Lately, I’m finding my toddler’s constant chatterings to be completely distracting. I used to be able to just tune her out, keeping one ear perked for anything of significance or imminent danger. But either I’ve lost that skill, much as I’ve lost the ability to complete a sentence when speaking to an adult, or something else has changed. I was determined to figure it out so I devised a “toddler talk” experiment. During a recent lunch with my three-and-a-half-year-old, I took notes of our “conversation,” interspersed with eating, chewing and drinking. Six minutes in, I had my answer. See transcript below:
Mom, is Rocket [baby brother] going to walk with me again? I was holding his hand. Mom, what is this color? Green or yellow? (It’s blue.) Chipmunks! (Chipmunks?) Yeah! Chip and Dale! Mom, can I have some more orange? (Later.) Mom, can I have a vitamin? (You already had one at breakfast.) I want another one. (Later.) Is this for the babies? (No, they’re yours.) Mom, why do you have my bow in your hair? No babies are here right now. (I remove bow.) I want to go to Lana’s house. Are we going to Lana’s house right now, Mom? (No.) What are we going to do? (We need to mail some cards.) Who are they for? (Aunt Allison and Aunt Robin.) Aunt Allison and Aunt Robin? Aunt Allison and Aunt Robin, I said, Mom? (Yes.) Okay. Mom, what else, Mom? Me want to go to the playground. (We can’t, it’s wet.) Why is it wet, Mom? (It’s raining.) Can I have some figs? I like figs. Can I eat all the figs, Mom? (No, you can have one.) Then I eat all of them. What is this? (It’s part of the fig.) We eat this, Mom? (Yes.) I will eat this, then this. Pull my sleeves up. Like this. Mommy, look at this! [Eats fig] I want some soy milk, Mom. Can I have some more figs? (No.) I need some on my sandwich. Mom, my sandwich is falling apart [takes it apart]. I like this. I’m going to do this [continues dismantling sandwich]. Look at this, Mommy! [Takes a bite.] I’m full now! It’s a little bit sour. The cheese is getting a little outside, like the airplane. You see, Mom? Like an airplane. (Speechless) Mom, can I pet Saif-o’s kitties? He has two kitties. Can I pet them, Mom? (Did he bring them to school?) Yes. No. Can I pet them? Mommy, look down here! A dinosaur! (A dinosaur?) No, up here! Water please. [Fills cup] I have a lot, Mom. See, Mom? Now I have to go pee pee. I drink all the water. My tummy’s full. I need to go wash my hands. I have to pee pee, too, Mom.
Apparently, with careful observation, she figured out that to break through the tune-out-toddler shield all she needed was a deluge of “Mom” drops. Drat, the clever toddler wins again! Must devise new shield (with option for triple strength).