Carter Uses Her Words

I realize I do very little writing about Carter.  It isn’t that she’s still a blob of goo with no personality, and it isn’t even that her sister–who we thought would be the most outspoken, hard-headed, strong-willed, and possibly smartest of all our children–outshines her.  I think Carter might actually one day give Eliott’s mouth a run for its money.  My neglect of the Carter spotlight has likely been due to the majority of her cuteness being wrapped up in things that are so small and so fleeting that they are impossible to capture with words.  Until recently.

About two weeks ago, Carter’s vocabulary included approximately 10 words, none of which was Mama, by the way, but all of which included the things she loves and/or needs the most in the day: Daddy, Eliott, Boo (her blanket), milk, more, ray-rays (raisins), cookie, CA-EEKE!, toot, and nope.  Girl loves her daddy, has a sweet-tooth like her mom, and farts like a grown man.

So here’s the thing with communication.  For several months (or years, for some), kids know exactly what they want but they rely on about 3 choice noises to express themselves.  Though different, each of these noises has equal potential to make a mother’s head explode.  We repeat over and over, “What do you want, child?!  Use your words!”  But what we should be saying is, “Use MY words!  Your words are insufficient and hurt my brain!”  Even though I have two children (and have therefore been through this before) it is amazing how many things about Eliott’s verbal development I have forgotten.  Though I was very keen about keeping my high school classes up to date on the different parts-of-speech she was mastering (because they were not), I’m pretty sure I blocked out the transition from noise, noise, noise, to… WORDS.

All of a sudden, Carter decides to start talking.  And, now I live in The Busy World of Richard Scary.  This girl is verbally labeling everything, and don’t get me wrong, I live with her, but even I have a hard time understanding half of what she’s trying to say.  Eliott is the best interpreter of Carterese, but with this new surge in vocabulary, we’re all having a hard time keeping up.  And when I say the girl is relentless, what I mean is that she will repeat something like a scratched CD (absolutely no change in inflection or volume whatsoever, and no chance of growing tired before I do) until I decipher the word correctly and repeat it back to her.  Sometimes, even then, she continues repeating it out of what I can only imagine is a new found sense of pride and power.

A few nights ago John and I were on a semi-date (got rid of Eliott for free at church but they wouldn’t take kids under 3) with Carter.  From the back seat of the car she was pointing up and to the right and repeating “chis.”  So begins the guessing game (which is much more difficult from the front seat of the car, thus eliminating context clues).  John and I tag teamed her for about 4 straight minutes:

Chis
This?
Nope.  Chis.
Cheese?
Nope.  Chis.
What are you saying, Carter?
Chis.
Where?
Chis.
This?
Nope.
Cheese?
Nope.
Window?
Nope. (Now she’s smiling, I think we’re getting closer.)
Drink?
Nope.
These?
Nope.

CHEES!  CHEES! Chees-chees-CHEES! (Waving arms toward the window.)
Tree?
CHIS!
Oh.  Trees!  Yes, Carter.  Trees, those are trees.  Good girl.

(Carter starts clapping.)

I believe that now that she’s overcome the fear of being misunderstood, she’s trying to make up for lost time.  I cannot get the girl to shut up.  Even when it comes to this (most often in the car or the high chair): “Oh-KAY!  Enough!  Carter.  Enough.  It is time for you to hush,” she begins repeating, “Hussshhh, hush.  Hush.  Hush.  Shhhhhh, sh.  Hush.  Hush.  Hussshh.  Hush.”  At this point I’m either flooring it and looking for a cliff or slamming my head in the refrigerator door.

The best news in all of this, is that everyone gets to look forward to the imminent Carter Status Updates, which are just around the corner.  If child #1 thinks she hears donuts and smells stop signs, I cannot wait to see what child #2 has in store.

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