Once upon a time Mom mentioned that she liked my brother and I more once we got a bit older. I.e. neither of us had been “easy” babies, health- or personality-wise, and so once we got to be a little more self-sufficient and interactive, it was easier to enjoy our company.

(One thing I love about Mom is that she’s honest about things like that in a way many parents aren’t.)

I’m starting to understand what Mom meant first hand these days. My niece has reached 18 months of age, has long mastered the walking and running and climbing, and is now rapidly expanding her repertoire of speaking skills.

Certainly, much of it is toddler gibberish, which I can’t parse for the life of me, but which I nonetheless find fascinating because I can tell she’s talking about things and explaining things and making conversation, even if I don’t know what it is. Though I just know other toddlers would be able to understand her.

But her intelligible conversation continues to grow by leaps and bounds. My sister-in-law notes that Cadence adds multiple new words to her vocabulary pretty much daily, and she’s constantly asking, “Wha dat?” We spent a good chunk of the evening on Monday going through her books and picture cards with either myself or Grandma identifying everything from “umbrella” (which she can say with surprising clarity) to “yellow”. (Two-word sentences are about as fancy as she gets at this point.)

It’s fascinating to observe and participate in her learning, and what she knows and how she speaks seems pretty normal to me for someone her age, given what I know about toddlers (which is, admittedly, next to nothing).

But then Mom (my Mom, her Grandma) made an observation about her in relation to me, which I’d heard many times before, but which now had actual real-life context for me. She mentioned how engaged Cadence seems to be, and how fast she learns, but then noted that at the same age I wasn’t using “toddler-speak” anymore, but spoke in complete, multi-word, polysyllabic sentences. Which, frankly, weirds me out.

Imagining adult-style conversation coming out of my niece’s mouth is just… bizarre to contemplate. But I’d never thought anything of it til now, since I didn’t connect myself or concrete stages of development to Mom’s 30+ year-old anecdotes until I had a close point of comparison. Before it was just abstract, and a number of my friends have similar stories of precociousness, so not really worth pondering, y’know?

But on Monday night, I thought back to the recording my parents have of my brother and I reciting our ABCs, and imagined that voice (and the substitution of “B” for a couple letters that escaped my recollection) coming from my niece as we hung out on the couch looking at books. And it just seemed really weird for someone that little to potentially be able to converse at that level.

I suppose you wouldn’t notice it as directly, having been present for the child’s development from day one, but can you imagine how strange it would be the first time your toddler busted out the multi-word sentences? “Indubitably, mother, I would prefer the boiled carrots to the pureed beets for this evening’s repast…”

I should check on when I was potty trained, because it seems like it would have been an even greater disconnect to have that command of language while still pooping my pants. 🙂

3 Comments on A little less conversation? I think not.

  1. From watching the wild variation in kids at M's daycare, I figure there are three main areas kids work on: verbal, gross motor and fine motor. They're usually much further ahead in one of those three than the other two.

    M was verbal and I agree, it was hilarious. I taught her 16-month-old self to say “No no Daddy, you missed a spot” when D was mowing the lawn and stuff. She learned “I want it all and I want it now” on her own, though.

  2. This is quite interesting, just keep posts like this one coming, I am totally impressed with your work, have just started following your feeds!

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