My son just turned two and it is like a verbal switch flipped. It seems like each week his communication skills get better and better. His newfound speech is a positive thing in so many ways, but there are also a few drawbacks to having a talking toddler.
I love that the guessing game is over. I no longer have to decipher cries to figure out whether my toddler is hungry, tired, mad, or having fun. He just tells me how he is feeling, and I love it.
Con: They can communicate what they want.
Once your toddler starts talking, you can no longer pretend like you don’t understand what they want. No, they don’t want carrots. No, they don’t want to go to bed. No, they want to watch Caillou instead of Sesame Street. And sometimes, if you don’t respond the way they want you to, then they get upset. I know that my son looks at me sometimes and thinks, “I just told my mom that I want to go to the playground. I know I said it the right way, so I’m a bit confused as to why we are not leaving for the playground right now. Hm, maybe if I say it 100 more times at increasingly higher decibels, it will finally sink into her thick skull.”
Pro: It’s fun to eavesdrop on their toddler talk.
Whenever my son is in his crib, he talks to himself. His monologue is a total stream of consciousness and so much fun to listen to. Here is a transcript I recently recorded from bedtime:
“Peanut Butter. I sorry, Mama. Sweet dreams. (Fake Sneezes) Oh yeah. Yeah. Mama, Mommy, Daddy, Mama, Daddy. School bus. Mommy, mommy, mommy. Daddy. Ah-CHOO! Ah-CHOO! (Sigh) Mama! Play water. Play water. (Fake snoring) Dinosaur! Dinosaur. Dinosaur. Dinosaur. Dinosaur. Dinosaur. Dinosaur. Tiger. Dinosaur. Dinosaur. Di-no-saur. Ah-CHOO! Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye, goodbye. Bye-bye. Goooodbye. Good…BYE! Good…BYE! It’s stuck. It’s stuck. Mommy, the bed, it’s stuck! (Fake snoring) Oh yeah. A sock!”
Con: Quiet time in the car is a thing of the past.
Gone are the days when I could zone out and sings songs in the car or quietly process my thoughts and make mental to-do lists. From the moment we changed to a forward-facing car seat, car rides became an invitation for nonstop toddler talk. While eavesdropping on his toddler talk from the baby monitor is fun, the uninterrupted automobile talk is tiring. Probably because these conversations require nonstop responses.
A brief sampling of the car dialogue:
“Red light. Stop! Green light. Go! Look, mama, a W! Do you see it? Do you see the W? Go over a bridge? Weeeeeee! Yay! Go over the bridge again? [I say no.] Aw-w…can’t go over the bridge again? Aw-w. Watch out for the car. Watch out for the car, mama. An A! Do you see it? D’you see the A? [A motorcycle drives by.] What’s that noise, Mama? Do you hear it? Do you hear the noise? Redlightstopgreenlightgoredlightstopgreenlightgo! Weeeeeeeee! [Radio playing Pink: Just give me a reason, just a little bit’s enough, just a second we’re not broken just bent…) No, it’s not broken, Mama! Mama? It’s not broken. No. Not broken…”
It feels good to be appreciated by your toddler. Once they start talking, they start to compliment you on the things that you do for them. Hearing their praise is so rewarding. The other day my son and I went to lunch with my mom. As usual, I turned into a clown to try to keep him entertained during restaurant time. After I made some silly faces, my son tapped my mom on the arm and said, “Look (grandma)! Mama is SO funny!” That made my
day year. A few days later, he had just finished singing Let It Go in the car (Well, to be honest, he just screams “Let it go! Let it go! More! Let it go! Let it go! Door!) when he said, “It’s your turn, Mama.” So I started singing the song and when I was done he said, “Wow! Great singing, Mama!”
Con: They give (constructive?) criticism.
For every time toddlers say, “Delicious!” to compliment you on something you’ve cooked, there are probably ten times that they lick the food and say, “Yuck. This is gross.” When my son is not in the mood to be entertained, he looks at me with a dead stare and says, “Mama, NOT funny.”
Pro: They say “I love you.”
This is the pro that makes all of the cons worth it. Hearing my toddler say, “I love you, Mama,” never fails to melt my heart and make me feel grateful that my son is now able to communicate with me. While I do sometimes miss my quiet car rides, I will never miss the days when I didn’t hear his beautiful voice say, “I love you.”