From May 2015

The Toddler Alphabet

Toddler AlphabetAn A-Z of The Toddler’s favourite, funniest and most misunderstood words.

A is for ‘Armpit’

By which The Toddler means ‘open it’. Present opening on The Toddler’s second birthday had so many armpits it needed deodorant: ‘Daddy, armpit! Armpit, daddy! Daddy, help – armpit!’

B is for ‘Back soon!’

Bedtime now frequently involves: ‘Night night, Mummy. Back soon!’ No, The Toddler is not telling Silly Mummy to come back soon – she is informing Silly Mummy that she herself will be back soon. In about 12 hours, to be precise. Other ‘back soon’ situations include:
‘Bye bye, Mummy, back soon!’
‘Sweetheart, you’ve gone to the playpen. I’m sitting next to the playpen.’
‘Yes. Back soon!’

C is for ‘Cuggle’ and ‘Come on!’

The Toddler loves cuddles. Several times a day she doles out ‘cuggle…aaahh’ to each person present in turn. There is a good chance The Toddler believes ‘cuddleaaahh’ is actually the word.

Since The Baby learnt to crawl, it has gradually dawned on The Toddler that she can take The Baby everywhere. Thus, several times a day, The Toddler can be found marching purposefully to nowhere in particular calling, ‘Come on, The Baby! Quick quick!’ Should The Baby fail to follow, The Toddler will return and try to pick her up. The Baby will give The Toddler a look of polite bemusement, and remain stubbornly planted on her bum.

D is for ‘Dropit’ and ‘Don’t’

‘Dropit’ has a dual meaning. Firstly, the obvious ‘dropped it’. This is often accompanied by ‘oh dear me’ (see also O), ‘oops’, ‘uh oh’ and ‘sorry’ (see also S). Secondly, the less obvious ‘threw it and everyone saw me, but dropped it is much more innocent’. This is also usually accompanied by the likes of ‘oops’ and ‘sorry’ (in order to maintain the ‘dropped it’ story).

‘Don’t’ is a nice variation on ‘no’ (see also N). It is most commonly shouted whilst The Toddler is doing something we don’t do, in order to demonstrate that she is aware that we don’t do it. Also, when The Baby is misbehaving. The Baby literally laughs in the face of ‘don’t’.

E is for ‘End’

The Toddler takes skipping to the end of books to the extreme: ‘Each Peach Pear Plum…The End…Take it away!’ (http://risforhoppit.uk/reading/)

F is for ‘Five Little Monkeys’ and ‘Find it’

‘Five Little Monkeys’ (‘Five Little Monkeys…Bouncy Bed…Fall down…Bump head…Mum call doctor said…NO more monkey bouncy on the BED!’) is a favourite song. The Toddler launches into it at random several times most days (and when faced with a doctor. (http://risforhoppit.uk/five-little-monkeys/))

The Toddler is a big fan of finding any missing item immediately. Not herself, of course: The Toddler’s role is mainly to issue instructions and oversee. This involves shouting, ‘Mummy, find it!’ Missing items may include Grandma. Mummy (putting down phone): ‘Grandma’s not in at the moment.’
The Toddler: ‘Mummy, find her!’

G is for ‘Gruffalo’

The Toddler is able to provide a concise summary of ‘The Gruffalo’: ‘Gruffalo! Where going brown mouse? Where going brown mouse? Where going brown mouse? The end!’ (See also E)

H is for ‘Hoppit’ and ‘Hoover’

‘Hoppit’ is, of course, ‘rabbit’ (see also R). No word yet on whether talking too much is ‘hoppiting on’.

‘Hoover’ is the solution to all ‘messy’. Therefore, The Toddler can be found during dirty nappy changes suggesting, ‘Ooh, messy – hoover!’

I is for ‘I’m okay, thanks, Mummy’ and ‘In here! Put it in here!’

The Toddler is now a sophisticated lady about town, who responds to enquiries about her health and general well-being with, ‘I’m okay, thanks, Mummy.’

‘In here! Put it in here!’ is important for such standard, reasonable requests as putting The Toddler’s raisins in her magnifying glass.

J is for ‘Jump’

‘Jump’ requires very little explanation. Jumping is, as all toddlers know, the primary method of getting from one place to another.

