21 December 2010, by Daphne Ling
There was a time when I was whining about how I got nobody to talk to all day because I’m stuck with 2 babies who communicate in a series of high-pitched shrieks in various frequencies. Then when I finally managed to crack the baby code to figure out about 80% of what they were saying, they had to go ahead and learn words. Like actual English words the Queen would approve of.
By the way, I am also trying to impart whatever little Mandarin I have to him these days. I started teaching Tru his Chinese name (which I have to admit I can’t write, and he’s so going to hate me when he has to take his Chinese exams and spend half that time writing his name) and he goes “Don’t like Kai Xuan, I’m Tru baby”.
But see, that’s just the thing, I’m enjoying talking to him way more than I expected to. I love that he knows exactly what he wants and he’s able to hold his own in a conversation. I used to think that I have to talk baby talk to kids because they’re not smart enough to understand what we’re saying but I’ve come to realize that they are that smart. Sometimes they don’t have the vocabulary to express themselves adequately yet but it’s not for a lack of understanding. Just a lack of words. For now. Because they pick up words faster than we can make up new ones and one day they’ll catch up. At some point, I’ll have to pretend to know some of the words he’ll use on me when we play Words With Friends but till that day comes, I’m going to hang on to my linguistic superiority.
Which brings me to all the fun I’ve been having talking to Tru. He’s at the age where he’s picking up phrases and learning how to use them in suitable contexts. He’s also still having difficulty with certain consonants so it sometimes comes out all wrong and I’m like “I get what you’re saying, kiddo, but you really need to work on that F sound because if you say that to some people when you grow up, they’ll punch you in the face.”
How about a few examples then.
1. You’re killing me.
Which is french for you’re kidding me. I say that to the husband when he tells me something incredulous and Tru has picked it up. Except that he’s changed it to you’re killing me, which may or may not be appropriate in some of the instances he uses it. I’m not saying.
2. Food for thought.
I’ve been teaching him the It’s Raining, It’s Pouring song every time it rains. So when he sees raindrops, he goes “It’s Raining THE PORRIDGE” with wild abandon. Maybe all that porridge is getting to his head. I’m thinking I should introduce fettuccine and ciabatta into his diet to see what else he comes up with.
3. Somebody, I don’t know who.
I sometimes refer to him in the third person like “Somebody’s hungry now” or “Somebody is going to get into trouble” to add that dramatic effect for emphasis. Now every time I yawn, he says “SOMEBODY is very tired”. That somebody is your mother, young man.