I’ve concluded that the blossoming vocabulary of a young toddler is much like a double-edged sword. If you’re anything like me, you are a communicator. You love to talk. You are the gabbiest among gabby’s. Talking is your thing. You love language.
And so, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching as my daughter’s vocabulary expands on a daily basis. Somedays it seems she’ll add 4 new words to her repetoire before I even leave for work. Not only do I love learning which words she adds but I wonder why that particular word. Why does she say “meow” but not “cat,” for example? Is it the way the word sounds? Does she like the dramatic affect because it can’t possibly be that “meow” is easier to say than “cat.”
And so it is an adventure in vocabulary. A windy road with many diversions and no clear path, she’s on, this route to language fluency.
But there is the other side of it. See, along the way, I wonder, when she says “happy happy happy” over and over again, is it because she’s feeling happy in that particular moment? When she repeats my sister’s name, randomly, throughout dinner, is it because she’s thinking of my sister? Or is it because that word has entered her mind for whatever reason and so she says it?
For the good things, I’d like to think that is the reason. Surely she is exlaiming “happy” over and over and over again because that is how she’s feeling and she wants me to know it!
But what about when she repeats the nanny’s name, over and over and over again, as soon as the nanny leaves for the day, and I am home?
Is it because she wants the nanny to come back and doesn’t really care that I’m home?
Because believe you me, what happens it she shakes me to my core. She calls into question everything I tell myself to be true as I leave her every day to head into the office. As I assure myself that she couldn’t possibly be more attached to anyone but me, she couldn’t love anyone more than me – she shakes that belief and truism and turns it upside down, when she repeats nanny’s name over and over and over again.
As far as I’m concerned, I don’t want her even thinking about the nanny when I’m around. And trust me, the old “oh, you should be so happy to know that she’s in such great hands when you’re gone” argument – shove it on that one. That one ain’t working as any other working momma will tell you.
And so, I love her blossoming use of language. I really do. But is there any way I can limit it so that it doesn’t throw me into an insecure tailspin?
Or worse….push me the point of wanting to fire my beloved nanny? Because we all know, I’m always teetering on the edge of that precipice.
I think at the end of the day, we all know that parenthood is nothing if not a leap of faith. And the ongoing challenge with babies and toddlers is that they can’t tell us clearly what they are thinking. It’s a non-stop guessing game and you can only do your best.
So, before I do anything dramatic like quit my job and fire the nanny, I’m going to continue creating the reality that I want to live in.
When my daughter communicates emotions through language, it’s because she’s telling me she’s happy.
When she’s repeating the nanny’s name, it’s because she’s just figured out how to say it and so she is parading around her new skill through repetition.
When she says “mommy mommy mommy” or “daddy daddy daddy” – it is specifically because she is thinking of me or looking for one of us – not because she is so proud that she knows how to say that word.
If you like my reality, you’re welcome to join me.