We think it happened yesterday. I was in my office marking work. My wife was attending to baby's lunch. I popped my head in the kitchen for a few brief moments. And then, just as I was leaving, it happened.
Baby was looking round at me as I stood at the door and talked to my wife. I caught baby's eye just as I was about to leave so I raised my hand, opening and closing it in salute - baby's way of waving. She looked at me even more intently - she has an intense gaze does my daughter - gave a gummy smile, and then we heard it...
My wife and I looked at each other gobsmacked. Was that her first word? we seemed to be saying to each other, as we stood there dumbfounded. Yes, so it seemed. And then she said it again. There was no doubt this time. Triumphant, baby tucked into the rest of the semi-masticated rice cake she was holding in her golfball-like fist, quite oblivious of the hushed atmosphere of amazement now surrounding her.
We're sure we heard right what she said. There can be little doubt in my mind, and in hindsight it makes perfect sense. Babies just pick up on what's going on around them all the time. There it was. Our daughter's first words, and, to our immense joy, we were both there to hear it at the same time.
And I'm sure neither of us will ever forget this moment in which, with those beautiful, limpid blue eyes and the sweetest of baby-girl smiles, baby lowered her rice cake briefly, gathered her forces of concentration, and muttered distinctly:
(Okay, she said 'bye' actually and she hasn't said it since. On reflection, it could be a fluke).