Monday, June 06, 2005

Lost in Translation

Toddlers should come with Toddler-to-English dictionaries. The Hobbit's recognizable words at this point are "hi," "mama," and "da." She hardly ever actually says "mama", and "da" can mean anything from "daddy" to "what is that?" to "now I'm going to throw my cup on the floor and there's nothing anyone can do to stop me." Despite the multiple meanings, we can usually decipher these messages. Once the cup is on the floor, I have a pretty good idea what that particular "da" meant.
Others, however, are not nearly so clear. This weekend, she started saying "duck." I didn't teach her this word, and she never says it in reference to any ducks that I can see. Possibly she has some imaginary mallard pals? If so, there must be an awful lot of them, because "duck" has almost replaced "hi" as the word of the hour. Either way, I can feel really good, I think, about the fact that my daughter thinks it's so much more important to be able to name aquatic birds than to be able to call my name. Sob.
The Hobbit definitely does exercise a fair amount of caution in the words that she chooses to learn. Since "hi" has turned out to be so popular, we thought she might be interested in learning to say "bye-bye." Nope, nothing doing. She will sometimes wave bye-bye, but that's it. I was talking to a friend of mine this weekend; she is the mother of a little boy who's about 9 months older than the Hobbit. Her son is exactly the opposite, in that he is very eager to dismiss people, but hates to greet them.
I think she should try to teach him my grandfather's favorite phrase, "Here's your hat, what's your hurry?" Which, as I'm consulting my Toddler-translator, is rendered something like, "ha-duck!"

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