From April 2015

Who Is This?

Who Is ThisThe Toddler is in the play area at the doctors’ surgery. She has made a friend. Her new friend is a little girl who appears to be around three, about a year older than The Toddler. As a more experienced toddler, The New Friend knows more of the words to ‘Ring a Ring o Roses’ than The Toddler. This causes great excitement. Furthermore, The New Friend appears to be as obsessed with ‘Ring a Ring o Roses’ as The Toddler is. This causes even greater excitement. The Toddler is unaccustomed to people spontaneously engaging her in ‘Ring a Ring o Roses’. Usually, ‘Ring a Ring o Roses’ only occurs after several minutes of jumping, emphatic arm waving, and yells of ‘Ring Pock’ and ‘Stand up!’ from The Toddler. The Toddler is delighted with her new friend.

The New Friend, with her advanced lyrical knowledge, appears slightly bemused by the ‘ring a pock…choo…fall down’ version of the song now being hollered by The Toddler. Nonetheless, numerous renditions are enjoyed. Two head to nose collisions occur. The New Friend cries. The Toddler is too excited to cry. The Toddler says sorry, though she was not particularly at fault. (The Toddler routinely says sorry in any situation in which she has concluded that someone probably needs to apologise. She is unconcerned with whether she is saying sorry for herself or for someone else. She is merely pleased that she has correctly identified a ‘sorry’ situation.) The Toddler and The New Friend move on to a new game in the play area. The exact nature of the new game is unclear to outsiders, but the new game is extremely entertaining.

A boy, probably a little older than The New Friend, enters the play area. He approaches The Toddler and The New Friend cautiously. The Toddler does not notice him. She is playing. The boy stands there. He is unsure what to do. It appears he may want to play with the girls, but he remains wary. They are awfully loud. They are engaged in a game that is as incomprehensible as it is exuberant. They may be dangerous.

The Toddler looks up. She sees the boy. She moves closer to the boy. She points at him. She says loudly, apparently to the room in general, ‘Who is this?’ The little boy is taken aback. He is unprepared. He did not expect to be required to confirm his identity. He is uncertain whether the question is even being asked of him: is someone else being asked to confirm his identity? Does he need references? He fears further interrogation along the lines of ‘where did you come from?’ and ‘why are you here?’ may follow. He looks scared and backs up slightly. The situation is, as he feared, dangerous.

The danger has not passed. The Toddler asked a question. She has not received a response. Who on earth this interloper to the play area is remains unanswered. The Toddler looks at Silly Mummy, she points at The Scared Boy again: ‘Mummy! Who is this??’ The Scared Boy backs right out of the play area. Silly Mummy suggests to The Toddler that she could ask The Scared Boy his name. The Toddler has lost interest. The Scared Boy had his chance.

The Scared Boy watches The Toddler and The New Friend in awe. He follows them from a distance, not daring to approach again. He does not try to speak to them. The Toddler has inadvertently become the intimidating, commanding Ruler of the Play Area. She is unaware of her new position. She just wondered who the boy was. ‘Hello, nice to meet you. I’m The Toddler, what’s your name?’ is a level of sophistication she has yet to achieve in her greetings. She takes a direct approach: ‘Who is this?’, ‘Sit there!’ (She does, in fact, do ‘pleased to meet you’. It involves yelling, ‘Meet! Meet!’ at people, whilst grabbing at their hands. It may not have reassured The Scared Boy.) The Toddler does not know that being referred to loudly, with accompanying jabbing finger, as ‘this’ is considered by some to be mildly off putting.

It is likely The Scared Boy would have been even more confused had he known that The New Friend had neatly side-stepped any (unintentionally aggressive) question of who she was by launching directly into ‘Ring a Ring o Roses’. The Toddler knew all she needed to know immediately. Introductions between fellow ‘Ring Pock’ fanatics are, evidently, extremely unnecessary.

Hide and Seek

Hide And Seek‘Grammy’ (Grandma) came to visit and played a game of hide and seek with The Toddler’s toys. Grammy would tell The Toddler to close her eyes. The Toddler would squint. (For some reason, The Toddler appears to believe she cannot close her eyes. We have yet to get to the bottom of this.) Grammy would tell The Toddler to cover her eyes. Grammy would hide the toy. The Toddler would uncover her eyes. Grammy would ask The Toddler where the toy was: ‘Where’s the hoppit?’ We would look around until we found where Grammy had hidden the hoppit. You get the idea. The game is very simple, nothing funny about the game, until…

Grammy leaves. The next day, The Toddler is playing by herself. She takes a toy. She hides it under a cushion. She covers her own eyes (yes, AFTER she has hidden the toy). She asks herself, ‘Where Piggle? Where Piggle gone?’ By some strange piece of luck, she locates the hiding place rather quickly, and merrily bounces over to where Iggle Piggle is concealed. She announces, ‘Oh findy! There it is!’ She proceeds to hide Iggle Piggle from herself again. And again.

