Monday, April 07, 2008

Some Ramblings on Language

“Well, I never!” says Henry, angry with me because I want to do an exercise video before I let him watch the DVD he checked out from the library.

Where, exactly, did my two year old learn to express his anger with the words and intonation of a prim schoolmarm?

And then later, in baby talk—angry again over something I’ve now forgotten—he says, “Me never! Me never!” Bratty baby meets offended 50’s housewife.

Both Luke and Henry seem to try on phrases, ways of speaking, and emotions conveyed through language. Luke is often in a sullen 80’s skater phase: “Duh!” he says to Henry, “You freak! I’m like, totally awesome dude!” But then, moments later when surprised, he says, “Goodness gracious!”

“Crimeny!” they both proclaim.

Much of what is reflected back to me is my own attempt at trying to clean up my mouth. After both boys (Henry not even two) went through a phase of yelling “Dammit!” I became more aware of my own ways of expressing frustration.

“CRAIG! Gosh darnit! Crimeny!” I yell. “Why didn’t you do these dishes like you promised?” Really mad, I yell, “For goodness sakes!”

As Luke approached age two, I often discussed the idea of the terrible two’s with my friend Nancy. She wondered if Luke would have as many tantrums and troubles as some children do at this age since he already had an enormous vocabulary.

But Luke did have tantrums, huge ones that sometimes lasted for the better part of an hour. And now as I remember that time, I think it was because Luke experienced such intense emotions, and no possible words could ever describe them. And this is true even to this day.

“Look, Mom,” says Luke. “This is my barrage of bombs,” he declares about the pile of small dirt balls he is creating. So articulate and creative, this son of mine!

But later, when I force him to abandon the plans he has made to drag a table and chairs half a block out to the small grass island in the middle of the court we live on so he can play a game he has devised called “Arctic Circle,” he turns purple, screams, wails “Ma ma!” He kicks the wall and yells, “I’m going to kill you!”

Sometimes “goodness gracious” just isn’t enough. Really, nothing is. And so I cuddle down with him and read him a book, because there are no words that will solve this problem.


Nancy said...

All I can say is that your language of frustration is pretty clean compared to mine lately. I often feel I have no concept how to get through to Emily, and since beatings aren't appropriate, and consequences seem to always be faced by me rather than the kids (if they're late to school, who pays? ME! because I don't get to work on time).

You're reminding me of Miss Manners' advice to parents to argue in a foreign language, so the kids would learn one easily.

Beck said...

I LOVE that your kids say CRIMINEY! Ha!
My very, very vocal son threw some of the most hilarious tantrums ever, just like yours.

Molly Sabourin said...

You're right Ser. There are no words or magical discipline techniques to stop it. Troy and I both have fairly long fuses and yet our boys snap emotionally like twigs at the slightest provocation using taboo phrases guaranteed to get a rise out of their peace loving parents. Cuddling down is truly the best plan ever. You're a sweet mama!

marji said...

Oh you salty dog! Actually, your calm voice and cool head said more than any words ever could. I can picture Luke saying all of this and it makes me smile.