Sunday, August 26, 2012


At two, Little Bug is getting to be recognizably human at a dizzying pace. He brushes his teeth at the sink. He's considering using a potty (although after one humiliating episode in which he peed on the floor, neat-boy is reconsidering this. He looked up at me with soulful eyes under the masses of hair he's sprouted and said, very solemnly, "Whoops."). He's sleeping in the big-guy bed at nap time. He's building ridiculously huge sets of train tracks all over the living room--albeit with lots of help from Mama Jennifer.

But mostly--at last--he's talking! A lot of it is hilarious, and, sturdy and self-confident character that Bug is, he doesn't mind if we laugh. He laughs with us. Tonight at dinner it was "abamoof." And when we couldn't get it, he just got louder, like all good English-speakers, he assumed that if he just yelled everyone could understand him. He put his water glass down.


As his volume increased, so did his speed, ABAMOOFABAMOOFABAMOOFABAMOOF!

We guessed a few things, but finally were reduced to hysterics by his insistence and complete incomprehensibility. Finally he pointed at the window. Inspired, or desperate, I said, "Are you saying, 'Half a moon?'"

"Yes! Half a moof!" He said it with great patience, as if he was trying to be good-natured with the idiots he was saddled with for parents. Somewhere in there the f's were interfering with each other, but that wasn't his problem.

My absolute favorite, gone  for a few weeks now sadly, was his word for bulldozer for a while: "Bordello." Clear as a bell. Also "L'amour" for his beloved toy, the lawnmower.

He's adding A's to the ends of lots of words, too. If he wants to scare you, he jumps out and says, "Boo-a!" The number after one is "two-a" and if you look at his foot you will see a "toe-a." Cracks me up.

The characters from Thomas the Tank Engine are taking up a lot of his imaginative energy, but he lacks a certain linguistic precision with their names. Gordon is Gorna, Percy is Pusu, and Duncan is Duncna. As his babysitter said, you sort of imagine Gordon and Gorna sneaking out on dates.

He's also taken to announcing to the strangers who ask (including Dora the Explorer) that his name is Jack. While I've taken pains to not use his name in this public blog, it's not Jack. He has his own private life going on, apparently, under the name of Jack.

That's not his only invention. Tonight he announced that he was a backhoe. Named Jackhoe. Oh, the tabloid Michael Jackson jokes that ran horribly through my mind. 

He's also got a problem with terminal O's. They just go on and on. Cheerioo-o-o-o-s. Risotto is Ris-to-o-o-o-o.

And one I fear he'll never lose, because we've all taken it up, is "la" for yes. It was one of his first words, but he's not fixed it. Instead, he's adding to it. Recently, he's picked up an ever-so-casual "yup." Except he says it "lup." Now we all walk around saying "lup."

Context is still everything with understanding him, as with little kids generally I think. When he did his speech evaluation last week, one of the things he had to do was respond to a whole lot of language prompts in a book. It was kind of mean--drop a curious guy in the middle of a room with toys everywhere, mostly at eye-level, and then ask him to sit at a table in a chair and look at cartoonish drawings of kids doing boring things. As we kept trying to redirect him to the book, I thought, exasperated, about the parents who feel like school-teachers unfairly identify their kids as ADHD. Really, I wanted to argue with the speech therapist, he's two. Let him play with your trucks and doll house.

Finally, he got some of his attention directed at the exam instrument. "This boy is hungry! What should he do!" asked the therapist, Bev.

Bug wanted to help her. He's a good guy, and she seemed so excited. "Eat," he said.

"This girl is cold! What should she do!"

Wound up by all the exclamation points in her tone, he tried to match her. "Backhoe shirt!" he shouted.

Mamas cracked up, while Bev looked completely puzzled. "He's got a long-sleeved shirt with a backhoe on it," we said, when we could stop laughing. "It's what he wears when it gets cold."

"This boy is tired! What should he do!"

"Na-Na!" (nurse--so he can fall asleep.)

I have no idea how she coded that one.

One thing I'm sure of is that he failed all the prompts for a gerund, an -ing word. We weren't surprised. We hadn't heard one.

One minute after we got home, he repeated something I had said months ago were the important rules:

"No fighting, no biting, no hitting, no spitting."

Seriously, dude, you couldn't have said that five minutes earlier? You don't know that your mamas are achievers and that was a test? He spent the rest of the day riffing with gerunds. He stuck his head in the office--"Mama working!" He'd announce, "Running!" as he went off to do some. "Barking" of the dog. It was torture.

But the good news in all this mangled English is that it's where he should be, or close enough. The speech therapist wants to see us back in six months, but no speech therapy, no need to worry about an articulation disorder, at least not at the moment. And that is good news indeed. Lup. Sure is.