K is for ‘Keep’

As in: ‘Nooo! Me keep! Me keep a Mummy’s phone!’ Or (when Silly Mummy comes to remove The Toddler’s bib following lunch): ‘Keep a bib…yoghurt?’ (See also Y)

L is for ‘Love you’ and ‘Look’

The Toddler is selective about ‘love you’. Mostly she loves The Baby.
Silly Mummy: ‘Night night. Love you. Can you say love you?’
The Toddler: ‘Love The Baby!’
Daddy: ‘Do you love Mummy too?’
The Toddler: ‘No! Love The Baby!’
Silly Mummy: ‘Okay then! Night night. Love you.’
The Toddler: ‘…Love Mummy’.

As for ‘look’, well, everyone must look at all times. No exceptions. Even if you’re a cat: ‘Jump! Look, Cat – jump! Jump, jump, jump! Look, Cat!’ The cat does not look. A pause. ‘Look, Mummy!’

M is for ‘More gain’ and ‘Mine’

The Toddler hasn’t taken up creating motivational slogans. She means ‘more again!’ She likes to make doubly clear that the activity in question will be repeated.

‘Mine’ is a word used to denote raisin possession.

N is for ‘No’

Variations include ‘nooey’, a special version of ‘no’ reserved for when The Toddler is ramping up to a full blown tantrum for reasons unknown. ‘Nooey’ is to be screeched in response to any request that The Toddler do anything, particularly if the activity she is being asked to undertake is something she was begging to do only moments before.

O is for ‘Oh dear me’

As in: ‘Dropit! Oh dear me!’

P is for ‘Pease’ and ‘Peekaboo’

‘Pease’ is a powerful word created for the purpose of obtaining more raisins.

‘Peekaboo’ is a game that involves throwing various items over The Baby’s head and seeing if she removes them. If she does, The Toddler shouts ‘peekaboo’ and claps. If she does not, The Toddler pretends to know nothing about why The Baby is patiently sitting under a box/muslin.

Q is for ‘Quack’
(Singing) ‘Sarah and duck: quack!’ (Someone spent a long time on that theme tune!)

R is for ‘Hoppit’ (of course) and ‘Raisys’

As it would take too long to explain here, for anyone wondering why R is for hoppit, thinking Silly Mummy’s spelling is atrocious, or just realising that they have automatically corrected to ‘rabbit’ in their head, please see here: http://risforhoppit.uk/r-is-for-hoppit/

Harmonious Toddler-Mummy relations are based almost entirely upon complex raisin treaties. The currency is also raisins. The exchange rate varies, but usually it is roughly one box of raisins to one agreement to get in the pushchair so we can actually go home.

S is for ‘Sorry’ and ‘Sit down here!’

Many of The Toddler’s ‘sorrys’ are for things other people have done. To this day, it is not known whether The Toddler (a) frequently apologises when she was not at fault, or (b) just likes to inform others of the apology she feels they should be giving. Silly Mummy accidentally bumps into The Toddler. The Toddler exclaims, ‘Sorry, Mummy!’ Is she apologising for her arm selfishly minding its own business in the space where Silly Mummy’s knee evidently wanted to be, or is she informing Silly Mummy that Silly Mummy should be sorry? Silly Mummy just does not know. The Toddler is either the sweetest, most accommodating child ever, or a master of sarcasm.

‘Sit down here’ is a command frequently employed to compel random confused strangers, in various unlikely locations, to sit down in a very specific place in order that The Toddler can serve them imaginary ‘cake and carrot’ (no, she does not mean ‘carrot cake’). It is likely the cake and carrot will be ‘hot’. The stranger will therefore be blown on. The cat and The Baby are also frequent recipients of the ‘sit down here’ command. The cat and The Baby deal with the command in an identical fashion: they sit down somewhere else. (Not together. The Baby is in love with the cat. The cat does not feel the same way. It’s awkward.)

T is for ‘Tick tock’ and ‘Tea cup’

The Toddler is obsessed with ‘tick tock’ – and all things clock related – to the extent that Silly Mummy suspects she might be Captain Hook. Silly Mummy blames ‘Hickory Dickory Dock’. Which Grandma introduced. Silly Mummy blames Grandma.

