Wednesday, July 15, 2009
I have worked with kids for so many years I cannot remember a time when I didn’t. I always heard people say, “It’s toooootally different when they’re your own”. But of course I believed that my experiences would lead me to a good place in handling my own kids one day.
Fast forward, umm . . . a bunch of years. Three one and a half year olds have taken over my house and are running around babbling about who knows what. Currently we have a house full with the little ones, a seventh grader and a college student, plus us. All stages of life, all varied approaches to communication. As you might imagine, it can drive a person to drink. I wish someone would drive me to drink. However, if I’m not sober, nothing gets done. But I digress. I started teaching the kids sign language very early because it was obvious communication was going to be a challenge in our house. They sweetly signed “more”, “eat” and “love”, and amazed us with how much babies and toddlers can actually understand, long before they are able to articulate and pronounce actual words. This is where sign language was helpful. Then - they opened their adorable little mouths. At first it was cute. “Oh look, she’s cooing!” and “Awww, he is saying ‘Ma Ma!”. Many weeks passed in this manner. We were enthralled.
Unintelligible sounds and crying are now uttered rapid-fire in three directions. Conversations to which we are not privy are carried on in all corners of the house and behind couches. Chatter emulates from the video monitor after we leave them at bed time, our daughter playing emcee as she walks from one side of her crib to the other between the boys, encouraging them to play along.
Then, there are the tantrums. I swear they are working on their first Oscar. This is when the decibel level goes sky high. There is screaming, the bottle stealing begins, fighting over toys, hitting and inevitably someone, usually my daughter, lands in baby jail. They get a minute behind “bars”, and usually find their way out in that amount of time and resume their suspect behavior. In the meantime, other babbling is taking place across the room, coupled with laughter from the two who are tumbling around together and thrilled at their ‘freedom’.
My husband and I have taken up shouting to have any communication with each other, though sentences rarely get finished. We shake our heads halfway through and give each other knowing looks that whatever it is we are trying to say will become drowned out and lost in the sea of noise and the ocean of small, sticky beings that reside here. Kids need repetition right? I do this all day long. I don’t so much need the repetition. I could do with an infusion of, say, QUIET TIME. Sorry, did I yell that out to you over the noise? I must be losing my hearing.
Spelling has also come in handy now that the kids know what some words mean. One day our babysitter and I thought it was funny that one of my boys was spitting. We videotaped it, chuckling. Her name begins with “K”, so the kids call her “K-K”. To her dismay, they pronounce it “Ka-Ka”. Now, whenever I say, “K-K”, they spit. Good one Ma-Ma. But it doesn’t stop there. I say, “Don’t spit”, they spit. I say, “Thank you”, they say “Donk ooo”. I say “Darn” (or something similar), they say “duhn”. I say “Oh crap!” they say, “Doh aahhh”. Ooops. It’s no wonder that the utterances of these small people are beginning to arrive with more clarity. They hear us loud and clear.