My youngest daughter is in the bath. As I popped her in I reminded her that I’d be washing her hair in a little while. As I went to grab her a towel and throw her clothes into the laundry basket I could hear her saying “Head back lady. Wash hair.” I peeped in to see her holding her mermaid doll whilst pouring a gentle stream of water over its blue locks to rinse them. My daughter is at the stage where she isn’t keen on hair washing and usually cries pitifully as I wash hers. I always say something like, “Head back bubba; let’s keep the water out of your eyes.” She doesn’t do this consistently yet but she is obviously noting it and beginning to learn it as I can see it emerging in her play in this way.
Less wholesomely, “For God’s sake,” and “Shut up” have also emerged as has “Go away cat.” The first and last of these can be blamed on me. When she first said “For God’s sake” I thought it hadn’t come from me as I thought I didn’t say it. Today at the supermarket though, as the catch on the boot got stuck closed again , I heard myself say it. I smiled wrily and realised that I was to blame for this one! It’s probably better than an expletive or two but still not a proud-mother moment!
I am warmly touched by the fact that this little baby number three can also be so sweet and mannerly in her commonly used phrases. If I must take the blame for poor God’s name being taken in vain and the poor cat being unceremoniously told to sod off all the time, then I think I will accept some of the credit for the regularity with which this baby says “Love you” to us. I shall also grab a portion of the glory attached to the fact that she says please and thank you almost every time it’s appropriate to do so. This latter is a total delight and surprise to me. I don’t push the old please, thank you and sorry routines until a child is big enough to say it, know what it means and can therefore say it sincerely and meaningfully. I don’t want to teach the empty, lip-service use of these powerful phrases. This baby aged 22 months today, already knows and uses them spontaneously. I’ve rarely ever heard this from a toddler; I didn’t from my older two at this age I don’t think.
And thank goodness for this lovely courteous little side to her, because its balances up her habit of fiercely shouting “Go away!” not just to the poor old decrepit mog, but to any person in the playground, supermarket or toddler group who deigns to go anywhere near her. Consider yourself warned if you meet her and please don’t take it personally!