I can't remember what she said first. I guess that sets me apart from other moms; I don't remember my child's first word. What I do remember is practice and practice and practice. Taking her to speech four or five times a week where she sat at a table way too big for her, where they said, "repeat after me," and at two years old, she did her best.
Forcing myself to model her talker 15 minutes at a time. Typing out everything I could think of. TODAY-IS-TUESDAY. I-AM-WEAR-ING-PANTS. WE-GO-TO-TARGET.
I remember lining up her speech cards so she could jump over them, her making attempts at each one in a bouncing squeal. "Boo!" "Pie!" "Neigh!" I don't remember when, but one day the attempts were less like attempts and more like words.
She would bring her talker to us and say I-WANT-BLUE and then point at the tv and say, say "Joe."
And then words became longer words, became phrases. She had new speech cards. "Paddle boat!" "Apple pie!"
Words became sentences. Her own sentences.
"Where is Joe, Daddy?"
And then sentences were the norm. At some point her talker stopped being a talker and started being the little iPad.
And now. "No, Daddy, it's not a tiger shark, it's a whale shark."
"Mommy, can you move your soda so I can lay with you?"
Now she can talk, as if she always could, as if none of this ever happened. But of course all of it did. Months and years of work and worry led us to this place where she can turn to me and say, "I think we should have ice cream for dinner."
She is an amazing intellect, a profoundly hard worker, and an unbelievable success story.
But right now she is just a 3-year-old who is up a little too late past her bedtime.