The Toddler is also obsessed with tea, tea cups and ‘Tea for Two’. Which Grandma introduced. Silly Mummy blames Grandma. Cafes cannot be passed without The Toddler yelling ‘tea cup’, and insisting on going in so she can make Silly Mummy drink tea.

U is for ‘Up’

‘Up there!’ This is where The Toddler knows all the fun stuff is kept.

V is for ‘Bus’

Well, ‘van’, but van is too subtle a distinction for The Toddler. Everything is a car or a bus.

W is for ‘What’s that?’, ‘Where is it?’, ‘Who’s this?’ and ‘Wake up!’

What, where, who: The Toddler’s favourite questions. No one expects The Toddler Inquisition.

The Toddler likes to pretend to be asleep. She has learnt to do pretend snoring. When she is quite sure everyone is convinced she is asleep (despite the fact that her eyes are open, she is standing up and she is giggling), she bounces around and screams, ‘Wake up!’

X is for

Well, x-actly nothing. The Toddler does not yet know ‘xylophone’.

Y is for ‘Yoghurt’

The Toddler loves yoghurt. The Toddler knows to phrase requests carefully. The magic word when asking for raisins may be ‘please’, but the magic word when asking for yoghurt is clearly ‘spoon’. (http://risforhoppit.uk/yoghurt-spoon/) A toddler has to be practical.

Z is for ‘Stripey Horse’

‘Zebra, darling.’

Jam

JamThe Toddler is looking for jam. The Toddler has made tea and toast with her toy breakfast set. She now needs the jam. Probably for the toast, but who can be sure? She has regularly served people egg in their tea cups, and her favourite imaginary food offering is ‘carrot and cake’. (I would love to pretend The Toddler is very sophisticated and offers people imaginary carrot cake. I would, however, be lying. It is not carrot cake. It is carrot AND cake.) So, anyway, The Toddler needs jam. Probably for the toast, but possibly to spread on eggs or stir into tea.

Now, I must point out at this juncture that there is no jam. The Toddler’s breakfast set includes bread, croissants, eggs, spoons, knives, plates, cups, a kettle and a toaster, but no jam. The jam is entirely imaginary. This seems to be somewhat impeding the search. It is very difficult to find objects that are both hidden and non-existent.

The Toddler wanders around the room, providing jam-related commentary: ‘Where jam? Here? No. Here? No. Of course…The Toddler’s spoon!’ Briefly thought the jam had been located there? So did Silly Mummy but, no, it was the spoon. Of course! Unaware we had also been hunting for a spoon? Join the club. The spoon is reunited with its tea cup, but the imaginary jam remains AWOL. ‘More jam!’ More? Apparently there has already been jam. It must be around here somewhere then. ‘Where jam?’

Silly Mummy has a brainwave. Silly Mummy lifts up a cushion and holds out an imaginary jar: ‘Here it is! It was behind the cushion.’ The Toddler shakes her head. She is not fooled. Whatever imaginary substance is in that imaginary jar, it is not imaginary jam. Furthermore, the imaginary jar of the unidentified imaginary substance, which Silly Mummy made up on a whim just seconds ago, belongs behind that cushion! The Toddler takes the rejected imaginary jar and puts it back behind the cushion.

The jam is still missing. ‘Where jam? Think! Where’s it gone?’ The Toddler sees her tea cups and is briefly distracted: ‘Tea for two!’ Briefly. ‘Looky jam. Where?’ The Toddler looks in her box of books: ‘No!’ She looks in her box of cuddly toys: ‘No! Look, Mummy, Daddy! Got dina!’ She waves around her stuffed dinosaur, jam apparently forgotten. The dinosaur is harder to spread on toast, but more tangible than imaginary lost jam. Swings and roundabouts.

The Toddler is still rifling through the cuddly toys: ‘Look! Rhino! Look! Horse big neck!’
‘Giraffe, sweetheart.’
‘Oh, yes, giraffe. Tall giraffe. Bouncy giraffe. What sound makey giraffe?’
‘It…Well, it…It makes…Erm…Daddy? Anything to add?’
Daddy jumps right in with, ‘Er…’
Silly Mummy knows just what to say: ‘Weren’t you looking for jam, darling?’
‘No. What noisy giraffe make?’
Several minutes of parental googling later and we know the answer: they don’t (well, the babies occasionally moo).

