I have not written a Family Life Update in many months, and in that time, Kai went from a barely-talking toddler to a very-much-talking small kid with a TON of personality. I wrote down so many little snippets over the past eight months because when a child of mine is Kai’s age (now 2.5), I get A. dumbfounded by the cuteness, and B. I don’t have to worry about embarrassing him by writing down what he says. It doesn’t hurt that Kai is by far my healthiest and happiest offspring at the age of two (see Vitamin A Detox Diet Theories for more on why that might be so). I actually have time to enjoy him, and I even forget to write stuff down for weeks at a time. Plus, none of my other kids did sound-substitutions the way he does, and it is a fascinating Child Development Thing: “t” for c, “y” for l, “d” for s, etc.
Anyway, here goes Kai’s Language Adventures (abridged):
All last year, there were an increasing number of single words:
"airpens” - airplanes:
“hains” - trains
“tuddle" - cuddle
“tau" - cow
“tar" - car
“naken” - naked
In the mood for a popsicle: “MOOD!! MOOD!”
Of course, there was also the inexplicable many syllables used to indicate “moon” that Kai employed solidly through last summer: “mnt mnt dat dat!”
Look at the beautiful moon, Kai! we would say.
“Mnt mnt dat dat!” he would reply happily. “Mnt mnt dat dat!”
Then, on August 31, he pointed to a crescent moon in the sky and exclaimed, “mnt mnt dat dat MOON!” And that was the day he switched to standard pronunciation. By the end of that week, he only talked about the moon using its generally agreed-upon name, and the secret explanation for those special syllables will likely never be known.
For a while, Kai was heavily into verbing, usually one-word descriptions announced with great enthusiasm: “Bringing!” “Using!” “Tumming [coming]!” “Running!” “Vrooming!”
One day, unstable on the steps, he turned around to back down. “Beepin!” he explained to me matter of factly.
Very soon, two and three words together made for lots of new language possibilities:
“Pahpoo peese!” = Popsicle please
Waking up from his nap, yelling down the stairs: “I’M ALL DONE!”
Going up a steep hill: “BIG pill!”
Cousin Nick and Cousin Joseph = “Tuzzin Nick and Tuzzin Jof!”
Kai still convinces Jem to take him outside by sincerely commenting that he needs some “fwesh air!”
The sewing machine was a fascinating new addition to our home: “Sewinachine!”
A fast driving matchbox car: “Zippy van!”
Kai took the longest time to be able to say Eliza’s name, because L is tricky. And it was worth the wait because the pronunciation of “y” for “l” is so cute: “Yights! Eyiza! Pyay!”
Telling me that Eliza is giggling: “Yiza’s Yaffin!”
What are we having for dinner? “Noodles and polyflower [broccoli]!”
One day there was a crazy-driving flatbed tow truck which caused me to shout in alarm when it passed us on the highway…while we were driving in the right lane and it went barreling by on the the shoulder of the road. Kai still remembers that day, and his comments: “BAD flatbed! Bad flatbed!”
In mid-October, Kai stated the most words he’d strung together at one time to date: “I’m walkin…a see the duckies!!”
And then the language came pouring out like a proverbial burst dam:
For many nights, he just couldn’t fall asleep because he had too much to say: “Tammy! Dougan Tammy! Watchin robot…watchin blue robot lights…moon! Tuzzin Nick sleepin…it’s towdy [cloudy]…bum bum bum pa boom pa…orange protein…yellow protein [???]….”
