Friday, October 21, 2005

It's Tough to be Two

Zach has a toy. Harry wants it. Harry approaches Zach to negotiate - a vast improvement over the snatch-and-grab tactic of two days ago! (Keeping my fingers crossed, I am.) Zach doesn't want to share it yet, reasonably enough, since he's only just started playing with it. He protests non-verbally, whimpering and moving the toy to his other hand, but Harry persists. Very verbal Harry projects a wall of words at Zach, over-riding Zach's mute resistance. Harry asks and asks again, explains and cajoles. Words, words, words, flow at, over, and around little Zach. His frustration rises. He moves further from Harry, holds the toy over his head and away, whines, then shrieks. I intervene, and begin the process of helping them sort through this. Harry is told to "listen to" Zach, that he's allowed to say "not yet"; Zach is told to "use his words". Poor wee Zach. I imagine that I'm learning a foreign language. I'm at the point where I have the rudiments, though my grammar is shakey. I can get by in functional, straight-forward situations. But I have no real fluency yet. I certainly can't speak convincingly, much less debate, especially when stressed and pressed by a persistent native speaker. Such is the position of the two-year-old. The language is new, and it's tricky. Words are slippery. You can't find the ones you need, or you don't know how to fit them to this situation, or you don't have them at all - it's enough to make you wanna bite someone!! To make matters worse, along comes some adult telling you sweetly to "Use your words!" ARGH!!! It's frustrating. Of course, "Use your words" is the only useful response. A language is learned, whether at 2 or 62, only by constant practice. So the adult kneels down, puts an arm round the child, and walks them through it, in simple words and short sentences, feeding them vocabulary, showing them which words fit, and how they're used. But still, it's tough to be two.


Blogger Simon Peter said...

Good observation. Of course, even when they do use their words, we adults don't always understand their interesting pronounciations!

Princess number two uses the "t" sound for a few different letters, especially "s" and "f". This can get a little confusing at times. Amusingly, princess number one actually understands her the best at this time.

10/21/2005 10:49:00 a.m.  
Blogger Juggling Mother said...

And then, when they reach 3, and learn "why" we are constantly telling them to be quiet "just for a second":-)

10/21/2005 11:32:00 a.m.  
Blogger Mary P. said...

Simon: Too true. T, S, F, W, and L are common pronounciation stinkers, with kids exchanging various other sounds for them. George can manage T on its own, but as part of a blend, it's beyond him. Thus "train" comes out "swain", only with his pronounciation, it sounds more like "swing". Very confusing for the uninitiated!

MrsA: LOL Absolutely right! They just can't win, can they?

10/22/2005 12:47:00 p.m.  
Blogger LoryKC said...

Frustrating, indeed, for everyone!

Mrs. A--yes! I used to be worried because it seemed that it was taking too long for my son to start talking. My father reminded me, "as soon as he does start talking, you'll spend the rest of his childhood asking him to be quiet!"
Of course, there was nothing wrong with him. His sister was just doing his talking for him!!

10/22/2005 02:22:00 p.m.  
Blogger Mary P. said...

Lory: My youngest cousin (still in his teens, with me in my forties), was the youngest boy of four. Boys. His parents actually had him to a speech pathologist because his speech was so delayed. Pathologist told them, "Nothing wrong with this boy. You're just too helpful: all he has to do is point and grunt, and he gets what he wants without speaking." Mom and dad spoke to older three brothers, everyone played dumb to point-and-grunt tactic, and within three months the boy (age 4) was speaking not just in sentences but in paragraphs!

10/22/2005 08:03:00 p.m.  

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