My younger granddaughter, London, is trying to talk. She’ll be one next week. She’s standing up, walking a little unsteadily, and now she’s not just shaking her head “no.” She’s got words. Two of them.
One is more accurately a phrase: “No, no, no.” It’s probably something she’s heard a lot, particularly with a two-and-a-half-year-old sister and two working parents now trying to juggle toddlers and full-time jobs from home.
The other word is one of those fun surprises. Words you don’t expect, but which happen to be interesting enough to a baby for her to try to make the sound herself.
Her mother sent me a video. It is incredibly sweet. London’s voice is now in the world, and it’s a very sweet, soft voice.
Her sister, Hadley, is a delightful magpie. It’s hard to remember when she didn’t talk. She has so much to say, so many things to see, so many people in the world to boss. I encourage all of it with great delight.
Grandma, or Gaga, as she christened me, babysat whenever her parents needed to go out. They lived near Albany. We weren’t that far. If Mama and Daddy didn’t need to go out, I encouraged them to go. anyway. I loved my time with Hadley.
I cannot remember Hadley’s first words. I feel like she and I were always talking.
London is a different person. She’s more thoughtful, more careful. She weighs everything from a distance. And though she knows me, we are not good friends yet. She smiles at me, but she’s still considering. They all live in Connecticut now, and though I stayed overnight when I visited, it was only once a month. And now it’s not at all.
I am sorry that I won’t have the kind of right-from-the-start relationship with London that I have with her sister. We will build a different one when this virus allows it. And someday, maybe, we’ll all talk about it.
Read more installments of Village Voices by Susan Barnett.