Touch of Spice

The beauty of language, or not


I keep wondering whether 17-month-old baby Nikki is talking enough for her age.

I made the mistake of asking my husband what he thought.

According to him, I had the same concerns about Katie at about the same time.

That made me feel better. There's no question that Katie has a problem verbalizing her demands, a fact she makes clear in ways that make me thankful Nikki's verbal skills are still somewhat limited.

First there was the "no" problem. Well, it was more like "NO-OOO!"

She responded to every question with a negative response. She couldn't even get past that when she wanted to answer "yes," so she invented a new response: "No-kay."

That way she still gets what she wants without losing the defiance and power of the word "no."

You look forward to enhanced verbal skills, especially when your child is sick. Unlike the earlier days when they couldn't tell you where it hurt, now a whole new world opens and parents are actually able to fix the problem.

Except with Katie. She spent hours curled into a ball on my chest crying. We asked. Was it her head? "No!" Was it her tummy? "No!" Was it her butt? "No!"

We went through a lot of body parts and didn't just get no's, her tone reflected that if she had the vocabulary, it would've followed by a lot more not-so-positive words.

Evidence (I'm sure you don't want to hear what evidence) later indicated (much later) that it was her stomach. It was even a relatively easy fix. One "yes" would have saved a river of tears.

We've come 180 degrees since then. Now, she answers every question with "OK," even if she means "no."

That seems like it would be a blessing, but it's not.

"Katie, come here."

"OK," she says as she walks out of the room.

"Katie, pick that up."

"OK," she says as she walks out of the room.

"Katie, are you hungry?"

"OK," she says as she walks out of the room.

I have to say, it's a little frustrating and I desperately hope it's not an indication of conversations to come.

This is just a phase, right? Right?

So, for now I just make up my own meaning for her response (I fully expect to have to do that for years to come for my own peace of mind).

"Katie, pick that up."

"OK," which, when I translate it means, "That's a great idea, mom. I'll get right on it. By the way, I love you. You're the greatest mom ever."

So, I'm a little delusional. What parent isn't?

Katie's not old enough to understand those aren't really questions, they're just phrased that way to make parents feel they just gave their child a choice and their child chose correctly.

Never mind that choosing incorrectly usually results in a "that wasn't a request."

Sounded like it to me.

I have two options for the shower. Take Katie with me or freeze to death because I'm not allowed to close the door when she's on the other side.

We'll I couldn't very well leave Nikki out, could I? So they both ended up on the dry side of the door, which actually wasn't very dry because of the aforementioned door problem.

So, the result is I'm standing in the shower with the door wide open.

"Katie, please leave the door closed."


Wanna guess what happened next?

Children are a bundle of contradictions, some adorable and some not so adorable.

At dinner time, Katie gets her own plate and a spillproof glass of apple juice (spillproof my butt).

Evidently she's not hungry because two minutes later, she's sitting in the high chair wearing her plate on her head and stirring her apple juice into the food she's spread across her tray.

She didn't take one darn bite!

So, down she comes with an admonition that she's not getting any more food.

She so doesn't get it because she heads straight for me, parks herself on my lap and proceeds to eat a very good dinner. From my plate.

I don't understand.

So, for the time being we've agreed to disagree about the things each of us wants. And, at this time that goes in my favor.

I ask, she doesn't do it, so I demand.

Works for me.

As for Katie, we'll talk when she polishes her verbal skills a bit more. And based on what she's learned so far, I'm in no hurry.

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