Supposedly, a young child's first words are "dadda" or "momma"--or so I've heard.
That certainly has not been the case for my sixteen-month old daughter.
The first word she learned to understand consistently--and appropriately--was "no". She's not allowed to walk here, she can't touch that and she must wait for dinner.
Quickly following "no"' was "please". In this case, she learned the word as sign-language--as well as "milk" and "all done". She was taught "lets pray" as well, clasping her little fingers together before meal time.
Here first verbal word was "baby". She sees a Gerber baby on the bottle and say "baby". She sees a child and says "baby". There is also "dog" (or "oof, oof") and there is the ever present 'hi'.
Surely after such an extensive vocabulary the words 'mom' or 'dad' would quickly follow.
She soon learned "water" ("wa"). And like most toddlers she enjoys a good walk ("wok").
She then picked up "puffs" and "clock" and "hat". But no "dadda".
A few weeks ago she identified the container of baby oil as "o-oi-l". And just the other day she finally put a word to the helium-filled, string-tied rubber toys she is fond of as "ba".
In fact, she even knows the name of a favorite doll, Sally as "Sal"--endearment for a doll but no "dadda"!
How did this vocabulary list grow these many months? Through the hard and diligent work of "dadda" and "momma"! We'd point at an object and state the name. And we did that as consistently as possible.
Repetition is the mother of learning after all. Yet still no "dadda".
Until today. She walked (or rather stumbled) around the room as usual but suddenly pointed at me and said "Dadda"! In shock, I stared at her while my wife pointed at me and asked, "Whose that"?
Renee raised her arm with certainty, pointed at me and opened her mouth: "Dadda".
I stared in wonder. And I smiled. She called me "Dadda".