This evening, I was giving Pete his bath, as usual, and we were looking at his favorite bathtime book. (Pete now has strong opinions about books, bathtime and otherwise.) It's an alphabet book, with big capital letters accompanied by illustrations--a queen for Q, a rabbit for R, and so on. As Pete turns pages, I look for illustrations that lend themselves to sounds and read along, as in "Snake! SSSSSSS!" or "Lion! RARRRR!" (If anybody knows sounds to make for, say, queen or giraffe or rabbit, drop me a line.) For a while, Pete has looked at the last page, found the ball of yarn for Y, and said, "Ba!" which is not surprising, since ball has been his best word for a while. (For a few days, he would look at that page, say ball, and point to the xylophone. Happily, he sorted that one out.) Tonight, he added a new trick: he looked at L and made a growly little "AAAAAAA" sound. I didn't catch on at first, but he did it again the next time, and I got it: he was roaring! He was, in fact, making his very first animal sound! It is a wonderfully unintimidating little baby roar.
I must note that this development is grossly unfair. Carolyn and I read many of the same books to Pete, but we each have our specialties, and one of Carolyn's strengths is animal sounds; some of the books produce magnificent, convincing, fast-paced animal jamborees. (As they tend to be farm-themed, these books seldom include lions, though it would be fun to do the sounds of terrified antelopes and cowering chickens.) There's no way my very ordinary nightly roar should have prompted Pete's first imitation.
Pete's vocabulary to date:
Hi (the original, seldom used now)
Papa (baba--not nearly as solid as mama, but coming along)
More (in sign language or as "moi," both if he's really hungry)
Uh-oh (formerly meaning "oops, I dropped something," but now more like "ha, I threw it down," or even--just today--"just so you know, I'm going to throw this down")