I listen to mama talk. Well, what I mean is that I listen to the way moms talk to their babies. I am always curious about the way they sound. Some mothers slow their voices down, speaking lowly. Some speed up, getting higher and higher. Some have little languages with them, blurring the lines of vocabulary to create something only they understand. Some speak more with their hands and eyes than their words. Some say almost nothing at all.
The reason it is curious to me is because babies understand their mama's speech so well that when someone else talks to them, they look at you like you are a Martian. They know the inflection, they understand the tone. They know the sound so well that begin to flap their arms like little birds if they hear it coming from far away. Being a first time mama, I finally get it. It's like watching a flock of sheep find their babies in a sea of white wool. How do they find their own lamb? Deep down, I know. I could find my lamb anywhere, and he could find me.
My son and I have a bit of a funny way of conversing. My husband says I sound a bit like a garbled hamster, chattering to him. I suppose to him, it might sound like that. (The funny thing is that he has begun to copy me a bit, so we are a family of insane hamsters. Ha.) To me, I am understood, and my son knows me. That's all I expect.
"Ciamar a tha thu, wee boyo? Ha we go have lunch? Yeah? Ok. No, no crackers now. Later. Take bite? Oh, good job! Chew, chew, chew. Ach! Leif! No! Dinna spit that out! *sigh* Ah well. Ha'mere, boy. Mama kiss? Nanks, baby. Ok, more food. Good job."
The little chatter we all have with our children is a huge part of their lives. They listen to everything we say, and eventually, will speak back, probably with a huge amount of our own little idiosyncratic mumbo-jumbo. But it also is our own unique pattern. It creates our own little space that our babies will never forget. They may not remember the way we talked to them, but they will remember how it felt to be understood, and to understand, from the very beginning. Our voices are very, very important, and little do we know how our words shape their lives.