I was in the kitchen, cleaning up, and my oldest two were sitting in the dining room. “Mom,” my oldest says, “I’m using you as an example.”
“What do you mean?” I ask.
“Well, you posted on face book that your boys are scared that you will use them as examples on your blog. So I am going to post about you as an example….” He looks over at me with raised eyebrows. “Mommy…..I spit???”
And I crack up laughing.
His brother is worried. “You can’t do that! This is supposed to be a nice blog, helping people. You will make mom look bad!”
How many times, over the course of our mommihood, have we looked bad because of our kids? 😉 Oh let me count the ways…..
Language development is an amazing creature in children. Once they start talking, there really is no stopping them. By 18 months, most toddlers know and understand about 50 words. It is believed, according to Wikipedia, that most children add ten to twenty new words per week.
Even so, it is often still hard to know what your children are saying. Have you ever listened to a little kid talk, respond with “Oh…yeah….”, and then look over at mom for a translation? Those closest to the little tykes know and understand. The rest of us are lost.
Once children figure out words, and the correct way to pronounce them, they still have to learn the correct meaning of the word. This sometimes can lead to the most interesting of conversations. It is always good, as a parent, to ask your child to clarify if you suspect something is amiss during the conversation.
My three year old, who was two at the time, was absorbed in painting. He was having a great time, working on his masterpiece. Suddenly he throws his paintbrush in the cup of water, clearly frustrated. “What the Hell!”, he yells, hand on his hips.
I’m shocked. After telling him we don’t use that word, and explaining that only grown-ups can use that word because it is a grown-up word, I ask him if he even knows what “what the hell” means. He’s two. He’s just repeating what he hears around him. (No, not me! I honestly don’t swear. But if you know his father….. 😉 )
He looks me square in the eye, hands still on his hips. “Ya. It means I have too much yellow!” And he glares at his paint brush, which I now notice is saturated in yellow paint. What could I do? I laugh and admit defeat. He clearly understood what he was saying.
My oldest, however, had an incorrect use of the word “spit” that makes us laugh, to this day. It also makes me a very bad mommy.
He was three. I was, in my defense, raising a three year old, a very colicky infant, going to college, and working. I was a busy, exhausted momma. One night, he came in to my bedroom and woke me up. He told me, “Mommy, I spit.”
“What?” I ask, confused and in a fog.
“Oh. Well go back to bed.”
Being the good boy he was, he didn’t question or object. He simply did as he was told. Quietly. In the morning, I went to wake him. He was sleeping in a pile of his own vomit. It was everywhere. On the floor. On his bed. On his pillow. In his hair. And it was so very sour.
To this day, I still want to cry when I think about it. I sent my own child, who was not feeling well, back in to his own bed, to sleep in his own puke. Just the smell of his vomit surely made his tummy queasy and want to hurl again. All because I was too tired to ask what he meant when he said he “spit”.
It’s always good to ask.
Even when they are teenagers. One of my boys, new to junior high, came home from school one day and was casually talking with me. He used a word that is too vulgar to say here. I was shocked. My kids are so very respectful and do not talk like that. At least, not in front of me. Or their grandmothers. Or their aunts. Or anyone demanding respect. I have worked hard to raise them that way. So I proceed to chew him out for saying that nasty little word. And then I ask him what it means. And he admitted he really had no idea.
He was simply repeating what he heard the other guys say in the locker room.
And the embarrassing conversations start.
If my son is going to be hanging out with older boys and learning all these things that boys discuss amongst themselves in the locker rooms, then he sure as heck better know what things mean before he repeats and uses them in the wrong way, amongst his friends. Or endless teasing will follow. Dad wasn’t around, so I had to do the job. I discussed the word and told him what it meant. His face colored. Obviously, he was entirely embarrassed for saying something like that in front of his momma. 🙂
But it’s always good to ask…..