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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Pitfalls of language acquisition


One day Toddler Flails-a-lot and I decided to have some cafe time. We sat, we watched people going by, drank coffee (me) and ate a muffin (her) and talked about cars, mostly their color. It was shaping up to be a wonderful mother-daughter outing and then I shut her finger in the door. Not the padded part of the door. But the hinge all-metal-all-death side.

She started screaming and I did the parent thing of completely freaking out and falling apart on the inside while leaping into fucking action on the outside. That's an important part of being a parent, is knowing your panicked emotions are utterly irrelevant to doing what needs to be done. I soothe her, check her finger -- it's not bent at any crazy angle but the color ain't pretty. I strap her in and drive home frantically calling Husband-cat to look up "signs you broke your kid's finger" on the internet so I know what I need to watch for. As images of yet another hospital visit flash in front of my eyes, I hear from the backseat, "Ow, mommy. It's brok-ken. It's brok-ken. It's brok-ken. Waaaaaah!"

She has no idea what she saying, she just heard me say it and decided to integrate it into her crying because she likes words. Trying to salvage myself while having her cry-singing from the back sucked. I've been completley calm and reassuring to her but inside there's nothing but you-broke-your-kid's-finger-it-will-never-heal-right-you're-terrible. Yes, I know it was an accident but since she's a helpless kid I get to be responsible, no matter what and sometimes that results in a little self-hate.

I very calmly tell her we're going to go home and read books and put ice on her finger. At which point she perks up and yells, "Ice cream! I'm going to have ice cream! I want ice cream." She does this right up until I apply the ice pack to her hand. A discussion about semantic verbal differences was beyond me. I gave her the damn ice cream. Sometimes they just outflank you with their selective word choices and incessant singing.

After liberal application of ice packs and ibuprofen, her finger was just fine and some new words were added to her vocabularly. No doubt they will be trotted out for use at an opportune time. Hopefully it will be the Hub's fault next time...

door rabbit

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6 comments:

  1. The thing about Corporal Flails-a-Lot is that she is very, VERY much aware of the effect of her words on you (that is why she uses them) but has no concept whatsoever of their persistence. The self-hate will always be there, but you can learn to turn that back outward again in a healthier way if you practice a bit of perspective balancing with Hubby-cat. Good luck, Spanky!

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    1. Yeah, in retrospect, I'm no so certain she DIDN'T know what broken meant. Any lingering self-hate dissipated later when I reviewed Actions Done vs Thoughts Thought. Plus, I totally caught her & her little friend when they almost rolled down the stairs the other day so currently feeling like I'm awesome. The pendulums swing, I guess.

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  2. Yes, "use your words" might be less effective with little miss than it is with other children.

    On the other hand, I can't wait to hear all the stories she is going to make up.

    And I am with her -- any traumatic event deserves a treat ... hope all is well for all of you.

    You should have some emergency chocolate, too!

    Miss you!

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    1. That's a good point. Nowadays, 'use your words' is likely to get us a treatise on whatever the topic at hand is. She was a champ about it. Loved the ice almost as much as the ice cream.

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  3. I have this particularly bad memory of my toddler standing in his bed, when he should have been napping, screaming "You Crazy." We take our crazy very seriously in my family. I was so aggravated. He pulled it in from somewhere. Toddlerhood is a bad time to be a parent. Boarding school becomes a good idea. But Ish, your friends look like they've got your back.
    Love,
    Shalagh

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    1. Oh wow. Now that what we call in our house a "J'accuse!" of epic proportions. I would definitely be on the phone to the Hub, "Do you know what your child is saying about me?! To Siberia!!!!"

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