Let’s talk about feelings

This is the second instalment of my observations of the Toddler’s emotional development through his speech. He has started using more adjectives of late, such as ‘big’, ‘small’, ‘high’, ‘heavy’, ‘lovely’, ‘nice’ and various colours. Most recently, this has extended to adjectives that describe feelings.

He knows “happy”. At least, most of the time. “Baby happy, Mummy,” he will say, when she is screaming at the top of her lungs. I am not sure if this shows a lack of understanding of the word, or whether he is sketching the situation we need to arrive at. At other times he uses happy in the right context so this one always baffles me.

“Grumpy” is very amusing. When his will is thwarted, occasionally the offending parent will be rewarded by the Toddler theatrically stomping off into the next room, folding his arms – Teddy still clutched under one of them -, pulling a textbook cross-face and saying: “Grumpy!”

He can do angry as well, but in Dutch: ‘boos’, pronounced like ‘boast’ but without the ‘t’. On his Maisy Mouse floor puzzle there are many images of his favourite mouse, all of them smiling apart from one. In one corner, Maisy is wearing a pirate costume and a scowl (perhaps we should imagine her saying “Arrrrr matey”?). The Toddler points at this picture every time he makes the puzzle and explains: “Maisy boos”.

He also knows that Mummy gets cross. It is a little confronting to see how this defines for him when you should get angry and what that looks like. He has clearly been studying me, as any outbursts of anger from me at his misdemeanours are observed with keen but detached interest at the time and greeted with: “Mama boos.” Clearly, he does not feel this has anything much to do with him, nor does he see it as a reason to change his behaviour. More about that some other time… The other day I witnessed the outcome of his observations when he knocked over his little shopping basket with toy food. In a voice full of exasperation he said: “Mantit lond. Boos! Lond! Boos!” [Basket floor. Cross! Floor! Cross!]

Clearly, I get cross a lot about him throwing/dropping things on the floor.

I thought that was it for his current range of emotions, but this morning there was one more. The Toddler was making his sister’s toy giraffe (or “waf” as he calls it) dance rather vigorously on Mummy’s laptop.

“Gently, giraffe,” I said, “Careful with the laptop.”

The giraffe drooped. “Waf sad,” the Toddler said softly.


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