I have been logging my son’s language development and studying it with great interest ever since he started speaking. However, it occurred to me recently that his speech is more than just an amusing reflection of how we, his parents and grandparents, talk: what he chooses to talk about reflects his social and emotional development as well. This is the first of two posts in which I study his language to find out what is occupying the Toddler’s brain at the moment.
One of his current preoccupations is with the location of people and things. He spends half the day trying to establish where things are. In the morning I am greeted with: “Ahhh Mummy! Back!” I was gone, but I have returned, and he is pleased. Once out of bed he starts suggesting toys that might come with us (“mee”, in Dutch).
“Mama, Teddy mee? Mickey mee? Cars mee?”
As I am usually half asleep still, I agree to whatever he suggests, and he heads for the stairs with his arms full of cuddly toys. The cars go in the pockets of my dressing gown. On the landing, he will start to establish where everyone else is: is Daddy downstairs? Is the baby awake? Is the baby coming downstairs with us?
These questions are obviously based on what he considers to be reasonable expectations, as they are slightly different after his nap. When he exits his room after his lunch time sleep, he will want to know whether Gran is downstairs, and perhaps Opa and Oma. When I explain that they are all in their own houses, he hopefully suggests that maybe Teddy can come to Gran’s with him and Daddy. Again, I have to burst his bubble: he is not going to Gran’s with Daddy, but to the supermarket with me and the baby.
“Teddy mee supermarket?” Yes, okay, Teddy can come to the supermarket.
While he plays, location is also all important. “Oh no! Where grapes gone? Ah, anotis [=there it is].” Or: “Ofant [elephant] hiding! Hide-n-seek!”
The location of his favourite people is also a matter of constant concern. If one of us leaves the room for even just a few moments, to go to the toilet for instance, the Toddler will say a formal goodbye. When you return, you are greeted with a joyful “hello [insert name]! Back!” If he does not agree to you leaving the room, he will follow you and say: “Come back here!” Today he was getting fed up with me trying to leave the Duplo to go and wash up, so he grabbed my legs and said very decidedly: “Mummy not zis way anymore.”
So what do I think I can tell from this about his emotional development? He seems to be coming to terms with the fact that the people and toys he loves are not always with him. I get the feeling that he disapproves of this situation in general, but that he is willing to put up with it for short periods of time, as long as you come back.