Posted by: dave | April 14, 2015

A few words about Otis


Otis has been relatively slow to speak compared with Anya.

They seem to have different learning styles: I’d almost characterise her as deductive, moving forward in gradual steps, and him as inductive, gathering information more slowly from a range of sources before reaching the same place in one big leap.

He’s going through that leap at the moment, and so while he’s probably got a smaller repertoire of words than Anya did at this age it’s growing fast.

Mami: His first word of course, which he’s been using for a while now. When in distress he chants it like he’s telling a rosary: “Ma-mi, Ma-mee, Ma-MEE, Ma-mi.”

Dada: I have a very dear memory of going in early one morning — Otis tends to wake up not long after 5am at present — and picking him out of his cot to lie down with him on the sofabed in his room. I lay back, woozily cuddling him on my chest. He recovered a bit from his usual waking-up distress, spread out his arms to pat my shoulders, and softly mumbled “Dada. Dada” into the darkness.

Nina: Just to prick any over-the-top notions of parental importance, his third word was “Nina” — one of the teachers at his daycare centre.

Car: This is a tricky one. He says it a lot when trotting down the street and pointing to cars so we naturally thought it meant “car” (toddler protocol in these situations is to say “car”, then go up close and see if you can blacken your fingers sticking them through the hubcaps). But he also uses it for trucks, buses, toy trucks, scooters, and bicycles. So clearly, we thought, it means “wheeled vehicle”.

But then we noticed how, in our nearest playground, he would set out quite deliberately through the park to stand in awe next to a house and point up to the external air-conditioning unit turbine on the first floor, proclaiming “car”. So I think the meaning encompasses circular objects generally, or at least all of those that make engine-like noises.

Caa: A cat. To the untrained ear almost indistinguishable from “car” (qv.) but I think I’ve exhausted the conceptual flexibility of that word.

Bee-Beep: He loves “The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round”, and whenever we sing the verse about how the horn on the bus goes, he says this.

Shh: This is what the Mummies on the Bus say to the Babies on the Bus (who go Waaah Waaah Waaah). He does understand the concept, and always accompanies it with the finger-to-the-lips gesture. This is useful when I’m trying to smuggle him downstairs for breakfast in the wee hours without waking Anya: one “Shh” and his 18-month-old babbling lapses to expectant silence.

Baidah: I may have mentioned before that he loves spiders. This gets said a lot as he’s exploring the garden. Emphasis on the second syllable: “Bai-dah. Bai-DAH.”



  1. Love it! I have very clear memories when we were on holiday and you were 14 months. You were awake in the wee small hours and I gave in and brought you into our bed so you didn’t wake Robert. You didn’t say anything but patted me and put an arm round me and gave we a wonderful smile. These moments are never forgotten, Dada!

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