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Little ones have healing powers

What’s the difference between a kuck, a kruck and a keek?

Don’t ask me; ask my 21-month-old son.

I never thought that I’d be teaching English as a second language at age 42. Yet, in recent days I feel a little like Gibson’s talking in some foreign tongue.

When he looks at me and starts babbling away, I strain to decipher whatever bits and pieces of the English language I can.

Honestly, when he completes a long string of indecipherable sounds and stares back at me like a reporter waiting for a response, I wonder sometimes if my hearing has started failing.

It’s been several months since he has uttered his first word. I can’t remember exactly what that word was, but I can tell you with certainty that it wasn’t the word “mom” or “dad.”

More than likely it was either “cat” or “truck” since those are his two favorite words in his ever-expanding vocabulary. Unable to get that “tr” sound out of his little mouth, the word “truck” comes out sounding a little more like “kuck.” But after uttering it practically every single time he sees a pickup truck, fire truck or 18-wheeler on the road, mom and dad know what a “kuck” is.

Of course object words are the easiest for Gibson to understand. Ask him where his nose, mouth, ears, hands and feet are and he will gladly point them out. Ask him where his belly button is and he will gleefully pull up his shirt, stick out his stomach and giggle.

Now we have graduated to more nuanced parts of the English language.

Of course action words like “kick” have been a lot of fun — so much so that there have been days when Gibson has looked like he is goose-stepping through the house as he repeats the word “keek” and the example.

Other words like “up” and “down” have taken a little more time to grasp.

When Gibson and I walk down our front steps, I say the word “down” each time we hit a new step. That morning routine has become so much fun for Gibson he now jumps down each step, exclaiming the word “down” with each leap.

As a result “down” means “jump” in his world. And up means both “up” and “down.” When he wants to picked up he raises his arms to the sky and says, “up.” And when he tires of seeing the world from daddy’s arms he points to the ground and says, “up.”

Of course even more obscure words — like those associated with emotions — make learning even more confusing for our son. Giving love with hugs and kisses, Gibson has mastered, considering that he gets plenty of those from our entire family.

When he terrorizes our two cats, my wife and I always encourage him to love them. Almost instantly, Gibson’s demeanor changes and he presses his cheek against their fur and pets them softly.

Love he’s got. But words like sad, happy and other emotions are met with blank stares.

Recently I spent a couple of days recuperating from the stomach flu. At one point Gibson walked to the side of my bed looking for a playmate and found dad sporting an unshaven sick look.

I looked down and said, “Dad is sick.”

He stared back blankly.

I then said explained I was not feeling well — that I was feeling “down.”

At the mention of that word, Gibson’s eyes lit up and he started jumping up and down beside the bed, before he went off to play with his toys.

After that I realized my son may not completely understand what down means, but he certainly knows how to make dad feel “up.”

Ben Hillyer is the design editor of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3540 or ben.hillyer@natchezdemocrat.com.

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