Dad for Beginners

Amateurism at its best

Toddler Language


My son has finally begun to make the transition from tiny parrot into petite human. His relative size and strength, however, are not what’s causing this transformation, it is the ability to acquire language and retain it. He is no longer squawking aimlessly, he’s legitimately talking. For the past 18 months, the sounds being emitted from my son’s face were exclusively gibberish and always incomprehensible. However, he’s reached a point in his development where coherent words are audible and even the occasional broken sentence slithers out. It was an exciting moment for exactly 17 seconds…before I realized that the talking never stops…ever.

Being a parent to a toddler is a lot like being married. At first, every new event and occurrence is exciting. But as time wanes on, those very same scenarios that once upon a time had you blushing with glee, will have you trying to scratch out your own eyeballs. Toddler talking is one of these events. It is absolutely adorable the first time a toddler strings together a semi-acceptable sentence that actually makes sense. However, the initial joy fades rapidly, particularly when your child is standing at your knees, asking about the structural integrity of the shower curtain while you’re trying to move your morning bowels. There is nothing more distracting than toddler babbling during a morning poop.

A toddler’s ability to retain linguistic material is uncanny. Often times, hearing a word or expression only once is enough to retain it and use it properly at a later time. Understanding this truth is especially critical for the vulgar and borderline inappropriate adult. As adults, we’ve become so accustomed to routinely using similar language, that often we forget the degree of acceptability in our daily vernacular. Recently I came to the realization that “Watch it, fuck face” is my favorite and most commonly used expression whilst driving. However, since that moment of recognition, I’ve adjusted my behind-the-wheel lexicon to include more appropriate phrases like “move bitch” and “what a d-bag.” Parenting is all about being a role model.

Once you realize the ease at which toddlers acquire new language skills, it becomes fun to use everyday life to help them continue to master new words. A toddler will take a seemingly innocuous sentence and turn it into a learning moment. The ease and ability with which they develop new linguistic abilities is simply astonishing. With that in mind, I’ve taken charge of my son’s verbiage and begun teaching him some key phrases for social success. Things like “true dat” and “pass the gravy.” After all, one cannot cruise through life on good looks alone.

Which each passing day, a new word or series of words continually reminds me that this tiny creature is always listening. Always. Being the aforementioned excellent role model that I am, remembering to treat each and every moment as a learning moment is crucial to my son’s vocal success. The most dangerous thought that can cross a parent’s mind is the belief that your toddler won’t remember or understand something. They are always listening. Watching. Even when you’re just trying to pinch one off after your morning coffee.

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