Last time my mother was visiting Hawkeye was communicating with very basic sentences and a relatively limited vocabulary. Now, he’s a full blown threenager, and while much of his babble is still in that mysterious language unknown to grownups, there is also a significantly more complex communication going on. Observing natural language acquisition from up close is fascinating.
In addition to his finely honed three-year-old vocabulary, there is also the sharp toddler observation skills to contend with. It is true that as adults we are often so blind to the world around us because we accept so much of it already for granted that it becomes an invisible part of the scenery.
Toddlers do not appear to have any such filter. They notice anything and everything no matter how small and insignificant. And if it something that threatens their current understanding of the world around them, unhappiness ensues.
This is now happening in our house because we have three generations under one roof. But in true Highlander-style, there can be only one Mama. I am she. I am Mama. The Mister is Daddy. And my mother is Baba. So when I call my own mother “Mama”, as I am quite used to doing it, I upset the natural order of things for my own toddler. He gets very cross with me and begins to lecture, his finger wagging at the two of us.
“No! She’s not Mama! You’re Mama!”
The scolding can be so severe I sometimes feel like I need to snap to attention and salute to make up for my transgression. I try as hard as I can to remember to say “Baba” but I am a hopeless recruit and keep failing. Hawkeye continues to be disappointed in me.