Monday, August 24, 2015

Parenthood: Week 115 – The Little Chatterbox

“Do you have any idea what he just said? No? How about you? Anybody?”

Sitting in a friend’s backyard, eight of us, all parents of toddlers were completely confused trying to figure out what one of our kids had said. Usually the parent of the toddler can figure it out but at least a couple times during a get-together, we are all stumped.

Sometimes it’s frustrating for the toddler to not be understood and sometimes it’s frustrating for parents who can’t understand their child, but most of the time, toddler-speak is endearing and adorable.

I remember Ollie’s first "word" that he said. It was “da” and of course people jumped to the conclusion that he was saying “dad,” but there was no meaning connected to this word. Ollie’s first real expression of communicative language with a handful of baby sign-language words we taught him. The speaking went in spurts. Sometimes he would make a lot of sounds, and then there were other stretches when he wasn’t so chatty. Now that we’ve entered toddlerhood, talking has been a big part of Ollie’s self-expression.

We are currently in that wonderful stage where we can encourage Ollie to talk but we don’t have to worry about correcting him when he mispronounces words like umbrella (or as Ollie calls it "biyaya").  At first Ollie just worked with nouns. Verbs became part of his understanding and now he’s putting together sentences that sometimes have direct objects! Ollie often leaves out articles and he doesn’t grasp the concept of pronouns. So we are often treated to Ollie’s third person narration of his own life.

Ollie often makes up words for objects, which makes senses, since to him, it probably seems like we are making up names for things all of the time. Sometimes we repeat back the words correctly to Ollie and other times we just go with his word. Now our conversations are sprinkled with toddler talk, sometimes when we aren't even with Ollie.

It can be challenging to figure out what Ollie is trying to say when he is upset and we are trying to help him. It’s in these moments that I need to remind myself of how far Ollie has come. Once upon a time, he didn’t talk at all. While his vocabulary and his ability to form sounds into words is amazing, there’s something about the way he talks that is really touching.

Ollie doesn’t just talk to us when he wants something from us. He tells us about what he is doing and what he did earlier in the day. He talks to us when he is happy and he talks to us when he is sad. Ollie loves talking to us and we love to listen to what he has to say.

It took me a long time to realize that sharing your life with people that you love is what brings meaning to life.

Ollie already has this figured out.

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