The Toddler sees no flaw in her version of this game. She seems to find it equally as entertaining as Grammy’s version. In fact, she seems to find it more entertaining, on account of the fact that Silly Mummy – inexplicably – finds it absolutely hilarious.

Dolls Are People Too

Dolls Are People TooThe Toddler has one of those little plastic doll’s houses, with moveable furniture and a couple of little people and animals.

It appears that The Toddler has been reading up on her landlord and tenant law. Although she owns the property (toy), there are tenants (dolls) living there, and The Toddler knows that they have rights. For example, she must give notice to enter the property: toddler landlords cannot just be barging into doll’s houses whenever they feel like it. The Toddler is a good landlord.

Therefore, The Toddler can be found knocking on the door of her own doll’s house, requesting entry: ‘Come in? Yes? Okkkaay!’ The Toddler’s respect for her little plastic tenants does not end there. The Toddler consults them before playing with them: ‘Bath? Washy? Yes? Okkkaay!’

The Toddler has evidently taken her imaginative play to the next level. It’s a slippery slope: one minute you are pretending your toys are real people, offering them ‘tea cup’ and cake, and the next thing you know they have an assured shorthold tenancy and are enjoying the protection of the Human Rights Act.

The Grape Did It!

The Grape Did ItThe Toddler has been eating some black grapes. There are now suspicious purple stains all over her white tights. Silly Mummy says, ‘Look at this! How did this happen?’ The Toddler confidently replies, ‘Naughty Mummy!’
‘No, not naughty Mummy! Mummy didn’t do it. Who did it?’
‘Naughty Mummy!’
‘It wasn’t Mummy. As the Mummy in question, I am quite sure about this.’
‘Naughty Anny!’ (By which she means ‘Auntie’.)
‘Auntie isn’t here. Auntie wasn’t naughty. Who was naughty?’
(Thinks) ‘Grape naughty! Naughty grape!’

Passing the blame, toddler style. We now have a guilty grape, a strawberry who is wanted as an accessory, and a toddler who is rather pleased with herself.

The Baby Is Sorry

The Baby's SorryThe Toddler and The Baby are in the nursery. The Toddler is getting dressed. The Baby is rolling. The Baby opens a drawer. Silly Mummy closes the drawer. The Baby opens the drawer.

The Toddler knows the drill. The Baby needs to be careful. Silly Mummy says be careful with the drawers. The Toddler says, ‘Careful, The Baby!’ The Baby is not interested in careful, she is feeling reckless, she heads back to the drawer. The Toddler remains in control. The Baby is now being naughty. The Toddler knows what to do: ‘No, The Baby! Naughty!’ The Baby opens the drawer.

The Baby is very naughty. The Toddler knows about this, too. We say sorry when we are naughty. The Toddler says, ‘Sorry!’ Silly Mummy is confused: ‘Why are you sorry?’ The Toddler clarifies, ‘No, The Baby sorry! The Baby naughty. The Baby sorry!’ The Baby does her best not to look sorry at all.

Bin!

BinThe Toddler is a fan of putting things in the bin. In fact, ‘bin’ may have been one of her earliest words. The Toddler likes to instruct Silly Mummy to put things in the bin: ‘Mummy! Bin!’ She likes to inform Silly Mummy that she is putting something in the bin: ‘Ooh bin!’ She likes to report on the events as they unfold on those occasions when The Baby rolls over to the bin and tries to stick her head in it: ‘The Baby! Bin! Naughty!’

We went to town. The Toddler ate some raisins in her pushchair. Whilst in M&S, The Toddler smiled at a shop assistant. The shop assistant smiled back and said, ‘Hello’. The Toddler knows a range of appropriate responses for dealing with just such a situation. She is adept at waving, smiling, saying ‘hello’, even holding out her hand and excitedly squealing, ‘Meet! Meet!’ (by which she means, ‘Pleased to meet you’). Armed with such a rich arsenal of suitable replies to the lady’s ‘hello’, The Toddler imperiously held out her empty raisin box and said, ‘Bin!’

Upon being told by Silly Mummy that it is not polite to hand one’s rubbish to strangers and demand that they put it in the bin, The Toddler considered her actions, nodded wisely and added, ‘Thanks!’ Satisfied that she had now been politely rude, The Toddler smiled charmingly…and continued to hold out her raisin box expectantly.

