Since Abe turned two years old in August, he has a new sentence every day with 10 new words. I don’t know who is teaching him these words or when he learned to read. It’s astonishing how quickly his vocabulary is growing.
He talks all day. The boy talks all. day. long. He describes, responds to, or interacts with every person, experience, and landmark. There is no part of my day that doesn’t come with a narrator. A clumsy narrator whose second language is English and whose first language was acquired during a drunken tour of Ireland.
I never understood how moms knew what their children were saying until I had a child who grew old enough to speak. I often heard children talking and then waited for their mothers to translate and then wondered, at what point did they figure out what all this garble meant?
I can now proudly tell you that I am that mother.
I noticed last week that when Abe was speaking with an adult, they kept looking at me to translate. As I became more aware of this phenomenon, I realized that I could get paid for this were it Arabic or Mandarin Chinese. I am constantly translating. No one else is positive what Abe is saying at any given time. This, I believe, is one of the only true gifts were receive as mothers to two-year-olds. My son can look a man dead in the eye and say, “Ok, enanna pay caws in tucks?” and I can immediately double back to ask, “He wants to know if you want to play cars and trucks?” Or, perhaps, “Isin doorin cuz we opin’in’in it for in out-siiii,” might sounds like crazy speak to a visiting neighbor or loved one, but to me it clearly means, “If the door is open can I go outside?”
In the very near future, I’ve decided to begin mistranslating my son’s confusing and convoluted use of the English language to those who would most be offended or made uncomfortable by it. Perhaps an older gentleman or grandmother-type would like to know that, “Abe has an itchy penis,” or, “There’s a red spot on mommy’s bottom.” Because if I have any power over my two-year-old right now, that’s about it.