ABCs

ABCThe Toddler likes the alphabet at the moment. The alphabet is the new numbers. She repeats to herself, ‘A…B…C…A…B…C.’ Occasionally, she throws in ‘D’.

The ABC song is on the TV. The Toddler is watching and bouncing along. Silly Mummy says, ‘Are you doing your ABCs?’ The Toddler stops what she is doing and looks at Silly Mummy. She puts on her best humouring Silly Mummy voice and replies, ‘No: CBeebies!’ Silly Mummy.

I’m Okay, Thanks: Developing Language

I'm Okay ThanksThe other day, as The Toddler carefully (& oh so inexplicably) arranged her tea set in front of the stair gate in the hallway, Silly Mummy called to her from the living room, ‘How’re you doing, The Toddler?’ Her little voice replied, ‘I’m okay, thanks, Mummy.’ This may be the most grown up thing Silly Mummy has heard her say, and highlights just how far her language has developed in a few short months.

The Toddler is now 25 months old. Though she said a few words before, the vast majority of her spoken vocabulary has been acquired since she was around 18 months old. In just 7 months she has learnt hundreds of words, sentence structure, questions, answers, names, sounds, time frames, contrasting words, pronouns, prepositions, conjunctions, negatives. The list goes on. This just goes to show the difference between acquiring a language as a toddler and acquiring one at a later stage. After 7 months of learning to speak English, The Toddler knows a multitude of words, she can discuss her activities, ask questions, answer questions, give descriptions and be funny. By contrast, after 5 years of being a straight A French student, Silly Mummy can probably find out where the bank is. Silly Mummy’s best chance of being funny in French would be walking in the wrong direction having misunderstood where the bank is. (It is now clear that Silly Mummy is utterly pathetic, and The Toddler should be writing this blog about Silly Mummy’s attempts to communicate!)

Not so long ago, we would show The Toddler animals, tell her their names, ask her if she knew what they were. She knew a few. ‘Duck’, mostly. Ducks are very important. The other day, she held up a Lego sheep: ‘Ooh, baa! Sheep. Baa. Look, Mummy: baa. Sheep. Like in farm. Where farm?’ She looked for her toy farm, ‘There it is!’

The Toddler has learnt possession. ‘Mine’, obviously. They ALL know ‘mine’. But ‘socks’, ‘din din’, ‘tea’, ‘play toy’ have become ‘The Toddler’s socks’, ‘Daddy’s din din’, ‘Mummy’s tea’, ‘The Baby’s play toy.’ In fact, ‘The Toddler’s socks’ are now often ‘my socks’.

The Toddler’s first question word was ‘where’. She remains a big fan of ‘where’, due to its close connections to hide and seek and peekaboo. ‘Who’ (‘Who is THIS?’) is vital to conducting any Toddler Inquisition, and The Toddler, as we know, enjoys a good inquisition. (http://risforhoppit.uk/who-is-this/) The Toddler’s current firm favourite question is: ‘What’s that?’. The vague pointing in a general direction that usually accompanies this question can cause the conversation to go on for some time, whilst every object in the area is pointed out and named, only to be met with, ‘No. What’s THAT?’ Silly Mummy’s favourite question is the inimitable: ‘What noisy is that sound?’ We have yet to get to the infamous ‘why’, but we see it on the horizon, marching ever nearer with undeserved confidence.

Silly Mummy is interested to see that The Toddler is not learning by repetition alone. This is clear from the evolution of her ‘where’ questions. Initially, if anything was missing or hidden, she would say, ‘Where gone?’ Now, she usually says, ‘Where is it gone?’ This is not repetition. We know from the error in it. We say, ‘Where has it gone?’ The Toddler is not parroting our words, or she would also say, ‘Where has it gone?’ Rather, she has learnt that more goes into the structure of the sentence than ‘where gone’. She is not yet clear about how to choose or conjugate a verb. She makes the assumption that, because you would say ‘where is it’, the appropriate word for her sentence should be ‘is’. Clearly, The Toddler learns individual words by copying and repetition, but she is working out how to use them by more than mere parroting of our language. She is collecting information, drawing conclusions, making her own decisions. It is amazing to Silly Mummy that, faced with what must be an overwhelming volume of new data, The Toddler is able to process and use it so competently. Of course, the look of glee on her face when she realises she has used the right words, and communicated successfully, demonstrates what motivates her.

