Giraffes and other signs

Turbo didn’t really talk until he was two and a half. We were actually getting kind of worried about it, but then he began spouting one and two words here and there, and before we knew it, he was into full blown sentence-long Turboisms that might or might not make sense. He often pops off with things like, “How many school days do I have, Mommy?” This question is evidently a complete thought because no amount of clarifying questioning gets any more detail out of it. The answer? I have no farking clue (what you are asking me). He seems okay with that answer.

Now Lunchbox (recently also dubbed “Tiny Whiny” thanks to some two year molar teething that has us all miserable) is beginning to try his hand at this English language thing that we all seem to think is so great. He’s just 18 months – I’m so proud. The Major thinks I’m on crack because I keep declaring new words that Lunchbox has said, although when he actually repeats them for The Major to hear they sound nothing like the actual word. I think that Mommy ears hear things more clearly (maybe this is why the shrieking and whining seem to drive me closer to the brink of utter desolation than they do him). Anyway, I know that Lunchbox says “shoes.” (He has some kind of weird fascination with shoes – he’s definitely my kid.) But when he says it, it sounds like “chewssss.” He definitely says “cracker” or some derivation thereof. And I also think he says “thank you,” though it sounds like “an choo.” When Turbo first worked on the politeness words, we used to mimic him to one another, “Shankoo.” “Y’elcome.”

In my mind (and remember, my experience is limited to mothering kids up to the ripe old age of almost four), this is the hardest stage of toddlerhood – that point where your baby realizes that all these noises you’ve been making were not actually just soothing sounds intended to entertain and encourage him. He realizes instead that all along you’ve been actually saying things, and that OTHER people, but not him, can SAY things back. I think this realization, at least in both of my boys, resulted in more than a little frustration.

A friend suggested that baby sign language might be a good way to head off this angst. Lunchbox has so far mastered “more.” The problem here is that he seems to be inherently lazy when it comes to signing. If it’s a two-handed sign, he’ll figure out a way to do it with just one hand. So basically he signs like he talks – half-assed. I’m working hard to get him to either say or sign “giraffe” because he has a deep and indefatigable love for a stuffed giraffe (there are actually three of them, intended as backup in case the first one ever gets lost, but he’s on to our game and now insists on having all three with him most of the time). The sign for giraffe, like the word, has two parts. When Lunchbox tries either, there is one part only. It’s either “raff,” or one hand shooting straight up in the air for an infinitesimal second. Oh well, any progress is good progress, right?

I don’t know why I’m in such a hurry. Soon he’ll be spouting some of the gems that Turbo has recently shared with me. Favorites include:

“Pass the green beans, Turdwaffle.”
“Get out of the way, idiot.”
“I’m going to cut off your head and throw it in the yarden.” (He hasn’t quite distinguished between garden and yard – I rather like that word…)
And my personal favorite (in an alternate universe where I think it’s cool for my three year old to order me around like an egomaniacal dictator on coke): “You get my hot chocolate RIGHT NOW MOMMY. You DO IT. RIGHT. NOW.” This is usually repeated vehemently, though the last part is often muffled because his face is planted in my chest as I carry him up the stairs and deposit him firmly in his room where he can order around whoever he wants to without having to worry about getting smacked by an infuriated mommy monster and then removed by child protective services.

And though I’ve made Turbo sound like a mean little dude, he also frequently says things like, “Mommy, you’re my favorite.” And I suppose that makes me glad that we taught him to talk after all.


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