We pulled into the driveway just as the clouds began to part, allowing us a clear view of the nearly full moon hanging low in the dark sky.
“Look, look! Up there!”
My daughter was shouting from the backseat. At nearly four years old, the little things still fill her with wonder and excitement. “It’s the moon,” she cooed, “isn’t it beautiful?” We all agreed that it was a particularly enchanting evening with soft threads of mist providing just the right amount of mystery.
As I went to unbuckle my girl’s car seat, I said, “You know, when you were a baby, you used to say AYOOMEE whenever you saw the moon.” She looked at me oddly, before jumping out of the vehicle — her gaze firmly fixed on the sky above her. “I did? That’s silly,” she stated as she skipped up to the porch.
At our previous home, the ceiling in what would become my daughter’s bedroom was covered with hundreds of glow-in-the dark stickers. Carefully placed by a preceding tenant, the assembly of stars, comets, planets and moons softly radiated over my little one and I at bedtime and beyond. It wasn’t the only reason we dubbed the room, “The Milky Way.”
Night after night, I would sing an improvised version of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” — complete with ad-libbed choruses about shooting stars, Saturn and a crescent moon — while my girl scanned the shapes above, her eyelids growing heavy.
One evening, as I motioned towards one of the many moon stickers, my eager tot squealed, “AYOOMEE!” It was one of the many baby words she would embrace until her big kid vocabulary started to take over.
During the days of those first babbles, I faithfully recorded every “mmmum”, “dah” and “bah” sound my daughter uttered. It was addictive and I can remember wanting so badly to hear more. As the months rolled forward, I got my wish as the words started flowing, fast and furious. Like most babies, she developed a kind of sub-language with her own unique set of descriptors. Dog was THO. Bath was HAP. Soother was LOWDEE. Water was LADALADALA. Horse was NAYNAY and Yes was (quite unfortunately) ASS.
Still, as time went on, the jabbers were replaced with words and not long after, the clipped phrases developed into comprehensible sentences. One minute I’m responding to a request for LADALADALA and the next, I’m staring in disbelief as my child politely asks for water. It’s hard not to shed tears of joy as your wee one morphs from a tiny being to a capable human, all in the blink of an eye.
A few nights after our driveway moon encounter, my daughter was standing on our front deck. I saw her little body quiver with excitement as she scrutinized something that was just beyond my line of vision. “Come outside, Mommy. I’ve got something to show you,” she whispered as she guided me through the door. As I stepped into the cool air, my big kid smiled up at me with a twinkle in her eye. “Look,” she marveled, “it’s AYOOMEE. He came back.”