The Toddler likes to use all the words she knows conveying a specific meaning at once. When she wants something to continue, she does not just say ‘more’ or ‘again’, she says ‘more again’. Nappies that don’t need changing are ‘clean dry’. The brilliant ‘what noisy is that sound’ neatly demonstrates both The Toddler’s love of synonyms, and her construction of sentences she has not copied from adults. Again, the sentence is not quite right, but the logic she has used is clear.

A particularly sweet aspect of The Toddler’s developing language has been her emulation of things she hears Silly Mummy say to The Baby. The Toddler has heard Silly Mummy call to the crying baby, ‘Coming, The Baby!’ Whenever The Toddler is in a different room to The Baby and hears her cry she now yells, ‘Coming, The Baby!’ She repeats Silly Mummy’s warnings to The Baby, sometimes days after originally given: ‘No, The Baby. Don’t. The Baby can’t eat.’ In the interest of balance, she is also careful to copy Silly Mummy’s praise of The Baby: ‘Good Girl, The Baby!’ When The Toddler first began using ‘and’, The Baby was her most frequent ‘and’ item. She was very emphatic about it: ‘Mummy, Daddy AND The Baby.’

The Toddler has recently started to use comparisons, qualifications, time frames and relative locations. She tries to fit her cup in a holder that is too small and declares that the cup is ‘bigger’. Silly Mummy tells her it is not lunch time yet, and she responds, ‘No – later.’ She sees cakes in the background on the TV and says, ‘Cakes! Look! Cakes – at the back!’

Still, for all this remarkable progress, what strikes Silly Mummy the most are these new little grown up responses (‘I’m okay, thanks, Mummy.’). This is mostly because these phrases represent The Toddler moving away from using only the words absolutely vital to convey her meaning. It is partly, undeniably, because they are funny. The Toddler asks where The Baby’s toys are. Silly Mummy reminds her we have not got them out yet as we have been out all day. The Toddler replies, ‘Ok. Fine.’ The Toddler drops something and says, ‘Oh dear me.’ The Toddler asks Silly Mummy to get something. Silly Mummy queries, ‘This?’ The Toddler responds, ‘Yes, please. Sure.’ Silly Mummy giggles. The Toddler smiles indulgently: Silly Mummy is easily amused.

Throw and Catch

Throw And CatchThe Toddler knows ‘throw’ and ‘catch’ (and ‘kick’). She likes to run around with her balls shouting ‘throw’, ‘catch’, ‘Mummy throw the ball’.

However, it appears that The Toddler believes ‘throw’ and ‘catch’ are synonyms. She tears through the room screaming, ‘The Toddler throw the ball!’ As advertised, she then proceeds to fling the ball at unsuspecting targets around the room. She picks up the ball. She hollers, ‘The Toddler catch the ball!’ In a change to the advertised programming, she proceeds to fling the ball at even less suspecting targets around the room.

She has grasped that it is ‘throw and catch’. So she alternates. The words. She alternates the words. She clearly believes that using both words in turn, whilst repeatedly throwing the ball, is sufficient to constitute a game of throw and catch.

Of course, this means that attempts to teach The Toddler to catch have been unsuccessful. We call, ‘The Toddler – catch!’ She stands, politely bemused, whilst a ball bounces off her. She then proceeds to pick up said ball, scream ‘catch’ and launch it across the room.

Reading

ReadingThe Toddler has taken up reading. Which is to say she has taken up turning the pages of books, whilst narrating a combination of what she can see in the pictures & what she remembers of the story. ‘Baby…1,2,3…Bed…Sleep…Wake up…Peepo…Dog…Peepo…Grandma…
Glasses…Hat…Peepo…The end!’

The Toddler’s current favourite book is ‘The Gruffalo’. The Toddler loves ‘The Gruffalo’. Literally. She spends much of her time with her face inside the book saying, ‘Kiss a Gruffalo!’ The Toddler no longer gets out of bed until she has looked at ‘The Gruffalo’.