Some nights he would recite his ABCs, sing, and tell me how everyone was sleeping (except him): “Eyiza….sleepin’! Ivy…sleepin’! Ben…sleepin’” Then he sang some more, and moved on to friends: “Yena…sleepin’! Gannon…sleepin’! Bogey…sleepin’! Miss Amandan…sleepin’! …xyz…g…ABC! ABC, abc, TV, yite! Bed! Window! Door! Jeep! Floor! Pyay…”
One night he sang a bedtime ditty where the song never stopped till he actually fell asleep in the middle: “BLOW a man down! Hmm hm hm hm hm hm… protein! Yellow protein, pink protein, green ones! Hmmmm…One, two, free, one two free, T, U, V, double, X Y Z! A people bus go up in down, up in down…Hmmmm hmmmmm hmmmm…Ben high up, mama high up, Yiza high up, Ivy high up, jem high up, high up! …watch robot, watch robot, watch a robot [referring to a friend’s cool toy]…hmmm hmmm hmmm…”
One night he explained: “It’s three o clock. It’s ten. It’s ninety five sirty five!”
The next night, Kai scrambled over my butt when crawling over to snuggle, and made an exaggerated toddler sigh before he explained: “Climb over the BIG bump to come tuddle!”
Directing me to take off my sweater before nursing: “Be naked, Mama!”
Breakfast bowl empty: “Tell Mama, empty oatses!”
On the stairs: “Hold a BIG railing! Climb a mountain.”
After learning a new song, There Is Work To Be Done, Kai sings: “There is JOKE to be done, there is joke to be done!”
Trying to convince me to stay in bed to tuck him in for longer: “MORE baby! More tuddle monkey!”
Such cuteness…except when others are wanting to sleep, such as during family travels when we all share a bedroom. At 6:20 am, Kai rolls over for the fifty seven millionth time, only this time he opens his eyes: “Moon!! Risin’!! …dark. …POOF! There’s a jeep just our size. Mama finds truck for you. Bogey sleepin! Gannon sleepin! Ivy sleepin. Yiza sleepin…”
Eliza: “NOBODY’S sleepin anymore, Kai!”
It’s always so interesting how gradually it becomes possible for a child to use language not just to announce and name things, but to actually converse!
Kai is smacking two cars together. Ivy says, “Please don’t bam those cars together so hard, Kai. Just do it gently!”
Kai eyes her carefully, and smacks them more lightly: “Tiny.” With his eyes still on his big sister, Kai begins to smack the cars together harder again. “Tiny: BIGGER tiny!!”
Ben: Can I show you something?
Kai: Wake a second!
After raising four babies who were pretty much done with diapers by 18 months, I thought I knew everything about Elimination Communication. Then along came my fifth, who will often (still now!) pee in his pants rather than pull them down or use the potty. One day, after we arrived at a driving destination with a soaking wet Kai (who had many pottytunities all along the drive, had he wanted to avail himself of them), Jem asked: “Kai, don’t you want to be a big boy and pee in the potty?”
“No!” said Kai immediately
“Oh,” Jem said understandingly, “do you want to be a baby still?”
“No,” said my baby, “I’m just Tai!”
For several months around when Kai turned two, he was absolutely fascinated by letters, especially because he noticed them everywhere! He learned all the uppercase ones, and then started learning lowercase.
Then all winter long we got batches of books from the library that he wished for everyone to read to him, and which he proceeded to memorize and recite in a fascinating stream of understanding and consciousness:
“I Am A Backhoe by Anna Grossnickle Hines: Flat bed truck! Beep beep beep! Poof a jeep just our size! Flatbed truck! Flatbed truck gotta roller. Bruuummm brum! Person inside. Sittin ona flatbed truck. Sittin ona flatbed truck. Hat on…”
“Very hungy taterpillar: And one day sun tame up and found an egg: very hungy taterpillar! Had to look for some food, and on Wednesday…no, on _Monday_, he found apple, but TILL hungy. On Tuesday, ate one apple but till hungy. On Wednesday, ate one choco take and one orange. On Saturday, ate one choco take, one ice team tone, one tice of pickle, one tuptake, and one tup of milk, and he had a tomach ache. On Sunday he ate one nice geen leaf and felt much MUCH better…”
“Freight Tain: …Blue box tar, green tattle tar, purple dondola tar, bwack tender, bwack steam engine…”
Kai has been singing since before he could talk, and now that he is talking, the tunes are especially cute:
🎶🎶🎶Cockles and Mussels: “….mockles and mussels a yive, a yive o!”
