Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Toddler Talk

I used to roll my eyes when I heard parents desperately beseeching their children to “use their words.” I naively thought that my own children would possess the wherewithal to verbalize their requests in a dignified manner. Not that I have children, I find myself using that phrase constantly. It is difficult to describe the frustration of having a wailing child make a beeping noise while pointing at the sky. Especially when you find out they simply wanted some goldfish crackers. My son has his own vocabulary. A sampling appears below:

Dyedoor - This loosely translated to dinosaur but is applicable to any unknown carnivore with displayed teeth.
Hiyah – This is an affirmative response to an inquiry.
Tee – This refers to a television or computer monitor.
Babbaww – This gender-neutral designation is reserved for grandparents.
Mahpad – This refers to any electronic tablet within his field of vision and implies immediate ownership.
Ahfrye – This either refers to a breaded or fried entrée but can also mean Chick-Fil-A
Ting – This is a request for someone to sing to him, usually a ploy to prolong the bedtime process.
Eehhur – He has sustained an injury

Toddlers are uniquely frustrating in that they will speak perfectly vivid King’s English one moment while resorting to grunts and noises the next. Within a span of 45 minutes my son clearly requested that I “sit down on the slide” and then proceeded to answer the next several inquiries about his day with fart noises. Our son sometimes prefers a series of high-pitched screeches emitted at random intervals. The cumulative effect is that if someone were to eavesdrop on our home it would sound as if we were attempting to reason with a bird of prey.

Son, it is time to put our pajamas on.


Sometimes he will just scream until he can be reasonably certain that he has triggered a migraine in either himself or a neighbor. Once finished, he will briefly make eye contact before beginning again. This has to be torturous on his throat and every now and then he goes hoarse from it. Once I just looked at him and resolved to see how long he would continue until he got tired of it. I still do not know the answer to that question.

There is one word that is always crystal clear: NO. I read in one of the parenting books that if you child begins saying “no” before saying “yes” you have not provided them a safe and proper environment. I suppose the idea is that your home should be so incompatible with mischief that you spend your days encouraging their behavior instead of discouraging it.  That may have merit if you are attempting to raise two year-olds in an abandoned shipyard, but I maintain that any toddler worth their salt can find an effective way to injure themselves even in the most kid-friendly settings.

I have yet to meet a parent who devotes their entire day to encouraging a toddler’s chosen behavior. Mostly because their toddler wouldn’t survive. It is difficult to avoid negative language when danger is involved, “I like your passion with that cheese-grater Timmy, and it speaks volumes that you are the first person to re-purpose it as a place to defecate!”  I suppose the people this parenting book refer to (who must reside in “toddlertopias”) just occasionally glance up from their novels and say, “Way to take the initiative sweetie!”  

In my best moments, I sympathize with the foreign concept of attempting to verbalize one’s desires and emotions in a language that is difficult to grasp. At other times, I am almost convinced that he is doing it on purpose. No reasonable person of any age can really believe that pantomiming a horseback ride while screeching conveys a need for ice water.   

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