The Gift Of Words

By-passing the baby-talk with our son has lead to conversational bliss

My 21-month old son is quite the talker. He tries so often to repeat what he hears in his small voice, ironing out the kinks in his lips and tongue as he tries to match diction. Of course there is much amusement in his little chatter. When he disobeys we give him the option of choosing a consequence or obedience. When pondering his options, he pauses and says conn-suh-keence…? It is SO fun to see his words and sentences forming.

Many times I have been surprised by the words he says that I have not “taught him.” While looking at a book recently he pointed to an apple and said the word “apple” so well that my jaw dropped. We never talk about apples. Neither he nor I enjoy them, so they are hardly ever a topic in our home. But somewhere, someone showed him what an apple was, and that word and picture association stuck, and behold, my son recognizes “apple."

I see his little mind processing through not only what I said, but also how I said it.

As I watch his observation of my lips as I speak to him, or anyone really, I am beginning to see the weight of my words. Especially when I am correcting him, or bringing discipline. I see his little mind processing through not only what I said, but also how I said it. It is truly a wonder this process of their comprehension happening right before our eyes!

On one of his first doctors appointments I remember so well as our kindly pediatrician looked at me and said “they catch on to more than you know.” That was profound to me. I decided that at that moment I would assume that my son knew everything I was talking about and to not baby talk to him. It was with this idea in mind that formed the way my husband and I speak with our son.

Article Continues Below Advertisement

We began to see that one of the greatest gifts we could give our children is the gift of helping them learn to communicate their needs and wants affectively. We do that by using adult language, i.e. we would call his bottle a “bottle” and not a ba-ba.  His blanket was “blanket” and so on. Our son has had a language all his own since he could first utter sounds, and I used to tease that when he would talk with me, he was saying whatever I wanted him to say and I would respond accordingly. i.e “Why, yes son, I am the best mom for you.” Or “thanks for saying how much you enjoy eating your vegetables, ” and “oh yes, I am so glad that you think nap-time is a good idea!” Our conversations were quite agreeable.

His word for vitamin was bot-bot for months.

Over time his language began to fine tune itself and I noticed him inserting English words into his gibberish. Of course there were still some gibberish words that I thought would never morph into English. His word for vitamin was bot-bot for months. But even with that, help came at the right time to coach him through transitioning to vitamin. There is a gal in our community who has seven children (one of which has a speaking impediment) and when talking with her about the "bot-bot" problem, she encouraged me that even though he says his word, always repeat back to him the correct word.

Sure enough, over time I have watched bot-bot transform into batta-meen. And it has been like that with many words, they have slowly over time evolved into the intelligible. It is pretty exciting!

I am not sharing this because I am so very proud that my son has an extensive vocabulary, because that is not the end goal. I am sharing because we get to see the joy on people’s faces, as they understand him. And he in turn is delighted that he is understood. My little son, can hold a conversation with just about anyone, with understanding on both side.

Article Continues Below Advertisement

Rudyard Kipling said, “Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.” It is invigorating to give the gift of words to a child and watch those words come full circle when the child uses them in their proper context and the ability to relate to the world around them. Kipling was right.

Although, I will say, that I sometimes miss those conversations when my son was going on and on about how great of a mom I am (with me interpreting of course.) The replacement conversation about motorcycles, lawn mowers and bugs is not quite as pampering. Ah, the life of a boy-mom.

Lena Vogelgesang

Lena Vogelgesang

Lena likes to define herself by the Seven C’s: Christ, Chris, Children, Comrades, Coffee, Cheese, & Cardio. Due to her love of coffee and cheese, she must also have a relationship with increasing her heart rate. The Lord has given her a wonderful husband in Chris and they have two young boys.

Facebook Comments