I think children’s language development is fascinating. More than that, when little people start talking and expressing themselves and playing with words they don’t understand, it is just downright cute as hell. And the mispronunciations are beautiful. Maple’s desire to communicate has been a huge priority for her from very early on and her desperation to talk and to sing and to latch onto language has not waned. She is a parrot and absorbs more than we care to think. When we arrived in Australia she was 22 months old. Her language was going through the roof and suddenly, just as she was chat-chat-chatting about everything and anything at a million miles an hour and loving every minute of it… she developed a stutter. It wasn’t just a slight stutter. It was staggering and it throttled her and she visibly became upset by it. I googled and read up about it and discovered that it was pretty common. Various sources advised us to just calmly let her finish her sentences and to behave as though nothing was unusual. And so we did, but when her little face crumpled with distress when the stutter literally muted her, we helped out gently without alarming her in any way. Fortunately, the stutter just disappeared within a few weeks and now is just a strange memory.
Thus far, she still speaks with a gorgeous wee English accent. But we have now been in Melbourne for one year and we can hear the Aussie twang entering into her repertoire. Actually it seems that sometimes she performs a parody of the accent to entertain us and loves to mimic the women who look after her at childcare. So Ozzie and I have tried to record, when we remember to, some of the things she has said over the past nearly year (between two years old and almost three (about six weeks away)) which have become entrenched in her daily dialogue and monologue or which were fleeting flurries of fanciful footnotes…well not footnotes but I’m trying to find an alliteration in a hurry and it will do.
Firstly, Maple always asks for songs before bedtime, during the day and evening. She gets to choose the song titles and Ozzie and I oblige by making up the songs. Here are some of them:
Penguins are nipping me song
Grand Wi (her Australian grandmother) is singing me a song song
Teddy is roaring at me song
Teddy isn’t roaring at me song
Bring your foot near to me song
This chair bit here song (pointing at the arm of the chair)
The p, q, r, song
The leopard song
You are poking me in the eyes song. ‘I’m sorry Maple, who is poking you in the eyes?’ ‘You are!’
Lily Long Legs (her ragdoll) is looking at me song
Mountain Goat Song
Parasols are falling down from the trees song
Other Shapes Song
Oh you really ought to be a fly on the wall during the singing of these tunes.
“Here he is!” When her daddy walks into the room.
“Nearly home darling” as we approach home.
Cuddle fish instead of cuttlefish.
Mae what are you doing? “Having a baby.”
Mummy; “Good on ya daddy.”
Maple; “Good onion daddy!”
Daddy: “Looking good Maple!”
Maple: “Feeling good daddy!”
(This was slightly engineered!!)
Shouting “I need a gin and tonic!” over and over again while throwing a tantrum about leaving the library. We cried with laughter while absolutely everybody stopped what they were doing and watched us leave with Maple kicking and screaming in her daddy’s arms “I need a gin and tonic, i need a gin and tonic…”. This was after living with my parents for three months when we arrived in Australia. My parents religiously have a gin and tonic at 6pm every day and mum will say “Peter darling, I need a gin and tonic please.” Perfect.
“Mummy duck is off to pilates. Go away little ducks you silly buggers.” That was just as she turned two and we obviously learned a lesson here. Don’t let her spend time with her grandfather!! Ooops.
“I love you mummy. You’re so cute in your pretty jumper.”
“Bye bye my little lions” to some little girls she was playing with in the playground.
“Come on my little boy piggy” to daddy and her Australian grandfather.
“I want to snuggle (pronounced hnuggle) with my little precious mummy.”
Baby gino instead of baby Jesus. (There has been no religious education. She just found a Christmas book amongst some kid books at my parents’ place.)
Seagirls instead of seagulls. She has started to correct this unfortunately.
Sitting in the back of the car; “Mummy, the economy’s booming!”
“Mummy, lions eat cucumbers.”
“Mummy what do koalas eat?” “They eat leaves darling.” “No mummy, koalas eat cauliflowers I fink.”
“Dumbleday” is just a word she discovered and coined and has made her own. It comes up in her stream-of-consciousness monologues.
Her grandmother says; “Look at what the magpie has left for you Mae” handing her a feather. “Oh Grand Wi, that magpie is so generous!”
