I was reminded by my family last weekend that I haven’t yet shared the weird pearls of toddler philosophy that my daughter has been imparting to us since she learned to talk. Frankly, I haven’t written down nearly enough of them, because life is too busy and my memory for details is shockingly short.
Another reason I haven’t really delved into this is because, at two-and-a-half, AB is so verbal it’s almost scary… and although I’m insanely proud of her, I don’t take credit and I don’t want to sound like a braggy mommy. E was like this too, where complete strangers would hear him talk, ask his age, and express disbelief at his vocabulary – but it’s even more so with her. Of course we’ve encouraged their language in the ways we know how, but I figure it’s at least 90% genetic luck – being linguistically inclined, but also having no hearing issues to interfere.
Sometimes I forget, when I haven’t been with any other 2-year-olds in a while, how advanced her language is. It has all flowed naturally from the context of her learning to say “Hi” aptly at 8 months, and producing sentences like “That’s a ball,” and “Come here baby!” at 13 months. With her, I think it has happened faster because she’s a people person. She wants to relate, and language is an effective tool for that.
Looking at the notes I’ve taken, it makes me smile and sigh to remember the things she was saying a year or more ago.
- She used to press the button to make music on her doll stroller, bounce her knees and say, “Happy happy happy!” You just had to grin your face off.
- When she first learned to say Please (or “pease”), she soon changed it to “Pease-awwww,” mimicking the reaction of people hearing her new nicety.
- She had two words she made up that she used regularly with consistent meaning – and I’m sure it was very frustrating how long we took to figure them out: “Bacca” meant “Give that to me” and “Abodee” meant “Open this.” (Obviously.)
- I noted her word “Mecumber” once I figured out that when we talked about “cucumber” she thought we were saying “you-cumber” – so if it was hers, it was “me-cumber.”
- In February of last year, I wrote down her attempt to count just like her big brother: “Two four fie sick weven sick.”
- Around the same time, she was showing some bossiness, trying to get me to join nap time: “Lie down. Close the eyes.”
- Sometimes, especially when sleepy, she would gently touch and admire me: “Like a hair, Mama. Like a hand.”
- She also tended to use words she remembered that were wrong-but-close-enough: she called green beans “green pants,” occasionally substituted “elbow” for “eyebrow,” and (my favourite) referred to the Bambi book as the “Zombie book.”
- Other cute substitutions: “Up-a-size” for exercise (“Mama, looka me up-a-size!”), “wriggly” for regular (“I want wriggly milk”), “olives” for overalls, and “acalulu” for ukulele (she still uses this one sometimes).
- When we got her undressed for bath, she’d run around saying, “Got my naked on!”
- Because I so often said to her, “Hi, sweetie,” she began to respond with “Hi seedy!”
- On March 25th of last year, I noted her saying, as she gathered some items together, “Where’s the boots? Where’s the coffee? Goin’ to work.” (These days she likes to pack her backpack and put on her rubber boots and sit on the hall bench, which naturally transports her to school.)
- Shortly after that was my first note of her using the word “actually” – “Ackshly it’s MY ball!”
- She loved to do grown-up things like talk on phones – since almost anything can be a phone – and read Trivial Pursuit cards. (Just not usually in English.)
- For many months now, she has made a habit of running up to whoever arrives at our door and yelling “SURPRISE!!”
- She began to express compassion right around 18 months. I will never forget the time I was having a rough evening trying to get the kids to bed by myself – they just kept needing me and not sleeping – and at one point I sat on the edge of the bed and rested my head in my hands in frustration. She looked at me for a moment, then put her little arms around me and said, “I give a big hug, Mama. I see you cry.” I almost fell over.
- She’s still good at this. She gives hugs and kisses when we’re upset or hurt. And as frustrating as her tantrummy side can be, she is good at thinking it over, and after a short while saying something like, “Mummy, I’m sorry I screamed and hit you.” Without fail, it completely disarms me.
- Speaking of screaming, last summer I wrote down this charming conversation:
AB: (Screaming about something.)
Mummy: You don’t have to freak out about it…
AB: I AM freaking out!
E (mimicking her): I AM freaking out!
AB (to E): NO! You’re not freaking out, I’m freaking out!!
Then there’s the kind of out-of-the-blue, imaginative conversation she has when she’s getting sleepy and talking in bed, like this one last August:
AB: I wish had a boat.
Mummy: You wish… you had a boat?
AB: Yah. A sailboat. A sailboat.
Mummy: What would you do with your sailboat?
AB: I passed the boat… in the water… and the ducks on the boat, and the geese… in the river.
Mummy: Wow, that’s really cool.
AB: I had snacks with Emi. And I had snacks with Mummy.
Mummy: You had snacks… on the sailboat?
AB: I don’t have a sailboat. I have… a ladder… umm, a donkey-horse… two donkey-horses… and, umm… tomatoes… and, ummmmm… CHEESE! And… a sailboat.
Since last fall, there seems to be nothing she can’t say. I love that she still says things like “I goed to bed,” or “I maked a mess,” because it’s so toddler-y. She also, when reminded to ask nicely, still says “Can-I-may please have some water?” And she went through a long period this past winter where any statement she would make would be followed with a bizarre indication of whom she was addressing, like this: “I need some different pants, Ass-Mummy,” or “Can you read me this book, Ass-Daddy?” It seemed vaguely narrative. We eventually figured out she was meaning to say “ask,” even though the ass-prefix could be used with any sentence, not just questions. She just had it in her mind as necessary.
She also seems to have genetically inherited the language my sisters and I used to speak together (called Oody-Funka). She sings beautiful, unintelligible syllables a lot, and sometimes translates the books she “reads” into Oody-Funka as well. And she uses her elastic toddler-brain to give names to a lot of random things:
- She once named the fingers of one hand Madeline, Miss Clavel, Matracita, Maca, and Fen;
- For a short while, she had imaginary babies named Nollie and Kernie;
- She has told us about her pet sharks named Mixery, Globby, Glicky, and Loast;
- And she has expanded on what she told us about the school she goes to “under the water in North Canada” to let us know that her teachers are fish, and they are called Packo and Lala.
Here are a few other fun quotables from the last few months:
- “I’m hugging you to my bones!”
- “These Os are techally mine.” (I’d just told Sean, after a snack dispute between the kids, that the Cheerios were “technically” not E’s; she clearly got my meaning.)
- To her big brother: “You can kiss my hand. Not off my hand, in my hand. That’s a good boy.”
- When I found her curled up in someone’s abandoned snow fort at the toboggan hill: “I’m just sleeping in this hole, in this little rock home.”
- While drawing a “picture” of me with a baby in my tummy: “She’s crying because her little brother leaved with her mom. Now the baby’s all covered up with grossness.” (Yikes, wha?)
- When I asked, after she’d been horsing around with Daddy, if she would like some breakfast: “I already ate Daddy’s nose. I had breakfast.”
- Just last week, at lunch one day, as she made up a random story about a doctor – who was also apparently a driver of some kind: “The driver didn’t do anything. He just sailed away, as faintly as a breeze.” (Where does she get these turns of phrase??)
- The other day, when I asked her if she was all done on the potty: “I… am… precious.” True, but doesn’t answer my question.
- And just this week, she started enthusiastically using a word that it took Daddy a while to decipher: hypothesis. Eventually he gleaned that she’d gotten the word from the Dinosaur Train show.
She told him, “Daddy, I have another hypothesis.”
“Oh, really? What’s your hypothesis?”
“Umm… It’s in the bathtub.”
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