🎶🎶🎶Sung to the tune of “a thousand miles”: “Tambled eggies, tambled eggs, tambled eggies, tambled eggies, tambled eggs, tambled eggies, meatballs…” 😂
🎶🎶🎶“A Wheel bus…roundin roundin!” (Commentary: “I yov [love] The Wheels on the Bus go round and round! …I yov it too, all through the town.”)
🎶🎶🎶Twinkle twinkle little star: “….Winkle tar, winkle tar…”
“…We sall be known by the company we keep…It is time now! It is time to be a yive, in a turning we sall know to be…”🎶🎶🎶
“…Anda seasons go round and round anda painted ponies UP An DOWN we’re captive ona carousel of time…we can look where we tame, AND go roundin roundin roundin Circle game…yesterday a child tame out to wanderrrr…caught a dragonfly inside a jarrrrr….fearful at the thunder, and tearful ata fallin’ of a tar…”🎶🎶🎶
It’s so fascinating when a child can describe the world he sees in detail and inquire about it:
“Ivy’s…chair! Eyiza’s…chair.” Kai, where is Papa’s chair? “Papa workin’.” But where would he sit if he were here? “…Makin’ money.”
Hide and seek: “…I’m hiding! …I’m dun! …I tamed out!”
Getting ready for bed: “But I don’t WANT to! …why DO humans sleep?”
And there is always the intrepid irrationality of a two-year-old, especially during a certain developmental stage: “No way. NO!” …Do you have to pee, Kai? “No!” Can I check your pants? “No!” Kai, you need to pee. Can I help you onto the potty? “NO!!” Here, I’ll help you onto the potty. Isn’t it nice to let your pee come out? “I said NO!” Want me to read you a book? “No!!” Are you done on the potty? “No!” Don’t you want to get off the potty? I can wipe you and you can go play again! “I said NO!” Etc. Such a fun age!
“It’s PUHjahma time. NOT pehJAMA time!”
Spinning around: “I’m dizzin, Mama!”
“Tum an’ play, Mama!” Getting his trucks in a row: “…Now…CLICK! Should be one more…I’m bein’ dere, Mama! Dat’s my work.”
More irrationality (to the point where both his sisters start giggling and eventually tell him off politely): “…Don’t go on the mat! Don’t play with my trucks! Don’t go on the mat, and don’t touch my bike! …DON’T have a funny face!!”
Looking at a photo album: “That’s you, Mama, and Jeffer! I’m saying Papa’s name is Jeffer.”
Grandpa (“Branca”) kisses Kai goodnight: “It’s bumpy! …Branca has a yong, yong beard! I don’t yike beards. I want to high-five.”
Do you want to pet the horse, Kai? “No,” he says definitely, awestruck. “It’s REAL!”
Pretending, and telling me all about it: “Vrooooooom vrooooom, gonna dump the dumper! Recylin’ truck’s a gonna tum today. It turns, too, yike a dumper, see?”
Super crazy cute pronunciation of “sn” and “sm” at the beginning of words involves substituting a short inhale/exhale, as in: “I’m a Hnuggle Bunny!” and “Dat’s a hmall one!”
“There are tinky trucks out there!”
“There was abody on one truck, and another body on another truck. It was kind of like a dump truck! It maybe had batteries.”
I had to retire my itchy wool sweater one afternoon, after I went to give Kai his post-nap snuggle and he told me, “That is owie to hug!!”
Last time we left Jeff home during a road trip, Kai chatted with him via zoom, and told Grandma seriously that he would come visit again, but he now had to go home since “Papa is in the phone!”
Explaining the bathroom: “That’s the sound of a peeing sound!! Everybody pees!”
Explaining a move: “Has cars and driving and cities and towns! And sometimes cars are real in movies.”
Handing Jem a digger to attach to the crane: "I have a DATE idea! I can hook it!"
I’m in the bathroom, kinda sorta hiding in the peace and quiet, when Kai comes in: “I bring trucks for you, Mama!” He toddles away and is back in a twinkling, dragging a large toy behind him: “I brought a CRANE for you!”
