After changing a diaper in the dark, like a soldier assembling his rifle blindfolded, I held my little boy close to me in my arms and carried him upstairs to give him a bottle to sooth him back to sleep. He was in a half-awake, half-asleep state, which is a very delicate place to be, because it means things could go either way. The other night I sat up with him while he squealed with delight at being awake and playing with the couch pillows at 1:00 in the morning. Tonight, I had a good feeling he would fall back asleep.
“You went poo poo…” I whispered to him gently.
“ba ba” he replied.
That’s when it hit me. I have learned this new language, just a half step above caveman speak, where almost all words and phrases are broken down into two repeating syllables.
I also know another language, ‘Repeat’ mode. Where I must validate everything my 3 year old daughter says.
“Look daddy, an airplane. See the airplane. It’s an airplane”
“Yes, Ella. You’re right it is an airplane”
“Tall airplane. It’s tall. It’s not little. See daddy, it’s tall”
“Oh, a tall airplane. Yes I see. You mean big.”
“Ella make it go in circles. Watch daddy. It goes in a circle!”
“Great job, it is going in a circle. Very good!”
Then I have to switch to the language adults speak when talking to my wife. This way we can both keep our sanity. That’s three languages, and I’m only at the toddler stage. I’m reminded of a Zits comic that showed a Teen translator button. Insert whatever phrase your teen is saying and it translates it for you to either, “feed me, fund me, or leave me alone.” So I can’t imagine just how many languages I will need to learn between now and then.
We all know it’s easy to get these languages confused. Who hasn’t slipped up at a family get-together and asked someone to hand you a ‘ba ba’ instead of saying bottle. Or telling someone you need to go ‘potty’ instead of use the restroom.
Yes, this is what I think about when I’m rocking my son back to sleep. He did go to sleep without any more fuss. And now I think it’s time for me to go nite nite, too.