It’s Not All Mary Poppins

He’s Prescient, what can we say?

Just listening to Shelagh Rogers this morning (ah, the CBC – my window into the world of thinking adults while immersed in my world of toddlers, bodily fluids, squabbles, and glee), interviewing some members of a musical group from Newfoundland, and I was reminded of a story. Happened to a friend of mine last summer.

He had accompanied his girlfriend to her Cape Breton home. Cape Breton, where everyone is related to everyone else, and they all play or sing, or at the very least, drink hearty while listening to others play and sing.

Pete was at just such a party. As in most Cape Breton parties, someone pulled out a fiddle and someone else pulled out a flute, and as the beer went round, and round again, the music, singing, and dancing started. Peter is nothing like a shrinking violet. He’s having a great time, it’s 3:30 a.m., and these guys, hey, they’re just great.

When one of them stops for breath, Pete’s right there. “Hey, you guys are great!” he tells them. “You could be big!” His praise is met with a wry grin. He redoubles his encouragement. “No, no, I really mean it. Big! Really big!”

Someone taps his arm. “Ah, Pete?”


“Pete, that’s Great Big Sea.”

October 21, 2005 Posted by | random and odd | 7 Comments

It’s Tough to be Two

Zach has a toy. Arthur wants it. Arthur 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 Arthur persists. Very verbal Arthur projects a wall of words at Zach, over-riding Zach’s mute resistance. Arthur asks and asks again, explains and cajoles. Words, words, words, flow at, over, and around little Zach. His frustration rises. He moves further from Arthur , holds the toy over his head and away, whines, then shrieks. I intervene, and begin the process of helping them sort through this. Arthur 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!”


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.

October 21, 2005 Posted by | behavioural stuff, Developmental stuff, manners, parenting, socializing, Zach | 5 Comments