The Things They Say: Children’s talk to make you smile

One thing I’m kicking myself for is not writing down more of what my kids said in those cute moments when they were trying to communicate, but got it wrong.

I still remember getting my thumb caught in my dad’s car and saying “I’ve got my finger duck [stuck]” – which was received with much merriment.  Not exactly the response I was looking for (my thumb really hurt where I’d managed to wedge it…).  I was probably about the age that my youngest is now.

Experts say you shouldn’t encourage baby-talk as it may stunt their development, but it’s so cute that I see why parents allow childish vocab to stick.  Conversely, others argue that correcting them can harm their confidence and in doing so, delay development.

Of course, there are two aspects to this: the meaning of what they are saying and the words to say it with.  I find my youngest is all at sea when he tries to find the right word for an unfamiliar concept.  For example, on a recent holiday there was lots of talk from my eldest about the buffet breakfast (his hotel highlight), leading my youngest to check later “is there a buffalo for breakfast?” before saying “I’m going on the banister” (balcony).

He also heard people talking about ipads and as he had only heard about them, rather than seen them, he very proudly showed me his ipad (a little paper notepad that he got given in a party bag).  It was very cute, but I needed to come clean with him as I worried he’d sound like he was from the dark ages when interacting with potentially tech-savvy peers.

In contrast, my eldest intended on talking about a computer, however he ended up  talking about a ‘bincooter’ – a word that he used consistently as a 2/3 year old.  He also mixed phrases up that he didn’t hear that often.  He was probably about 5 or 6 when I needed to do a quick pit-stop for some dry cleaning and he asked me “are we going to the tumble drier?”.

We’ve also heard references to “square words” from my youngest (in case you’re wondering, “stupid” is a “square word” apparently) and heard his delight when recounting a film (“The Witch behind the Wardrobe”) that he watched with his grandparents when they were taking care of him.  It was only because my mother-in-law had also mentioned it to me that I knew he was really talking about “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”.

The charm lies not only in the comedy of the errors, it’s also because it highlights their relative naivety about the world.  That’s probably something that has been an unexpected bonus about having kids.  Being able to see and experience things through their eyes certainly makes the world seem shiny, interesting and new.  It’s a journey of discovery for them – their morning can be made or broken by the type of breakfast cereal on offer, or whether their socks are itchy.  Yes, it can be draining at times, but it is also amazing to be able to make someone’s day by finding their lost Lego figure.

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