The language switch

WARNING: this is one of those posts that exemplifies beautifully that quote from Kelly Oxford: ‘Remember, parents are hardwired to think that everything their toddler does is interesting. Otherwise we’d abandon them’. If you’re hanging on for a discussion of Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard, best come back later. 


Oh yes, oh yes: this is the moment I’ve been waiting for. I’m sure I’ll whoop and cry and phone all the neighbours when Henry’s out of nappies (my goodness I am done with that), but all along I’ve been hanging on for the words.

We’ve had ‘daddy’ and ‘car’ and ‘shoes’ and ‘hot’ – well, ‘DAT’ rather than ‘hot’, said with a very severe Danger Face –  for a while. He’s always been a babbler, not that any of it was intelligible. And it was obvious he could understand most of what we said to him, even when he pretended not to. But about three weeks ago, a switch flicked in his head. One day, from nowhere at all, there was ‘car keys’. And then suddenly everything was worth a go. He tries a new one every day.

I think there will probably come a point at which his indignant little ‘no, no!’ will become something of a trial. So I hear. For now, we can’t stop laughing.

Disturbingly, the sound he makes most often is a kind of sharp ‘At! At!’ which puzzled me for a couple of weeks. Until I realised he was reproducing the noise I make when he’s doing something he shouldn’t. He says it when he knows he’s about to be told off. Just to get it out of the way, I think. Clear the air before he stands on my computer for the fourth time.

The thing I really want to know is: how long till we can sit memorising Allan Ahlberg poems? Or look up interesting words in the dictionary? When can we have that discussion about the joys of a well-timed ‘floccinaucinihilipilification’?

Like, now? How about now? Ok, HOW ABOUT NOW?


2 thoughts on “The language switch

  1. natalie hacking says:

    ah yes — just when you think your babies could not possibly fit any more personality into that tiny frame, they start talking…and their personalities ooze from them in spoken language so uniquely them you can hardly stand it. some of my most favorite entries over the years document my kids’ “-isms” forever as my mind too soon forgets them.


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