I've always gotten a little weepy watching the much-parodied final scene of The Miracle Worker. The concept that everything has a name is so basic, yet so counterintuitive, it's a wonder we ever invented language at all.
Once you give something a name, you can talk about it even when it's not right in front of you. You can tell stories about it; you can theorize, conceptualize. You can engage in abstract thinking. I think that scene always moved me because being able to name things seems like a prerequisite for personhood.
Well, our Gabby had a Helen Keller moment today. For the last several weeks, she has definitely worked a few words into her babbling, mainly "mama," "dada," "cat," and the all-purpose "dat" (that). "Cat" was a big step toward getting the whole things-have-names concept, but it wasn't until last night and today that I think she really got it.
Last night, she was in my lap, staring up at the gorgeous mobile Atomic made using some painted wooden fish from Mazatlan. She looked up, pointed at the mobile, and said "dat!"
I said, "Those are fish, honey."
"Yes! Fish!" Big kiss.
She went back to nursing, obviously quite pleased with herself. Twice more, she interrupted her meal to point and say something that sounded rather like "fish."
Now, she's gotten that far before, especially with the cats. But tonight, we were in her room getting ready for bed, and I asked, "Gabby, where are the fish?"
She looked at me quizzically for a moment, and then I saw it. That flash of understanding. I repeated the question.
"Gabby, where are the fish?"
She looked up, smiled hugely, and pointed at the fish.
She then valiantly fought sleep for another half hour so that she could point triumphantly toward the ceiling every few moments and shout, "Fish!" with a tone and a grin that said, "I am SO all over this language thing."
Update: Gabby woke up this morning, gave me a big, sweet smile and said, "Fish!" So, yeah, I think the abstract thinking is probably still a few weeks off.