Five Little Monkeys

5 Little MonkeysThe Toddler has discovered singing. She has two singing styles: crooning gibberish in a sing-song voice, and shouting random words from the lyrics of songs she knows. Both are hilarious.

The Toddler has a few favourite numbers. ‘Ring Pock’ (‘Ring a Ring o’ Roses’) happens several times a day, and has evolved from ‘ring…DOWN’ to the current ‘ring a pock…choo…fall DOWN.’ Everyone must join in, this is mandatory. In further singing news, ‘more happy know’ (‘If You’re Happy and You Know It’) has become a popular refrain, the horn on the bus beeps rather excitedly, we have ‘head…knees AND toes’, and The Toddler’s croc and giraffe are now engaged in a rousing rendition of (who would have thought it) ‘Ring Pock’.

However, special mention must go to the song ‘Five Little Monkeys’. ‘Monkey bed! Monkey bed!’, as we know it, is very entertaining to The Toddler for a number of reasons. Firstly, there are monkeys and they are BOUNCING ON A BED! On a bed, I tell you! Then, would you believe it? They only go and bump their heads. We already know ‘bump head’ is a cause of great mirth for The Toddler: ‘Bump Head The Baby’, ‘Bump head The Toddler’ (this latter usually accompanied by the inexplicable act of vigorously whacking herself on the head to illustrate the aforementioned bump). Does the excitement of ‘Five Little Monkeys’ stop with bouncing on beds and bumped heads? No. No, it does not. There is a doctor, and he says, ‘No more’. Anyone who has ever tried to stop a toddler from doing anything will know that there is no phrase they consider to be more amusing than ‘no more’. ‘No more’ in a song, said in a funny voice, accompanied by energetic ‘no’ hand gestures? To quote The Toddler: ‘Oh wow!’ The Toddler joins in this bit of the song with great gusto and wild arm waving. This is funny, but is not the reason the song gets a special mention. Oh no.

The Toddler and The Baby went to see the doctor last week. The rather bemused doctor inspected The Baby, whilst The Toddler, standing behind him, hollered, ‘Ooh, doctor! Monkey bed! Monkey bed! No more! Mummy! Monkey bed! Doctor! Monkey bed!’

Silly Mummy wonders how many times a week ‘monkey bed!’ (or, for that matter, ‘Polly dolly quick!’) is yelled at confused doctors by nursery rhyme crazed toddlers? Someone should commission a survey. Maybe Silly Mummy will look into it. Or maybe not. Just in case the answer is it has happened exactly once. Last week.

Baby Signing

Baby SigningWe have done some signing with The Toddler. We didn’t go to any of the various signing classes that are around, but Silly Mummy took a course and we have a couple of DVDs. We used signs for basic words (‘milk’, ‘bath’, ‘more’, ‘nappy’) from a very young age, though The Toddler showed little interest until she was around a year old. At that point, she started watching the DVDs and she became obsessed.

Of course, Silly Mummy heard the usual mix of contradictory views when it came to the benefits of signing with babies and toddlers. Those who love it and maintain it helps babies communicate, those who believe it is a silly fad, those who are adamant it can actually delay the development of spoken language. Silly Mummy dismissed the latter objections as unlikely, in her opinion. Silly Mummy took the view that the way sign language is used for babies is a very basic form of Makaton, which is designed to help people to communicate and aid speech development. Therefore, Silly Mummy considered it unlikely to be harmful. Silly Mummy thought that at worst it would have no impact at all, at best it would be fun and might help The Toddler communicate. We gave it a go.

Our experience of signing with The Toddler has been positive. The Toddler loved her signing DVDs, even when she had shown no interest in watching any other TV programmes. She learnt a lot of signs very quickly, and merrily started to use them to communicate what she wanted. ‘More food’, mostly. As her spoken language started to develop, she used signs and speech. Some words she would only say, some she would only sign, many she both spoke and signed.

The signs seemed to help The Toddler to learn to enjoy language, and why not? She got to wave her arms around. Toddlers like to wave their arms around. The signs seemed to give The Toddler confidence. She had learnt signs for words, successfully communicated that way, been praised. She happily progressed to trying to say the words. The signs provided her with an additional method of communicating. If she could not say the word properly, she would use the sign too and we would usually understand her. She continued to succeed; her confidence continued to grow.

