At 17 months old, my son’s language skills are coming along well, even though the number of words he can speak is still in the low double-digits.


My wife and I were very excited this week when that total went up by one as our son seemed to learn the word “apple” right in front of our eyes. I was working on my computer and he walked up and pointed at the Apple symbol on the back of the screen. My wife told him that was an apple and asked whether he could say it.


He then said “ap-ple” very slowly and clearly, which thrilled both of us.


We made the mistake of asking him to say it several more times, so now it’s become his go-to word when he’s just toiling around the living room playing with his toys or pretty much anything else. Of course, he’s also experimenting with other consonant sounds at the beginning of the word, so we also get to hear “bapple,” “papple” and more variations.


Part of our excitement with the word apple was that we initially thought it was his first two-syllable word, but I guess that honor technically goes to “mama” or “daddy.”


In addition to his proficiency with the words he can say, the boy also seems to have developed words that he thinks means certain things. Whenever we go to leave our home or we pick him up from day care, he knows he needs to put his shoes on. So he’ll stop whatever he’s doing and point at where his shoes are and say “more.” I don’t know how he put that word with his shoes, but it’s definitely better than if he thought they were called something embarrassing.


So lately, we’ve been trying to teach him those are his shoes. It’s not going great.


However, whenever he gets the first sound of a word correct, I figure that’s close enough and the rest of the word will eventually come. But there are some times when I just have no idea what he’s trying to say. He’s almost always happy when he’s saying them to us though, so we just keep talking with him.


And that seems to have also helped him learn a lot of language that he can’t say just yet.


Whenever we ask him to bring us something or go throw something in the trash, he clearly understands exactly what we’re saying and usually does it. In fact, he seems to particularly enjoy getting to throw things away.


Lately, we’ve been working on teaching him about his eyes, ears, nose and mouth. He’s not able to say any of those features of his face just yet, though he can get close with nose, but he does seem to understand what they are more often than not.


Our other big breakthrough was that my son recently learned to wave hello and say “hi” to people. He hasn’t quite mastered it, but he is getting better at it all of the time. He also recently started waving by moving his hand side to side instead of just opening and closing his hand vertically.


That was pretty exciting for me. There was nothing wrong with the old wave, but I think the side-to-side version is more easily recognizable for most people.


And whenever he adds a “hi” to it, I break out in the biggest grin. He’s becoming more and more communicative every day.


William C. Wadsack is the managing editor of the Herald Democrat and a first-time father. He never realized just how expensive children could be until the birth of his son. Email him at wwadsack@heralddemocrat.com. Follow him on Twitter @WCWadsackHD.