Communication Stages and Your Toddler

I’m not certain it is because I had my only child, Cooper when I was a bit older, 42 to be exact, or if it’s because I lack a certain sense of maturity myself along with an appropriate filter. I am a comedienne and actor and feel my humor and view of the world is what gets me through rough times.  I know “everyone” says that you have to grow up when you have a child but being immature and silly is what keeps me looking much younger than I am, which I am thankful. Instead of  losing that part of me, I have chosen to accept that this is one of the strengths which will help me raise my child and give him a great perspective on life.

One of the most interesting things I’ve discovered with raising Cooper is the different ways of communication come into play. I’ve broken it down into three categories:  How I communicate with Cooper, how Cooper communicates with me and how we, collectively, communicate in public places.

Since Cooper began daycare, at 4 months old, I would use our commuting time in the car to talk to him or sing songs.  I knew he wasn’t capable of retaining much but I continued to do so on a daily basis.  As he began to speak words and slowly string words together, I often found myself acting like Anne Sullivan with her student, Helen Keller, from The Miracle Worker. I would say things very slowly and point and gesture in order to help him sound out words and understand their meaning.  I want to be silly with him and teach him funny words often just to hear how he will say them.

At 21/2, Cooper speaks very well and strings phrases together like a pro.  I realize I can’t take all of the credit because he goes to a wonderful daycare with a lot of interaction with fellow classmates.  Sometimes he will just burst into song (If I hear “Let it go” one more time….) and other times he surprises me with sentences which actually make sense, albeit hurtful at times.  Today, as I put him in his carseat and gave him a little cookie he said, “Go away Mommy” which made me feel super!

I used to laugh at the parents who would communicate loudly with their children in public places. I couldn’t understand why they would do and then look to strangers for a laugh if their child did something that was SO funny (but not really). Guess what I do on a regular basis? I have full on conversations with Cooper in public places, often times so loudly that I’m mortified when I realize that the only reason strangers are looking at me is because my annoying sing-songy voice could be heard from miles away.

“Cooper, I’m using a new eye cream but I’m still going go get Botox eventually.”

“Cooper, sometimes Mommy has to wear her flip-flops after work because she retains water and it makes her feet swell from her big-girl shoes.”

“Cooper, will I ever perform on stage again or is it over for this gal (as I gesture to myself with my thumb)?”

I don’t expect an answer, even though he is grasping an understanding of the English language more and more on a daily basis but a simple affirmation would always be appreciated. I can’t always talk baby talk – it gets so old so quickly. Plus my innate sense and need to entertain brought me to the realization that if I’m going to have full on, often one-sided conversations with my toddler, then at least they should be entertaining.

I hope that Cooper has our sense of humor and continues to be as funny as he is, even if he doesn’t realize what he is doing or saying is funny. I know it isn’t always ideal to encourage him but being funny and silly can make a dark day seem so much better and, while I hope he doesn’t have dark days, at least he will be equipped to handle them and help others too.  Laughing and making others laugh is one of the best gifts I can give him…that is until he says “Go away Mommy” again!

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