For a long time now there’s been a belief that babies and toddlers understand a lot more than they let on. The author of What Babies Say Before They Can Talk believes that part of our job as parents is to translate our child’s words. When they say “no,” for example, they are expressing “distress-to-anguish.” Similarly, “gimme, gimme” means “interest-to-excitement.” The author, Dr. Paul C. Holinger, who also blogs for Psychology Today, gives the following advice for dealing with toddlers: “figure out and name the feelings behind her words.”
This all makes me wonder if my 15-month-old daughter and I are functioning on a lesser emotional level than other mothers and daughters. When Mika is saying “Kra-kra” I usually know what she means: she wants a damn cracker. And preferably the orange kind shaped like a bunny. And when she says “Ei! Ei!” she wants a scrambled egg and as best I can tell is using the German word to express it. Her use of words is mostly limited to nouns in the food family. Hmmm….I wonder whose daughter she is?
The main exception to the food rule is for the word “baby.” She likes to point out other babies everywhere she goes. And then the other night, she learned how to use it best. She woke up at what can only be described as an ungodly hour. First, she cried. I ignored it. Then she called for mama. Still, I ignored it. And when all else failed, she simply cried, “baby!”
And in I went running.
No translation needed.