Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Toddlerese

Before I had children, I swore I would never repeat their baby words back to them. I could not believe that my in-laws still would on occasion use the baby word their daughter had had for fork almost twenty years later. It drove me nuts when my sister-in-law and her husband would refer to things by the baby words my niece and nephew used. It is a good thing that I only complained to my husband about these things though, because I've had fewer people to apologize to and fewer people to make fun of me for my change of heart.

I love the creative pronunciations and completely different words my children have for things when they first learn to talk. As they grow bigger and speak more clearly, I miss the toddler-speak.

My son is very well spoken. He no longer calls bananas "gomanas," backpack isn't rendered as "hatback" any more and he asks for balloons now and not "gaboons." One day after he learned to read, he looked at a tag on some gloves and realized that they weren't called "glubs." He can read and say just about anything. The kid asked for "a reprieve" from the time-out chair the other day. The last vestiges of baby words that he has are calling lasagna "plasagna" and pot pie "hot pie". I'm sure those will disappear soon.

My two year old talks all the time now. A lot of what she says like, "I won't!" isn't all that cute, and a lot of her baby words are disappearing too. She still mysteriously refers to music and singing as "why-o" but she's also started asking to "ding dongs in the dongbook." As soon as her pronunciation gets better I bet we'll never hear about "why-o" again. She's already saying "Be-a-rix" and not just "Bee-rix" for her sister's name. In the past, her favorite animal was the "hippomanus," but yesterday she said it "hippodominus" which sounds like the Latin for the über horse, but really she's starting to notice all the syllables and pay more attention to how one really says hippopotamus.

As with many other things, I want them to grow up. I wouldn't want to see one of my children go off to a job interview talking or acting like a toddler. However, I miss these words -- symbols of babyhood -- as they get bigger and forget them. I wish I had recorded all the funny ones. I'm holding on to all the words I can remember now -- and chances are in twenty years I may pop out with one of these words that no one else remembers. I know it will make me smile.

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