My daughter, Lisa, said “mama” at the age of five months. (If there hadn’t been witnesses, no one would ever believe me.)  She walked at nine months and by the time she was a year old spoke in intelligible sentences and was even analytical.

To celebrate her first birthday we took her to a local toy store to choose whatever present she might want.  After deliberating for about a half-hour, her choice came down to two plastic lambs on wheels that could move behind you like a real animal.  One was a beautiful black shiny lamb and the other sparkling white.

After thinking it over, Lisa looked up at us and said, (and I quote verbatim) “I prefer the white one to the black one because I will be able to see him in the dark.”  

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The looks on the faces of the other shoppers proclaimed their shock at hearing this tiny little girl speak so clearly.   As I moved away I heard my husband laugh delightedly.  One of the customers had watched for me to leave before asking Jason, “Is she a midget?” (That was the word used for a little person back then.)  She wasn’t; she was just precocious.

Lisa continued astounding people, even my mother, with her knowledge and vocabulary. For instance, when Ilene was born, her big sister was 16 months old. One day, Lala (maternal grandmother), was changing Ilene and Lisa handed her a tube of Desitin ointment, “In case the baby has diaper rash,” she said.   My mother was speechless at being told what to do by a child not yet 17 months!

The newest addition to our family is three month old Dylan, Lisa’s grandson and my great grandson. We met for the first time last week and as we looked at each other he not only gave me a big smile, but laughed out loud! (We probably knew each other in a former life.)

There’s nothing so gratifying as watching kittens, puppies and babies learning about their new world, because to them everything is clean and beautiful and needing to be explored.

Some of us become jaded as we get older because of our expectations, but little ones have no expectations, only the desire to touch, taste, smell, and add to their experiences.  It is our duty to help them explore the unknown and instill in them the desire to keep on trying to expand their universe. We must never discourage them but protect their dreams of succeeding even if we deem it folly. All three of our children were brought up to be polite but to always question authority if they disagree.  Only by questioning can we truly learn.

Some adults cannot accept challenges from youngsters.  When our son, Chris, was a freshman in high school, he wrote a radio script as part of an assignment.  His teacher was certain he had ‘lifted it’ from a book or had been given help by a parent.  Neither was true, but that so-called teacher could have discouraged Chris’ ability to write by embarrassing him in front of his peers.

Don’t worry, I didn’t allow it. I became a lioness protecting my cub and made that teacher eat his words.  That’s what I mean about protecting the young from jaded people.  Remember, respect goes both ways.

Whether your child can speak clearly at one year or not until three makes no difference at all, except for anecdotes.   Each child is unique and learns at his/her own pace.  It is our job to love them and encourage them to be whatever they want to be.  Nothing is too great or too small.