I have three children, two girls and a boy, and all of them have very different personalities. I was just thinking back to their first year of life when they were reaching milestones like rolling over, sitting, crawling, clapping, walking and talking. Both of my girls were verbal very early and Cooper, my youngest and only boy, was much less so. What’s interesting, however, is not when they started speaking, but what each child’s first word actually was because I can now see that the word each child said first is representative of their personality today.
Lauren’s first was “Dada.” She began saying “Dada” at around ten months and would point at her daddy and smile as she said it over and over. Today Lauren is a people-pleaser. She loves to make her dad proud of her and she lights up when he praises her. She’s a class clown, an actress, an extrovert and very popular with her school peers. It makes sense that her first word was a way for her to connect with a very important person in her life.
Kate’s first word was “Dog.” When Kate was born our 110 pound Rottweiler/Shepard mix named Bear was still alive. Kate would point to her and shriek and smile and say “Dog! Dog!” She also loved to point at and name any dog we passed on a walk. Today Kate is my emotionally fragile child, my most empathetic child and a care-giver. She picks up on the emotions and pain of others, and she cannot watch a show if it involves suffering or dying animals (neither can I!). She shines when she is around animals and seems to need the silent unconditional love that only a dog can provide. Dogs don’t judge or correct or criticize or care if you were just naughty. They just want to love and be loved. No matter how imperfect you may feel inside, a dog looks at his human and only sees the good things.
Cooper’s first word was “Ball.” Being the youngest and the only boy in the family, Cooper has been exposed to all kinds of girl and gender neutral toys and books. However, by design, he has come out fitting every stereo-typical boy trait there is. He loves all sports, he is interested in anything he can throw or kick, and he’s a natural athlete. We’ve had friends tell us he’ll be a high school soccer or basketball star for sure. He probably will be. From about one and a half, he’d watch others and then seem to unconsciously mimic their form. Even as a teeny toddler he was taking the two or three dribbles players always take before a free-throw, set his feet, bend his knees and then throw the ball in an upward arc toward the basket. He’s left footed and right handed and he continues to be very focused on sports and well, balls.
Are my children’s first words simply a coincidence or am I reading into their significance too much? Maybe. But I do believe children are motivated to verbalize things that they care about. Many children’s first word might be Mama. That’s certainly a no-brainer. Identifying the Center of Your Own Personal Universe is the perfect first word to master. What was your child’s first word? Do you think it reflects anything significant about his or her personality?