One day, when The Toddler is getting up, she asks to have both ‘The Gruffalo’ and The Baby in the bed with her. Silly Mummy warns The Toddler that The Baby will try to eat ‘The Gruffalo’ if she gets hold of it. The Toddler explains the situation to The Baby: ‘No, The Baby. No eat. This: Gruffalo! Read!’ The Baby understands. She puts ‘The Gruffalo’ in her mouth. The Toddler now follows every request for ‘The Gruffalo’ with, ‘The Baby can’t eat book!’ The Baby knows this is inaccurate. There are no books she ‘can’t’ eat. There are merely books people have been careless enough to leave in her reach, and books they have not.

The Toddler offers her reading services to those in need. She sits in bed with ‘The Gruffalo’ and teddy Binker. The Toddler announces, ‘Bink sad.’ She puts a blanket over Binker’s feet: ‘Tuck in. There – better. Read a Bink.’ She picks up ‘The Gruffalo’. She opens it. She pauses. She wonders if Binker needs to learn to look after himself. She closes ‘The Gruffalo’ and flings ‘James and the Giant Peach’ at Binker: ‘Bink, read this one, Bink.’ Binker looks at the book. He does not open it. He is too sad. The Toddler relents and opens ‘The Gruffalo’ again. Binker settles in for the story. He is not disappointed: ‘Where going brown mouse? Where going brown mouse? Where going brown mouse? LUNCH OVER!’

The Toddler wants to ensure she is well read. She therefore reluctantly puts aside ‘The Gruffalo’ and picks up ‘George’s Marvellous Medicine’. Also known as ‘Purple Book’ and ‘George Story’, Daddy sometimes reads this book to The Toddler at bedtime. The Toddler turns the pages. She tells her abridged version of the story: ‘No, George. Stop it, George. Naughty George!’ Silly Mummy considers that this is actually a reasonable summary of the book. The Toddler may have a career writing blurbs ahead of her. (Assuming her first vocation of Planning Officer does not work out. The Toddler is a natural. All duplo constructions erected without the appropriate permissions are immediately demolished. Furthermore, should The Toddler see anyone contemplating starting a duplo construction without planning permission, she is on site immediately with a cease and desist order. Well, more of a snatch and yell ‘NO’ order, really, but the effect is the same. I digress.)

Some of The Toddler’s abridged versions of her books are more abridged than others. The Toddler brings ‘Each Peach Pear Plum’ to Silly Mummy: ‘Mummy – read! Pea Pear Pum – read! Sit down there!’ Silly Mummy dutifully sits down there, opens the book and prepares to read.
‘No!’ The Toddler snatches the book away, ‘Me read!’
‘You want to read it yourself?’
‘Yes!’ The Toddler opens the book to the first page. She says, ‘Ee Pea Pear Pum.’ It is a good start. We are all very excited to learn what happens next in the thrilling story we feel sure awaits us. The Toddler turns to the very last page. She announces, ‘End!’ She slams the book shut. ‘All gone! Take away!’

Really, this reading lark is awfully easy. The title and the end are the important things. After all, it is clear to The Toddler that if the book has been both started and finished, it stands to reason that the book has been completed. Everything in the middle is very much optional. The Toddler wonders why people complain about how difficult it is to finish ‘War and Peace’. Do they not know where the ‘end’ page is?

The Baby Joins In

The Baby Joins InToday The Baby is saying ‘ba’. She is sitting on the floor, happily chattering: ‘Ba ba ba!’

The Toddler wanders over. She has her farm animals. We start doing animal noises. Silly Mummy asks, ‘What’s this?’
The Toddler replies, ‘Cow!’
‘What noise does a cow make?’
‘Moo!’
The Baby watches, fascinated. She smiles. She says, ‘Ba ba!’

We move on to the next animal. ‘What’s this?’
‘Pig!’
‘What noise does a pig make?’
‘Oink!’
‘Ba ba!’ says The Baby.

The Baby grabs the pig and starts to chew on it. Silly Mummy and The Toddler pick up another animal.
‘What’s this?’
‘Horse!’
‘What noise does a horse make?’
(Pause) ‘Moo?’
Silly Mummy says, ‘Neigh. Horses neigh.’
The Toddler says, ‘Neigh’.
The Baby says, ‘Ba ba!’

