I told my son, "we speak to children from the day they are born." But it beats logic that one child in the family starts speaking before 1 year of age and another sibling starts only after 2 years. Anyway, as I have often said, there were so many visitors at home on a day to day basis and when there was a small baby, they spent some time talking to the baby. And there were always people surrounding the baby. They found a meaning in what ever the baby did and responded with, "Oh, where are you looking?", "what is it that you want?", "why are you crying?", "are you looking for amma?", and on and on. And then as the baby grew up they made him wave his hands and sang to him,
Kai Veesamma, Kai veesu (wave your hands, baby wave)
Kadaikku pokalam kaiveesu (we will go shopping, wave your hands)
Mittai vangalam kai veesu (we will buy toffees, wave your hands)
I forget the rest of the song.
They made the baby clap hands, chanting
Krishna Rama Govinda
Rama Krishna Govinda
Venkata Krishna Govinda
Kalla Krishna Govinda
And when the baby started making fists, the song went like this,
(Chandu was the paste used to adorn the forehead of children. When we were young, there were no sticker bindis, we used home made bindi paste, known as chandu, only black. Later we started getting chandu in black and red colors in bottles (kuppis). The chandu pottu was applied on the forehead of the baby to ward off the evil eye)
Listening to continuous blabbering made them pick up words early, perhaps. It also was an exercise for the baby to move his hands and legs.
My Kalathappa (paternal grandfather) had his own gibberish vocabulary to play with his grandchildren and he enjoyed every minute he could get to spent with the babies. He would ask the baby to be put near him when he had breakfast or lunch. When he was relaxing in his easy chair, he would have the baby on his lap. One could hear his gibberish from half a kilometer away. He would come all the way from our farm, about 3 kilometers away in the hot sun so that he could spend some time with his grandchildren.
I spent all my time in my maternal home or my in-laws' until our older son was 1 year old. This meant he was always surrounded by a host of uncles and aunts and cousins all the time. In my husband's home, our child was the first son after my husband and my in-laws and other aunts (my small mothers-in-law, as one of my friends used to say) would not move away from the baby even for a second. They were always talking to him. Perhaps that was the reason why he started speaking before he was 1 year old. When our younger son was born, I came to Bangalore even when he was just 3 months old and he was not lucky to have so many people pampering him all the time.
As I said earlier in the post, our elder son started reading even before he was 3 years of age. So, when he was 3 years old we put him in a kindergarten school. They taught the kids to write the English alphabet and numbers 1-10 in the first 6 months. They had also issued a Hindi book with the alphabet. So when he came home, I started teaching him the Hindi alphabet and numbers 1 - 100 and some simple addition. At the end of 6 months, his teacher said she could not keep him in the class as he had learnt everything that was to be taught for the next 6 months also, and he was promoted to what then was known as Upper KG. Having finished his lower and upper KG in one year, there was no class he could go to the next year. As he was only 4, they would not give him admission in 1st standard. We had to run around many schools, before we could get him admitted to a pre- primary class, the next year. So, my advice,"take it easy!"