Tuesday, May 11, 2010

o-we-o-s and black binkies

I love having tween and teen children. They are independent, clever, have interesting, thought-provoking questions and stories, and make some pretty good jokes. But sometimes, I wonder if we are still speaking the same language. A simple question is answered with a resounding, "I AM!" (when clearly they are not), a caveman shrug-and-grunt, or the oft-heard "GEEEEEZ!"

For the most part, I don't let this language phase bother me. I know it's just their age. But it does make me miss my little stinkers and their sweet baby-kid talk...

I actually can't remember when Abby first started to talk, although I know she was very young. I have a journal entry from when she was not yet 2 and had ridden the city bus with Dave. There had been a big thunder storm which she referred to as "raining noises." I also remember her naming the bunny she got for Easter that year. She named him "Bunny." When we pressed her for more, she just said, "Bunny." As the year went on, though, she added a first and a middle name, so that his full name was, and still is, "Funny Funny Bunny."

At 3, her command of the English language was quite good, except for a few problems with speech and schema. Two very frustrating experiences involved our own misunderstanding.

The first was when Dave took her to Dairy Queen where she asked him for an ice-cream cone. Simple enough. He got her the cone, but she burst into tears, refusing to eat it. Several cones later, we realized she actually wanted a sundae, with a cup and a spoon and chocolate sauce. When I explained this thing was called a sundae, she didn't believe me. A "Sunday" is the day you go to church.

The second experience also led to tears. We stopped at a gas station to fill up our car. Dave went in to get some drinks and while Abby and I waited, she told me we needed some "o-we-o." I thought she meant Oreos and told her no, but she kept repeating the request. By the time Dave got back, she was in tears. He asked what was wrong and (like all good Dads) went in and bought her some. But she wouldn't take them. She just kept saying the word, "o-we-o." When Dave took her into the gas station and asked her to show him what she wanted, she pointed to a bottle of oil. She thought the car needed oil and was crying because we couldn't understand her. Poor kid!

Max is the opposite of Abby in so many ways, and language was no different. He spoke only the most rudimentary words until he was well over 2 and even those were simplified; A-da for Abby, Da-Da for Daddy, Ma for Mama, etc. The few things he learned to say clearly early on were all about cars. He loved cars. When he saw one he liked he would say, "Oh, wow!" He loved the Mazda car commercials too and recognized them on the road. Pointing, he would shout out, "Zoom Zoom!"

As he got older and used more words, he struggled with schema too. Once, while traveling, he woke up in the middle of the night, crying for a "binkie." Since he had never taken a pacifier, both Dave and I were confused. We offered him everything we could think of, but nothing worked. When we probed for more information, all he added was the color black. It didn't help. Finally, Dave drove him to the gas station. Max stopped crying, walked over to the Hostess rack and picked up a package of chocolate donuts. As far as we could tell, "binkie" was his word for "twinkie," which Abby always got. And whenever Abby got a twinkie, he got the chocolate donuts so, in his mind, they were "black binkies."

If only our communication problems were this sweet and simple now. I suppose we could still be having schema issues. Like lumping questions in with accusations. But it is heartening to look back and see how far we have come. In a few more years, I will, no doubt, look back on these teenage years and laugh, "Remember how cute it was when the kids would yell 'I know' after everything we told them? Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!"