Matthew's Language and Speech
It’s been a while since my last Matthew blog. I have been very busy, but it’s time I do
another. Matthew has become a talking
machine. From being a quiet little child
– so quiet we actually were worried about his language development – to now
where you can’t get him to be quiet for a moment. His vocabulary keeps increasing by the
day. Sometimes my wife and I wonder
where the heck he picked up that word, nothing outrageous or scandalous, but
just a word we don’t normally use. I
wish I could capture in writing every single word, and I really wish we could
record him. That toddler voice is so
precious. I know he needs to outgrow it,
but it just seems to resonate within me like a nicely tuned instrument. His words seem to come in three categories:
words he articulates nicely, words he articulates with a toddler “accent,”
which for the most part are comprehensible, and words which seem to come from a
completely different language, a language that is no earthly language I’ve ever
heard, “English”(I suppose) from an unnamed continent.
My worries over his language lag stopped around Thanksgiving
when Matthew said his first three syllable word. What you may ask was his first three syllable
word? In typical Matthew swagger he
walks up to me and takes out of his mouth a little white stick with a candy on
the tip and says, “lol-li-pop.”
Lollipop. I had to do a double
take. He didn’t just say it as you and I
would. He emphasized the last syllable
as if that last syllable contained all the energy of the noun: lol-li-POP!
And then he started saying simple sentences such as “I
like.” He says that with a smile. Or if he bursts into a run he says, “I’m
running.” The best is when he says, “I’m
naked again.” He says that when I take
his clothes off for a bath. “You’re
naked again,” I say as I’m undressing him on my bed, and he responds, “I’m
naked again.” With that he usually
climbs down off the bed and starts buff nude sprinting across the
upstairs. “I’m naked again, I’m running,
I’m naked again, I’m running.” All I can
say is I’m raising a little streaker.
This unfortunately has become a repeated game he likes to play. He runs naked from the master bedroom to his
bedroom and hides behind a chair. So I
come in after him and pretend I don’t see him.
He hides in the same exact place every time.
“Mat-pew gone!” a squeaky voice says.
“Oh my God, Matthew’s gone.
Where did he go? What am I going
to do now? Matthew’s gone!”
“Gone, gone, gone!”
After pretending to look for him behind the crib, behind the
window shades, inside the closet, inside his toy chest, and with each
unsuccessful search hearing him rattle off a giggle, I finally close in on him
behind the chair. “There he is,” I say,
and then he giggles with “Mat-pew back.”
We also have conversations.
I do love our conversations. “What
did you do today,” I say when I come home from work.
“Cwying,” he says forlornly.
“Crying? Why? What happened?”
“Yessss.” He over
articulates the end sound in yes.
“Did you get hurt?”
“Boo boos. Boo boos.”
“Boo boos? Where?”
“Boo boos leg.” or sometimes, “Boo boos tchin.”
And then when I’m explaining something, he strangely starts
repeating the last word of my sentences.
He might bring over one of his toys that aren’t functioning. “It doesn’t run because we need to change the
battery,” I say.
“Battawee,” he echoes.
“Let’s get the screwdriver to open it.”
“Open et.” Then he
clings to my arm looking.
“See. We have to
unscrew and open the door.”
“We take the old one out.”
“We put the new one in.”
“And we close it back up.”
“Quose back up.”
I guess he’s learning words this way.
One of the more disagreeable speech habits Matthew has is
his frequent use of the word “no.” When you
ask him to do something, his first response quite often is no, whether he means
it or not. “Let’s go eat dinner now,” I
might say. “No,” he’ll respond. But he’s already on his way as he’s saying
“Let’s read your fire engine book.”
“Your Good Dog Carl book?”
“No. No, no, no.”
“It’s time to take a bath.”
“No.” And then he’ll
ponder for a second. “Naked again.”
“Time to kiss mommy goodnight.”
“No-aaaah,” he’ll say sophisticated like.
“It’s time for bed.”
That’s when he really barks out a “NOOOO.”
“Don’t tell me no.
You do that again and you’ll get punished. Into your pajamas.”
“Nooo,” he says elongating the vowel while transforming the
no into a crying wail. “Aye punished,”
he’ll say in between sobs. “Aye
punished.” “You’re not punished, not
yet, so let’s go.” And he comes along.
