Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Babbling in Complete Sentences

            I left work early yesterday because my stomach was on fire. Turns out I wasn’t alone – Michelle had it too, and I’m guessing so did our daughter. Was it something we ate, or some passing sickness? I don’t know, and I still feel sensitive today. Being sick is one thing, but dealing with it is the challenge.
            When I’m sick, I can mentally steel myself to deal with it. Sure, I may feel awful, but at least I know what feels bad, and I can do something about it. When Michelle is sick, I can’t necessarily do very much, but I can drop my plans and pamper her (which I did yesterday). But when the little potato gets sick, it’s hard to know what to do because we never really know exactly what’s wrong.
            I assumed that she probably feels the same as us (she had just as much gas!), but how can I really know? And even if I do know it’s a stomach issue, I don’t feel comfortable giving her Pepto Bismol with all their crazy warnings for youngsters. This would all be so much easier if I actually knew what was wrong!
            I’m definitely looking forward to when she gets proper language. She’s been babbling for months, but still has a tiny vocabulary. On the positive side, she’s now using complete sentences, which makes a father smile. Every once in a while I know she’s saying a real word in there, but usually it’s just a long, strung-out sentence of gobbledy-gook.
            “Erk-der bur-bee boo bee ack-a-ma da-da boo see,” she’ll say inquisitively.
            “Yes, that’s the Christmas tree,” I’ll reply. “We’re going to take it down on the sixth of January because that’s the Twelfth Day of Christmas.”
            “Oh!” she’ll say loudly.
            I love it when she says, “Oh.” It’s like she’s showing me she understood everything I just said, and perhaps that I was actually understanding her and answering her questions. It just makes me want to nibble on her plump cheeks and kiss her all over.
            But the babble doesn’t really help when we’re trying to troubleshoot her issues. I’m a guy – I’m all about solving the technical difficulties. But there’s no manual that comes with a toddler that tells you what the babble translations are. Instead, on nights like last night where she woke up eighteen times (okay, maybe twice, but it felt like a lot) and interrupted our night’s rest, we simply have to throw our hands up and tolerate it.
            As I said, I can’t wait till she’s talking. But I’m torn. I have a friend who said to appreciate when they’re young, because it only happens once and you’ll miss it. I can see that. This babble stuff is so endearing complete strangers come up to her with big grins on their faces and talk to her so they can hear her response. Yes, I don’t want to rush it. But man, I’d really like to know what’s really going on for her.
            Ah, yes. Welcome to parenting. Most of the time we’re just shooting in the dark. Occasionally we feel like we hit the mark, but frankly, it seems to me that we won’t really know till the kids are much older, and by then we’ll all have forgotten anyway.
            When I was a four-year-old I distinctly remember thinking to myself, “When I’m a parent, I’m going to do things this way…” But what “this” is, I can’t really seem to remember. Oh well, I suppose it probably wasn’t all that important anyway. Whatever it was I got riled up about at four, today I love my own parents dearly, and they love me. At the end of the day, that’s what matters the most.

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