You are Me as We are All Together

Posted by on Feb 23, 2011 | 3 comments

You are Me as We are All Together

There is an evolution of language acquisition.  Children learn the parts of speech in fits and starts, usually in the same order as other kids.  So what happens when your child simply doesn’t speak before age two or three, and has to be taught everything, rather than pick it up themselves naturally?  Curious things, I tell you.  Curious things.

As I’ve mentioned before, Jack had only about four words by age two (although looking back at video I can make out a few more that we didn’t pick up on at the time).  Due in large part to the awesome Miss Amanda, speech therapist extraordinaire, he began speaking in earnest not long after his therapy started.

Unlike Jack’s siblings, he had no “baby talk.”  He skipped that part and went straight for the gold.  He had his cute mispronunciations, of course.  One of our all-time favourites is “helicopter,” spoken like a tiny Frenchman as “ell-ee-oh-cop-tayr.”  For the most part, though, he simply picked up what Amanda was putting down, and went with it.

As a self-proclaimed word geek, I loved seeing Jack’s language unfold.  I had always dreamed of having conversations with my child, as every mama does, and for the first time it was happening.   And it was happening in a completely unique way.

Lots of small children confuse proper pronouns and genders and tenses.  English is an extremely difficult language, even if it is your native tongue.  Jack is no exception, although he had to learn the difference in genders through play.  Everyone was a boy for a very long time.  In fact, it was only recently that his favourite train Julia became the girl she was meant to be.

One of the hardest concepts Jack dealt with was with proper pronouns.  He referred to himself as “you” for quite some time, much to the confusion of others.  Having a conversation with him was a convoluted affair, trying to figure out which “you” he meant when.

Jack: “You’re going for a walk.”

Me: “No, *you’re* going for a walk.”

Jack, exasperated: “Yes.  You’re going for a walk.”

You see where this is going.

As he learned, he started putting his own spin on things.  He worked out who exactly “you” was in proper context, and eventually stopped calling women “him.”  He even started naming toys and playthings.

This summer we scored a couple of big car hauler trucks at some rummage sales, and adding in the two smaller ones we had at home, Jack created a car hauler family.  He named them Mom, Dad, and Baby (both of the small ones were named Baby).  Several times I have run from one end of the house to the other after hearing a frantic “Moooommmm!!!” only to find an infant truck in search of its mother.  Repeated pleas to change their names have fallen on deaf ears.

Most of the quirks in Jack’s speech are gone now, as he’s five-and-a-half (what?!?) and on to learning French.  Now he’s mixing both languages as he’s learning, and it’s hard to recall the days when he barely spoke at all.  It’s not something I ever want to forget.

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  • M

    I love you peeps. I really cannot wait for you to get down here so we can have a grand ol’ time.

    Liam and I just had a mini lesson reminder that we don’t have dinner at 7a but BREAKFAST. Thankfully he now finds this kind of stuff hilarious instead of frustrating.

    The other day I got furious at my kids for fighting then nearly wrecked the car smiling with joy because man alive my kids were FIGHTING with words and anger and expressing irritation and yelling for me to interrupt. it was incredible.

    I will never forget the days of no words. The days of no communication (a very differetn beast and almost more frightening than no words!) The worries of never. Liam still has a ways to go with his speech but the amazing improvement (from a 9m language at 2 years and not much better at 3) to 4y2m at 5y3m? I’m pretty freaking stoked.

    and as usual i took over your comments. I love relating to you and that you GET IT because so many people in the community have either forgotten, are not there yet, or don’t get why I still hold so tight with joy at such things.

  • Anna Springer

    Good for Jack! Don’t be surprised if some of the gender/pronoun confusion reappears when he is under stress — Our Joe is six and a half now and we thought that was behind us, but when he is learning a lot of new things at school or feels overwhelmed in a new situation it reappears briefly. What a great reminder to never take language for granted and of how far we have come on our journey!

  • “an infant truck in search for his mother”. That’s funny!. Cute, but funny.