words.
By 36 months, they’re starting to sound like a real kid.
By 48 months, you’re starting to wonder where the off-switch is.
If your first child is currently younger than 36 months, you’re thinking “That’s terrible! I would never want to stop listening to my child speak! What kind of mother gets tired of hearing her own child’s voice?”. If your child is approaching 40 months, you’re chuckling to yourself thinking “That’ll be me soon!”. And if your child is anywhere near the 4 year mark, you’re saying “What? Can you repeat that? Mini Me is singing right now.”
I’m lucky — all of my children learned very early on that if there were no adults available to talk to, it was completely socially acceptable to talk to themselves. Never mind the strange looks Mommy got from other women over cups of coffee, or the bemused “Is he talking to himself?” heard from moms whose kids were way past talking to themselves.
But sometimes, even if I’m not required to actively participate in the conversation, the constant chatter starts to become … draining. Even slightly grating.
This is why God created children with a basic need for many more hours of sleep than their parents. It is also why He created really loud music (which does a fairly effective job when you’re trapped in a vehicle with no nap-time in sight). Both are opportunities for Mommies and Daddies around the globe to recharge their ears, one way or another, in an attempt to conserve their listening energy for another full day of questions, songs, stories, and I love you’s.
And when you’re recharged, then you have the energy to listen, really listen, to what that little voice is saying, and to look into young eyes and feel like you’re as young as she is when she tells you about her adventure with the ant in the sand pit.
That’s when time slows, and that’s when we grown-ups have a chance to become children once again, if only for a second or two.