The Language of Toddlers

As a mother of a toddler, I often feel like I am supposed to understand every word that my son utters.  He is only 22 months old, so those words are often half-words at best, and more often than not, I find myself completely baffled by what he is so vehemently trying to express.  Sure, he has moments of complete clarity – one day he’ll say out of the blue, “Mommy, I made a poopy”.  So incredibly cute and at the same time, so much information. Other times, he will babble on and on unintelligibly with some “real” words mixed in.  For example, he will say something like, “Babadola mommy….moodaloola car ride…gooboobaba playground”.  So you get the gist of what he is trying to say without really knowing what he is talking about.  And still other times his sentences will sound like complete gibberish, with no intelligible words mixed in.  But he will say this gibberish with so much passion and gusto that you know for sure he is trying to say something very specific.   But I’ll be damned if I know what that is.

Before I became a mother, I always assumed that all mothers must know exactly what their child is trying to say.  But I have come to realize that even a mother like myself, who spends most of her time with her son, still has no clue what her child is trying to say half the time.  This of course leads to major frustration on the part of the toddler, because they aren’t being understood.  So they start crying and carrying on because of this lack of understanding.  I just wish there was a translation guide for parents.  An Toddler to English dictionary, if you will.   And really the language of toddlers is more of a dialect than its own separate language – they are speaking English, after all.  Just a completely different form of it.  Ask any 5 year old to help, and I guarantee they can translate what your toddler is saying.  Because just three short years ago they were speaking the same dialect, and they know exactly what your toddler is trying to say.  So I’m hopeful that by the time my second child is learning to speak, my son will act as translator, and hopefully I will have a shot of understanding this unique way of speaking.

For now I just smile and nod, and wait for him to say something brilliant.  I like to think that in his long-winded, gibberish-filled rants that he is revealing the secrets of the universe…or maybe even a cure for cancer.  But until I can find myself a nearby 5 year old to borrow, I guess I’ll never know.


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