The Magic and Universality of Communication

Our grandson, Levi, has entered the stage of learning words. While his understanding of various words began long ago, he is now in the exhilarating, entertaining, and somewhat dangerous stage of repeating everything he hears.

This necessitates a bit of caution on our part to avoid using various exclamatory or declaratory statements that often emerge during difficult or frustrating times. Otherwise, one risks the term being repeated, albeit with not perfect annunciation, ad infinitum.

It is a stage we will endure for the next few years.

Let me explain…

But the part I find the most fascinating is while we have been teaching him our language, he has been talking to us—and quite effectively conveying his meaning and desires—since he first learned to make sounds.

What started out as perhaps a smile and a bit of cooing has progressed to his coming into the house each morning when he is dropped off to spend the day and launching into a full-blown dialog detailing everything that has happened since we saw him last, mere hours ago.

While most of the words are unintelligible to us, he finds a way to get his point across. When asked about various activities, he will often just chuckle, smile, or say ‘yeah.’

Yet sometimes, I get the impression that he merely tolerates our inability to comprehend what must seem simple and straightforward.

It is a universal truth that the first thing a child learns is how to say no.

Talking to a nineteen-month-old underscores how most communication is non-verbal. Even when two humans try to communicate using totally different languages, they often get the point across. Whenever we travel to a country where English is not universally understood, we have mastered the universal language of hand gestures, pointing, and charades.

Levi is a master of getting his point across even if we have no idea what words he is saying to do it. So while I look forward to the time when we can share a common language and talk about the million things I want to share with him—and I am sure he feels the same way—I do enjoy the challenge of figuring out what he is trying to convey.

While language is one of the most important evolutionary developments of the human race, it is one small aspect of communication. Most communication is non-verbal, and Levi has already mastered that. With just the twinkle of an eye, a smile, a frown, or merely taking my hand and directing me to some new endeavor, Levi manages to “talk” to all of us every day.

I will cherish these moments all my days.

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