Saturday, December 3, 2011

Early Conversations

At two years and 4 months of age, la cocotte is really coming into her own conversationally. Now that she can express her thoughts verbally, it's fascinating (to her adoring parents anyway) to see what it is that she invests in expressing. Actually even biased parent factor aside, it is an inherently fascinating thing to watch what it is that a new speaker decides to express of the her internal world and the world around her. It turns out to be mostly observational, instructional and re-iterative.

She loves to observe and report the facts of her little world. She will proudly tell her daycare no teacher: "Maman bebe la bedaine. No bebe baba." (Mama baby in belly. No baby baba [daddy]). Almost everyday we get a count of how many lulus (ponytails) she and everyone else she sees has. Daddy has a constant count of zero.

She will constantly re-iterate the facts of her world. "No souliers [dans la] maison!" (no shoes [in the] house). "Nounou pas dans la bouche, seulement la main." (No pacifier in the mouth, only in the hand). This one stems from one of our very few rules. We have weaned her down to having the pacifier only in bed, in the stroller and the car seat. At other times she can hold it in her hand but not put it in her mouth; at which point she carries it around constantly looking at it, bringing it near her mouth or will sometimes turn away from us for a moment so her face is hidden and avidly suck away since we can't see her and therefore ostensibly don't know what she is doing. It is very reminiscent of a smoker craving for and sneaking a fix; an obvious but discomfitting analogy.

She will instruct. Given that she is surrounded by order-issuing adults all day long it is not surprising that she likes to issue her own. In fact one of her first complete(ish) sentences was an order. On our way back from the park one day, she clearly stated "Maison la cocotte jouer avec baba. Seulement Baba. No maman." ([At the] house la cocotte [will] play with baba. Only baba. No mama.) Ouch. But honest. Not intended to hurt. Just an honest statement of preference. And yes, she does call herself la cocotte. Direct article and all.

There is not yet any discussion of feelings. Feelings are expressed directly i.e showing visible fear when Swiper appears during her Dora the Explorer video. Crying when displeased. Smiling and hugging when happy or affectionate. There is also no interpretation. It's all: just the facts ma'am. In other words there is are none of the constructs that muddy the waters of adult conversation. No manipulations, no subterfuge, no subtlety. She just tells it like it is. To converse with her is to drink ice cold, pure, unfiltered spring water after a long run on a humid day. Pure refreshment. Total satisfaction. Uncomplicated.

1 comment:

  1. I'm calling this post my Christmas present. Thank you.

    When I was trying to learn Chinese, I made my first attempt at conversation with a 2 year-old, thinking we might be on a par linguistically. I greeted him with "Nihao ma" - the standard hello - and his mother looked at him, looked at me, then said "Pu, ma?" Which I translated as "No?" It took me forever to realize I'd asked "Are you well?" and he was sick, so his mother said, "No (you're not)... right?" I still speak no Chinese.