The example that comes to mind is the hippos. The Toddler had a hippo phase. Hippos are funny. She wanted to talk about hippos. Now, hippos are not the most ubiquitous of animals around these parts. Hippos do not play as big a part in daily life as The Toddler briefly believed they did. During that bath at the start of The Toddler’s Hippo Phase, Silly Mummy is not sure hippo would ever have come to mind when she began insistently shouting, ‘Hip! Hip! Hip!’ Silly Mummy looked confused. Silly Mummy made some suggestions. These were wrong. The Toddler tried again, this time with signs. ‘Ah! Hippo?’
‘Yes! Hip! Hip!’ (It turned out The Toddler believed her turtle was a hippo. That took a little longer to resolve.)

This Silly Mummy would therefore respectfully suggest that the benefits of signing with babies and toddlers can be summarised as follows. If you find yourself talking to a toddler about hippos, it is really helpful to know you are talking about hippos. Baby signing can help you to know when you are talking about hippos.

The Toddler, at nearly two, has a very large vocabulary. She talks in simple sentences. She still uses some of the signs she particularly likes. She is a good communicator. She can usually make herself understood. The Toddler understands that signs, gestures and context can be used to make your meaning clearer. Like any toddler, she has tantrums sometimes when she does not get her way, or when she is overwhelmed. However, her tantrums are never because she is frustrated at not being understood, or because she feels unable to communicate what she wants. The Toddler is a confident, relaxed and prolific speaker. Some of that is probably her natural personality, but Silly Mummy thinks the signs helped. They have certainly been fun for her.

Oh Dropit

Oh DropitThe Toddler is very excited by dropping things. She is very excited by dropping things herself: ‘Oh dropit The Toddler!’ She is very excited when Silly Mummy drops things: ‘Oh dropit Mummy! Silly Mummy!’┬áIt is not the dropping itself that causes the excitement, but the chance to exclaim loudly, ‘Oh dropit!’

We went to the shops. When we returned, The Baby was asleep in the buggy. We took off our shoes and coats, and The Toddler went off to play. We left The Baby to continue sleeping in the buggy. We discussed that we were being very quiet because The Baby was sleeping. The Toddler agreed that we were being very quiet because The Baby was sleeping: ‘Shh! The Baby sleep!’

Silly Mummy went to put laundry in the washing machine, first reminding The Toddler to be very quiet (baby sleeping, you know). Silly Mummy heard The Toddler drop something with a noisy bang, followed by a loud shout of, ‘Oh dropit!’ A pause. Then, this time very quietly, ‘Oh no…The Baby!’ The Baby started to cry. The Toddler came to the doorway and yelled, ‘Oh no! The Baby! Wake!’ A further pause, then, ‘Oops!’
‘She is awake, yes, darling. Did you drop something?’
(Gleefully) ‘Yes! Dropit!’

R Is for Hoppit

R is for HoppitThe Toddler loves rabbits. The Toddler has had several words for rabbits. The first word for rabbit was ‘mouse’. Clearly, she was confused as to what a rabbit is. (Her cuddly donkey is currently living a double life as a ‘Cow! Moo!’)

Mouse confusion cleared up, we discussed rabbits. Rabbits, of course, are one of those awkward animals. What noise does a rabbit make? We need the noise. How do we teach children animal names? ‘Cat. Cats say “meow”. Dog. Dogs say “woof”. Sheep. Sheep say “baa”. Rabbit. Rabbits say…oh.’ We need the noise! Never mind. We have it covered: rabbits hop! Hop little bunny, hop, hop, hop! So The Toddler called rabbits ‘hops’. She enjoyed hopping like a hop.

Then The Toddler noticed that other people were calling the hops ‘rabbits’. She decided this should not be ignored. Rabbit should be incorporated into hop. She called them ‘hoppits’. It became immediately clear to us all that rabbits are, of course, hoppits. Why are we not all calling rabbits hoppits? We should all be calling them hoppits. The terrible error that has led to hoppits being wrongly referred to as rabbits all this time should be immediately rectified.

Sadly, The Toddler’s flashcards refused to conform to this name change. They stubbornly maintained that rabbits are, in fact, called rabbits. R is for rabbit. The Toddler enjoys the flashcards.
‘H is for?’
‘Hat!’
‘M is for?’
‘Man!’
‘A is for?’
‘Apple!’
‘R is for?’
‘Hoppit!’
‘Rabbit. R is for rabbit. What is r for?’
‘Hoppit!’

The Toddler can now say ‘rabbit’. She humours the less progressive among us (and her flashcards), employing the traditional terminology when necessary to avoid confusion. In private, however, she continues the crusade. The dream will become reality. ‘Hoppit’ will enter the Oxford Dictionary. One day, r will be for hoppit!