I am about to date myself: Do you remember that scene in Airplane when the old lady volunteers as an interpreter for Jive? That pretty much sums up what it is like when having a conversation with the three-and-under set. You spend much of your conversation nodding your head encouragingly while racking your brain trying to figure out just what exactly your very earnest toddler is trying to communicate, and then it suddenly dawns on you and you understand! At least that’s how it works in Ideal World. Sadly, I don’t always live in Ideal World. Even when I don’t get it immediately, I usually do get the gist of it. Regardless, communication is always an adventure.
Our three year old has a very active imagination. He started telling us the things he imagined when he was almost two-and-a-half. It took me a few conversations before I realized that he was actually communicating his imaginings. A conversation once went like this: Three year old: “Momma! mumble, mumble Boy on cewing! (pointing to the corner of my room) mumble mumble “He’s fwying! He’s bwue!” Me: “Really? Wow…that’s interesting. Why do you thing he’s flying on the ceiling?” I was really worried that my kid was seeing demonic or angelic beings. It took a few times before I realized he was imagining them.
Another favorite past-time: killing the monsters in the yard. We have an old air hose nozzle and the remains of a broken paint gun. Those are the obvious tools for a monster hunter. Last summer he would come in the house, slam the door, plaster himself up against it, and then with obvious care, he would open the door and peek out again. Then he would dash back out and back in again. And then he would announce, “I kill ’em all, Momma!” “What did you kill?” “MONSTERS!” He is still at the monster killing–apparently the monsters need to killed every few days or so or they get too numerous. The nice thing about the monsters is that they are silent. At least something around here is. My boy sure isn’t. He makes noise. Constantly. As in ALL. THE. TIME. Wooo, wooo, woooo…..beep, beep!…..shhhh…..meows….neighs……barks. Sirens, screeches and animals play heavily in the sound bank, but so do sounds like space aliens and other weird noises. We are still learning the importance of the indoor voice.
Now that our boy is three, his imaginings are just as vivid and crazy; at least now he can articulate them better. Yesterday morning: “Momma! Swim….there’s sharks in the water! Momma, they’re gonna eat me! Swim faster, Momma! There’s a whale! ” We were in my bedroom at the time. The carpet used to be bwue…um, blue…and I suppose that provides lots of fodder for his active mind. My bed is usually the boat. The details are incredible–the color of the shark, the tail of the whale.
Having a three-year old boy is an adventure every moment. Even meal times are not exempt. Sometimes he will break forth with a huge, “SSSSHHHHHH……..” (and then whispering) “Wabbits.” He has seen Elmer Fudd maybe once in his life. The big highlight at dinner, though, is when it is his turn to say grace. No T.V. preacher has anything on our three year old. He doesn’t say much, but with his facial expressions, he doesn’t need to. Usually he squinches up his face and points his face to the ceiling. His little mouth exaggerates each movement of each syllable, so it almost looks like he is mooing or chewing cud while he is praying. Every once in a while, like tonight, he will stop to reprimand someone–tonight it was his six-year old sister because she let go of his hand during prayer time. Mommy or Daddy usually finish his prayers, often while trying desperately not to laugh. I usually still have an apron on at dinner on his night…and it is a good thing….an apron is handy for stifling the laugh. I need to learn to just stop looking–it’s just that when his prayer gets really quiet it is hard to know whether or not he is finished. Usually he’s not–he’s just in T.V. preacher mode.
His little brother is starting to talk in sentences, too. Of course he is in the cave-man stage of verbal communication. He sat next to a friend a few weeks ago and demanded some of what she had–a pineapple–by saying very clearly, ‘Me! Me!” We all knew what he wanted! We have a code word for nursing…”Neenee! Neenee!” He doesn’t use it as much anymore–not even every day, but when he remembers, we all know what he wants. He also has his standard vocabulary: milk, up, night, taller, doggie, kittie, Momma, Daddy, car, mine!, no!, cookie (anything round is a cookie–fried green tomato, okra, muffins, bracelet, and even cookies!), his sister’s names and more. Strangely absent from his vocabulary: please and thank-you. (Oops, looks like a training lapse on our part!) Of course a grunt is always a great way to communicate–and if you are a momma, daddy, or big sister skilled in toddler speak, a grunt can be interpreted any number of ways.
If you come to our house, be prepared to have have a conversation with a little person. You may need an interpreter, and trust me, they have LOTS to say. You may leave having been very entertained, or maybe you will be relieved just to leave. You may even have gained a new language. Whatever the case, at least you will be safe from the monsters!