“Frikkin flies.” (oh dear…)
She uses the word “consequences” but doesn’t understand its meaning.
“Can you take my clothes off and can I wear your shoes?”
“May I, can I, please may I wear a different dress?”
“This one is my favourite (pronounced fwavwite).”
“Pink is my fwavwite colour isn’t it mummy?”
While looking at a reindeer; “Does he live in the rain?”
While driving home from the supermarket with her daddy, Maple turned to him and said ‘Daddy, welcome to your life.’ See my post Welcome To Your Life Daddy
Her daddy asked; “Maple, do you want to play hide and seek with me?” She replied; “No, sorry, I’m busy!” and snootily walked off clutching her teddies.
Maple in the back of the car ‘reading’ Mrs Pepperpot: “Mrs Peppermint Pot ate a monkey tree in spite of herself because it was very good for her. It was a bit musty and a bit bitsy but she took it to Bodley bay cos the trees were in bud” (taken from various book sources which she Maple-ised rather than plagarised). Then looking out the window; “oooh mummy look at all the pylons.” “Yes Maple, where do you think they’re going?” “They’re going to a pylon birthday party mummy and they’re taking cake and candles and balloons…(pause)…aren’t they?” “Yes darling, they are.”
Sitting in her highchair eating lunch, she suddenly turned to me, gesticulating in my direction with a very strong finger; “You must leave now before my husband gets home!”
“You must leave now before my husband gets home. NOW!!!”
And then quietly carried on eating.
I was completely taken aback by this. Where would she learn this? Certainly not from me, not from my mum and I seriously doubted from childcare. So where? Several people I told, suggested that she was an old soul. But didn’t that just make her an adulterous wench in a past life? I didn’t like this theory much. Months later, I sat down to read to her before bedtime. She produced Jack and the Beanstalk for the first time in a very long time. The giant’s wife (obviously a battered housewife and terrified of her bloke) says to Jack, “You must leave now before my husband gets home.” Mystery solved!
Asking for a burglar instead of a burger
Maple, what language do you speak? “I speak English – not Hamish.”
Maple is into playing Connect 4 and calls it Internet 4.
“I want to wear my ballet shoes.”
“Let’s do some ballet.”
“Mummy please sing the ballet song so I can do some ballet.”
“I love Angelina Ballerina. Mummy doesn’t but I do. That’s ok isn’t it?”
She had a doctors bag from the toy library. She walked in and said “Daddy, sit down let me see your tummy, excellent! In your belly button is an expedition. Now, let me draw a badger on your tummy.”
“Mummy I’m practicing my writing.”
“Really Maple? What are you writing?”
“I’m writing about August and December and helping you to understand.”
“Oh thank you Mae. I can’t wait to read it.”
“I will do some drawing mummy instead of distracting Zephy while you feed him.” This was a blow away sentence, not just because it was beautifully formed and used the word ‘distracting’ which made me do a triple take, but because normally she couldn’t give two hoots if she makes things difficult for me when feeding Zeph!
Mae fell over and scraped her knee. Oz scooped her up and said, ‘oh dear, where did you hurt yourself?’ and she looked at him like an idiot and said ‘on the pavement’.
Notorbike instead of motorbike.
She always uses the phrase “All sorts of fings…” referring to people, animals, colours, numbers…
“Mummy, do mummies drink wine?”
“Yes Maple, they do.”
“And daddies drink beards don’t they?”
“Yeehaa means fun doesn’t it daddy?”
“I love my baby boy (Zeph) soooo much. I love you soooo much mummy. I love you sooooo much daddy.”
“This is the best dress in the whole white world!”
Driving back from the countryside:
“Daddy, I want to see a kangaroo.”
“We won’t see a kangaroo now as we’re nearly in the city, kangaroos live in the country where Sam and Zoe live.”
Maple; “What’s the city?”
“The city is where people live and the country is where the animals live.”
Maple; “But Sam and Zoe aren’t animals.”
Driving along in the car: “Mummy, it seems that the trees are walking.”
“Eggalishus!” Maple’s exclamation at having boiled eggs for din.
And on it goes. Gawd I love her!! And I would love to hear some of your bambinos’ chin-wagging quirks.