Another word he uses a lot is “more.” When he likes something you’ve given him,
he’ll come back with a “more.” Or even
when we’re driving and he sees a bus.
“Bus,” he’ll call out from the rear.
He has affection for buses and he watches carefully at the traffic.
“That’s a little bus,” I say.
“Car-os.” We have an
inside thing where all bus drivers are named Carlos. It’s from one of his kiddy songs.
“Yes, Carlos. He’s
got a hat on. Say bye bye”
“Bye bye.” When the
bus passes, Matthew says “more.”
“More?” I can’t make another bus come.”
“More, he demands.
“More, more, more”
But I have to admit, he’s really learned to be polite, at
least when he’s well rested. “Dank you,” he says every time you give him
something. We’ve had people who hardly
know him impressed with how naturally he says “dank you.” He hasn’t gotten the complete hang of “oo
el-com” but occasionally he let’s one out.
He does, if you remind him, say “ha-bless you” when someone sneezes.
Which brings me to words I can’t understand. Let me preface this by saying that there are
possibly more words I don’t understand than I do. Some words I get after a few repetitions by
figuring out the context. Some words my
wife, who seems to have a better handle at comprehending him, translates for
me. But some words I go days, even
weeks, before it finally dawns on me what he’s been trying to say.
“What do you want for lunch today, Matthew,” I asked one
“Yolees,” he repeats.
My wife raises her eyebrows at me. “Don’t you know?” she says. “It’s raviolis. It’s his favorite.”
Then there were the times sitting in the car he would say
“wumperwush.” He would say it
repeatedly, “wumperwush “. I turned to
my wife and asked what’s he trying to say, and she shrugged not knowing. I don’t know how long that when on, weeks
certainly. Finally I happened to be
turning around from my driver’s seat while he said “wumperwish” and noticed his
index fingers swing in unison back and forth. I then realized what he was trying to
say. Windshield wipers! He wanted me to swish the windshield wipers.
I started giving him the corks from my wine bottles to play
with. He liked collecting them and would
hold them in his hand. He came up to us
at the dinner table and asked for another.
When he asked, it left my wife and me with our mouths open in
shock. He didn’t pronounce that third
letter, and how it came out sounded like a very vulgar word: “Co-k.” “Where did he learn that?” my wife, aghast,
turned to me with an accusing look. The
room seemed to hold tension for what felt like minutes. I cycled my brain to try to remember the last
time I might have used that word, and I know I hadn’t in ages. I wanted to say, “I swear that didn’t come
from me,” but he saved me by holding open his left hand with an old cork in it
and said, “co-k.” Oh what relief on our
faces that brought. And then we doubled
over in laughter. “Make sure he never
says that in public,” my wife says through her chortling.
There are many examples of words that I fail to understand
for repeated moments. I feel so helpless
when he says something and he expects me to react and I just haven’t a
clue. Here’s a short list of some. “Schwacks” (tracks for a train set), “piptar”
(guitar), “paxy” (foxy, his favorite stuffed animal), “eye keening” (I’m
cleaning), “eye eyeting” (I’m writing), “eyesize” (exercise), “sci-tuck” (fire
truck), “Um pick dar” (I’m a rock star), and one that had me going for weeks, “a-davis”
(pajamas). And finally on a number of occasions
he said “he shawn.”
“What?” I asked, completely at a loss and no wife around to
turn to for help.
“He-shawn.” He looked
at me as if I had two heads. “He-shawn
“Schezuan?” No he
couldn’t mean the Chinese region.
“He-shawn.” It was as
if we were two from foreign countries from opposite sides of the earth. “He-shawn.”
“He-shawn.” It’s amazing how he
can just keep repeating without getting frustrated. He must think I’m a dope. Finally one day, and I don’t know how long
this had been going on, I got it. “This
one!” “This one.” He was pointing to something.
Then there are times when he seems so precocious. One day he bursts in through the front door
from being on an excursion with his mother and declares in a voice that seems
ten years older, “Daddy, I’m back,” the emphasis on “back” like he had for “pop”
in lollipop. Oh, that little boy of
How about some pictures from over the last few months. Here’s to lolli-POP.
And Christmas at my mother’s house.
We haven’t had much snow this winter, but we did get a few
inches one day.
Ok, not sure I really look all that good here, but here’s to
age and beauty together.
And finally one taken the other day, Matthew at full