Sunday, October 23, 2011

Language explosion

Marko's language development has been amazing lately. It's been quite a surprise to me that language doesn't develop linearly -- instead it goes in sudden leaps and bounds. Which is why you always hear about kids who didn't speak a word till two and then started talking in sentences. Once those brain connections are made and they want to say something, they pick up words at a lightning pace.

It would be impossible to count the number of words Marko knows now. I joke that he knows them all. At any rate, he knows all the names of things he sees regularly and things he likes to do. He doesn't get adverbs at all, though. When I say to pet the kitty nicely, he thinks "nice" is a verb that means "to half pet, half hit." Ah well.

Lately he's begun to talk in sentences, though not usually original ones. He just mimics whole sentences that we use, like "Mama do it," "Grab the dog," "Mama kiss Daddy." His original sentences are more sparse: "Walk in street," "Eat crackers," "Marko's mousie." But he's certainly on his way to communicating everything he wants to.

That doesn't mean he always does use his words to communicate, though. Sometimes he just says "Mama do it, Mama do it," and when I say, "Mama do what?" he melts onto the floor in a puddle of frustration. When he's really upset, he can't speak at all. He clearly wants something and is frustrated that we don't understand him, but he's screaming too hard to pronounce anything. He certainly throws more tantrums than he did a month or two ago. Now that he's 18 months, he's very aware that what he wants doesn't always jive with what we want, and he's harder to distract. On the bright side, though, he does understand "no." Sometimes he still does the thing, but sometimes he just starts to throw a fit. In other words, he's thinking, "I want to touch that outlet, but Mama said no, so I CAN'T. I'm so upset!" But he is obeying, which is what matters (especially where outlets are concerned!).

I have always liked to sing to him. I have fun with changing the words of songs to fit our circumstances: "You've got to change your evil ways" becomes "We've got to change your stinky dipe," and "It's business time" becomes "It's sleepy time." He likes his songs. He's stopped liking many "grown-up" songs though: he prefers songs he understands the words of, like "Wheels on the Bus" and "Baa, Baa, Black Sheep." Our compromise is Jonathan Coulton. We both like him. His favorite is "Code Monkey," and he often surprises me by knowing the lyrics. The other day he was talking to himself and I couldn't figure out WHAT he was saying, until finally I realized he was saying, "Code monkey is a simple man, with big warm fuzzy secret heart." He calls the song "Code monkey like you." It's very cute.

He's not tone-deaf, either. On Wednesday, he was being a real crab, so I let him sit on my lap and watch the Muppets on YouTube. We found one of Kermit singing "Knockin' on Heaven's Door," but when I realized it was just a fan-made dub instead of the real Kermit, I moved on. I guess we watched about 30 seconds of it. On Friday, he was lying on my bed saying "Nap" so I sang, "Nap-nap-nappin' on Mama's bed." He immediately leaped up and headed for the living room, saying, "Watch a movie?" I was pretty impressed.

I am so proud of his recent achievements. I have a smart kid. I will use that to comfort me over the fact that he's still not sleeping worth a darn. Ah well, we can't have everything, can we?


Enbrethiliel said...


I'm listening to Code Monkey right now. =P I can see why both adults and children would like it! How adorable of Marko to know the lyrics. =) And how interesting that he is starting to relate to the lyrics of songs. You're making me want to find a "grownup" song with a "childlike" melody that you could try out on him.

My brother went from babbling to complete sentences almost overnight. I still remember my shock when I heard a complete sentence come out of his mouth for the first time.

CatholicMommy said...

I love Jonathan Coulton! We heard him live once in NYC. Not a family show, but overall really good.

Here's wishing you hours and hours of uninterrupted sleep tonight. :-)

Enbrethiliel said...


Okay, I had an idea! How about Eat It by Weird Al Yankovic? ;-)

Sing it to him today and tomorrow he'll hear Michael Jackson on the radio and try to run to the kitchen. LOL!

Fidelio said...

Haha, no you can't have it all. I have a toddler who sleeps (and loads the dishwasher) but doesn't speak. I'm impatiently waiting for that day when he just starts in on sentences!!

Sheila said...

I sing grown-up songs with made-up lyrics all the time. That or Weird Al. He likes the stuff I like, but he wants words that make sense to him.

"Eat It" is actually a favorite!

Enbrethiliel said...


Cool! Does Marko like The Beatles, too?

I find it interesting that he wants the words to make sense to him. That seems only logical, but I've always wondered about the parents I've seen (usually fathers, for what it's worth) who turned children younger than seven years old into die-hard fans of the likes of David Bowie and Duran Duran, whose lyrics are more complex--and even deliberately cryptic. I suppose boys like riding on the coattails of their fathers' enthusiasm, but mother needs to make sense. ;-)

(That's all just speculation, of course. The last time I was around babies on a regular basis was over a decade ago!)

On a related note, I got my youngest brother to listen to A Hard Day's Night the other day. He said that the song itself wasn't familiar to him, and yet it sounded like something he had known for years. I realized that The Beatles have influenced so many bands down the years that we can think of their sound as having been broken up and put back together in millions of musical mosaics. Run into enough of those mosaics and you'll know you've "seen" the original somewhere when you get to it.

Sheila said...

Hm. I think maybe older kids are more willing to try a song that isn't particularly intended for them. I know I love the stuff we listened to as kids: Rush, Yes, the Moody Blues, Kansas. But perhaps when I was two I preferred "The Wheels on the Bus"? I should ask my mom.

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