Talking. One of the milestones that as a parent you look forward to. That moment when your offspring can actually tell you their problem instead of just standing their crying, whining, screaming. You can ask them a question, they can give you an answer. It may start as a one or two-word answer, but it still beats the hell out of whining. Funny thing about this talking milestone is that once they start, you find yourself wondering exactly why you were so excited for them to start in the first place. It is quite the process, one that takes years to develop. I now have kids at all different levels of the talking ladder and after thinking about it I am amazed (and scared) at the evolution of a talker.
You bring home your sweet, precious, quiet newborn. He sleeps 20 hours a day and eats on a regular schedule. Baby keeps eating, growing, starts staying awake a little more, a little babble, a little more crying. Months pass, you spend your days playing and talking in one word sentences with the hopes that baby will catch on to a word here or there. Ball. BA-BY. Dog. Cat. Ma-Ma. Da-Da. Toes. Finally baby mumbles a word. Ma-Ma. You get SO excited because you just know that he is speaking months ahead of all other babies and he will be a genius. You are pissed because you didn’t get it on video, but that’s OK because now that Junior is talking you will have so many opportunities to catch him on video. Just to spite you, baby doesn’t form another intelligible word for months. Damn it.
Finally baby grows into a toddler. Walking, screaming, throwing shit, climbing, more screaming. Life is great. You think to yourself that now is the time, this kid is gonna start talking. I can NOT take anymore of this grunting, pointing, screaming. Oh GOD the screaming. After more intensive one word at a time therapy, Junior speaks. The moment you have been waiting for…an intelligible word. You never thought you would be so excited over one word. The word. NO. Oh, it’s so cute. Junior, you want a drink? NO. You want to play blocks? NO. You want to eat lunch? NO. You want to go the park? NO. Son of a….If this kid says the word “no” one more time, heaven help me. I have GOT to teach this little munchkin some more words.
Toddler starts turning into quite the talker. He progresses past the word “no”, not that he quits using it, but has developed a bit of a vocabulary so he has other words to help him pass the time. This is the “cute talker” stage. Everything they say is cute. Awe, he said “twuck”, isn’t that sweet? He wants a “dwinky”, that is so cute. Hey mom, he said my name! Isn’t that cute? What’s that? You want a…. WHAT DID YOU SAY??? Oh God. It’s a FORK, FFFF-OOORRRRRRRR-KKK. FORK. Oh crap, so much for going out to eat in public.
Toddler turns 4 and overcomes the small problem he had with the letter R. At least now the kid can form a complete sentence. It may not always make sense, but at least it is a sentence. “I have crunchy peanut butter in my eye” WHAT? This age becomes difficult because the words are there, but they are still unable to put them together in logical sentences. Why are you mad Junior? ”Johnny took my underwear and ate them for lunch” Excuse me? Do you mean you went to CHANGE your underwear and Johnny ate your lunch while you were gone? I’m pretty sure that Johnny would NOT want to eat your underwear. That would cause many problems that I am not ready to discuss with you. This age also presents the problem of too many words, not enough brain space. The moment when said 4-year-old gets so pissed at a sibling that the words just won’t form so Junior just resorts to the high-pitched scream, grunt, and toy chucking. Not an enjoyable time, you pray that this stage passes quickly.
The four-year old turns into a five-year old, starts school, and gains not only intelligence points but gains better control over his vocabulary. They become more inquisitive about the meanings of words, which in turn begins testing the intelligence of their parents;
“Dad, what do you mean by absorbs?”
“You know, sucks it up.”
“You mean like a butterfly’s proboscis?”
“I don’t know what that is, but I was thinking more along the lines of a sponge.”
(This was an actual conversation that occurred between Farmer Bob and the Boy. I can’t make this shit up)
It is at this point you really start to not only question; A. exactly what ARE they learning in school? and B. am I a complete dumb ass? You start reading books other than Dr. Seuss with the hopes of increasing your vocabulary, and you do it quickly.
My eldest spawn is now 10. There are days when I would pay thousands of dollars for a roll of duct tape in order to not listen to her mouth. I have been told; ohhhh, just wait. It will get worse. To that I say this…UGH. Seeing as she is not only the oldest of five, but she is only at the ripe old age of 10, holy schmoly I have a SHITLOAD of years left to deal with these types of quality conversations:
“Please go water the flowers for me”
“But Grandpa said it’s gonna rain”
“Turn off your light, it’s time to go to sleep”
“But I’m still reading”
“Your hair looks really cute”
“But my bangs are sticking out”
“I was really just hoping for a ‘thank you mom’ there”
I am so damn tired of hearing the word “but”. It makes me want to stick my foot in her butt. I am convinced that she would argue with me over the color of the grass or that the strawberries are really grapes. It doesn’t make a hill of beans of difference if I am right or not, she knows everything and I know jack shit. I suppose I should attempt to get used to this, to just let it roll off of me, but we have loooooong road ahead of us. A road that I hope will be lined with vineyards with a vat of wine at the end.
Here’s the thing, I am afraid that if I get used to it now what will happen when these kids are 18, 16, 14, 13, and 11? (Holy shit, that scares me just a little!) I have survived this evolution up to this point and I am not ready to risk complete anarchy and the possibility of being overrun by a handful of smart ass kids. I must arm myself and be prepared for this next step in the evolution. While I am unsure of exactly what weapons I will need for this battle, I will force myself to think back to when I was that age. It wasn’t that long ago, surely I can remember something. Oh. CRAP. I’m screwed.
* Originally published in August 2012
Have you read about Lilly and Hannah yet? Read their story here and see how you can help one pair of slippers at a time. THANK YOU!!!!