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.