Explaining to our friends, a very polite host: “It’s dinner time! Come in! Dere’s trucks inside!”
After Eliza told him all about Aunty Theeny’s Nicaraguan beach vacation, Kai was all in: “Aunty Seeny at the jungle beach! Want to doh, in a boat that flies, next to Ben and Jem and Mama and Papa and Yiza and Ivy, to the jungle beach! Bring toys, and dig!”
Trying to catch dust motes: “Dey’re runnin’ away!”
I like how two year olds don’t deny reality when they argue. Me: Kai! I don’t want you jumping on my bed! Kai: “I AM jumping on your bed! I’m just doing it QUICK.”
Just when I think he is asleep one night, he lifts his sweaty head up and whispers: “Does thunder have wings?” Well, no, not really. He thinks for a minute, and then whispers, “Does thunder have eyes? Or eyebrows?” Well, no, it doesn’t. “Is thunder big?” Well, can sound be big? Remember, thunder is a sound. “Yes!” Kai decides. “Sound can be big!”
Kai has been a very upbeat and happy person for most of his short and healthy life. The largest hiccup so far was the day that Ben and Jem left on the train to go to Camp…where Ben still remains, working, and where Jem attended a week-long session in February. Kai was heartbroken.
The night before they left, Kai got suddenly and totally upset before bedtime, and yelled loudly for a couple of minutes. When he finally calmed down, I said, It’s confusing when everything feels different, huh? With Ben and Jem and Luna getting ready to go to camp…
And Kai’s lip quivered tremulously, and he said. “They have to leave. I gonna miss them. They have to go on a train. A REAL train!” 😭😭😭
Kai continues to be sad, many weeks later, about Ben’s absence, and he especially hasn’t liked the inklings of change as we started downsizing our possessions and furniture. He even developed a pretty worrisome stutter for about seven days. The day we moved the final large item out of the house, a play therapy session ensued. Kai was playing with Ivy and Eliza and the legos, making one brick fly around that he called his “helicopter,” when suddenly he left the room. “I can’t play,” he called out happily to Ivy, “because I’m feeling too sad!”
“Okay,” said Ivy. “Are you coming in now?”
“No!” shouted Kai importantly. “I’m TILL sad!!” He came running back in and then selected a Lego Batman person, and brought it to me in the kitchen. “He’s SAD,” Kai told me. “He fell down and is SAD.”
“Oh, Lego Batman, you are so sad!” I said. “You must need TONS of hugs! Here are hugs and kisses!”
Kai took Batman back to the mat and returned with a Thomas the train. “Dis one is sad too,” Kai told me with a big smile. “He bumped!”
“The train BUMPED?!” I said. “It must need so many cuddles and hugs! How many does he need?”
This went on for many minutes, with every toy coming in with Kai, to tell me how sad it was.
At dinner he barely complained (he’d been whining at every meal), and he ate three bowls of soup (he hasn’t been wanting to eat much lately, either). Toward the end of the meal he pointed at a train that was lying on the floor, and said, “Dat one feels all dood now!” The interesting thing was that Kai barely stuttered all afternoon, and that particular challenge (says his mother with enormous relief) has not been part of his sadness-at-missing-Ben ever since.
Lately, Kai continues to learn tons of new words and talks about everything and is growing up so swiftly that I can barely keep track. He sometimes pretends he’s a cat. Or a Hnuggle Puppy. Or a Really Really Big Bison. And sometimes he makes jokes:
“I have…belly button! Hippos have….tummies!”
Who else has belly buttons and tummies?
“Everybody!…Poops in their pants!”
That’s doesn’t make ANY sense, Kai!
“EVERYBODY poops in their pants!” [Cracks himself up laughing.] “JEM poops in his pants!!”
No he doesn’t! You are making a joke!
[Laughs loudly.] “It not make any sense!! It not make ANY sense!” 😂😂😂
To Be Continued