We turn our attention to the chicken. ‘What’s this?’
‘Bird! Tweet tweet!’
‘It is a type of bird, yes. It’s a chicken.’
‘Ooh chicka!’ (The Toddler has been a fan of ‘chickas’ since Easter.)
‘Chickens cluck, don’t they?’
‘Cuck?’ says The Toddler.
‘Ba ba!’ says The Baby.

Silly Mummy holds up another animal and asks, ‘What’s this?’
The Toddler answers, ‘Sheep!’
The Baby says, ‘Ba ba!’
‘What noise does a sheep make?’
The Baby says, ‘Ba ba!’
The Toddler says, ‘Baa!’

The Baby is thrilled. Everyone is now saying ‘ba’. Her persistence with ‘ba’ has paid off: she is accidentally part of the conversation. She says, ‘Ba ba ba!’ The Toddler laughs. The Baby is ecstatic. She has been funny. ‘Ba ba ba!’

Yoghurt Spoon!

Yogurt SpoonThe Toddler is eating lunch. She is having yoghurt (‘oghurt’) for dessert. The Toddler likes yoghurt.

The Toddler has finished her main course. She becomes immediately concerned that the offer of yoghurt may have been forgotten or withdrawn in the 15 minutes since it was made. The Toddler will check. She yells, ‘Oghurt! Mummy! Daddy! Grammy! Oghurt! Oghurt!’

We are trying to teach The Toddler to say ‘please’ when she wants something. The Toddler is good at ‘thanks’, and will now often say ‘thank you’ without prompting. She says ‘please’ (‘pease’) less frequently without prompts. Except when she has already been told ‘no’. ‘More raisys!’
‘No, sweetheart, you just had raisins. No more at the moment.’
(Whimpering) ‘More raisys…pease!’
(Evidently, The Toddler has understood that ‘please’ is connected to requests. It appears, however, that she considers throwing around pleases every time you ask for something to be inefficient. The Toddler feels that using a please in situations where someone is quite willing to accede to your request is a waste of a please. In order to preserve the power of the please, it should only be brought out in situations in which you are not getting what you want.)

So, The Toddler wants her yoghurt. Now. ‘Oghurt! Mummy! Daddy! Grammy! Oghurt! Oghurt!’ Daddy tries to inject some manners into proceedings: ‘What do we say? Yoghurt…?’ The Toddler is a helpful soul. Clearly, some confusion has arisen amongst the adults as to how this yoghurt thing works. The Toddler will assist with clear instructions. ‘What do we say? Yoghurt…?’
‘Spoon!’

The Parrots

The ParrotsThe Baby is very vocal. She is always up for a bit of random shouting. She enjoys a good squeal. She has much to say on the subject of bears: ‘Abear! Abear! Abear!’ Sadly for The Baby, whilst she chatters excitedly, loudly and incessantly, she is chattering in a different language to everyone around her. Even The Toddler is confused. The Toddler tries to explain to The Baby that there are no bears. She makes suggestions as to how The Baby may have become confused: ‘No, The baby! No bear – Daddy!’ The Baby is adamant: ‘Abear! Abear!’

The Baby and The Toddler are at the zoo. The Baby is unimpressed. She sleeps. Occasionally she cries. We go to see the parrots. The parrots screech and squawk. They make an almighty racket. The Baby smiles. This is more like it. The tigers ignored her. The giraffes were downright rude. These brightly-coloured, feathery creatures, on the other hand, appear to speak baby! The Baby yells, ‘Rah rah rah rah’, and throws in a high pitched scream for good measure. The parrots screech. Yes, they are indeed speaking baby. It’s an unfamiliar regional dialect, but The Baby gets the gist. She feels they can muddle through. She squeals and hollers, ‘Ba baaaaaa!’ The parrots squawk. The Baby laughs. The parrots told a funny joke. The parrots are very loud. The Baby is unfazed. The Baby is very loud. The parrots and The Baby are getting on like a house on fire. The parrots shriek all the sounds they know. The Baby quite agrees. She bellows all the sounds she knows.

It is time to move on to the giant tortoises. The Baby screeches a cheerful goodbye to the parrots. She is in her element. People – albeit slightly odd-looking, beaky ones – are speaking her language for once. She turns her attention to the nearest tortoise. ‘Ba ba ba. Aaaah ra ra. Goober. Abear?’ The tortoise stares at her. It says nothing. The Baby’s smile fades. Here we go again. The tortoise is rude.