Category Archives: talking

Making conversation

            As you know, I have two children.  Popular lore has it that usually one child is more talkative than the other.  The theory goes that there is only so much air time, and if you have one child who rarely pauses for breath, the other child cannot get a word in edgewise.

            Would that this were true.

            In my house, what happens is that the child who starts a millisecond later simply talks louder, so as to be heard over his brother.  The first speaker, to ensure that we can still hear him, raises his volume a bit more.  Which means that the second child needs to speak up, so that we can hear him, of course.

            Somehow, I got myself two talkers.  (Those of you who know me IRL can stop laughing and muttering something about apples and their proximity to trees.)  Zachary was a late talker, mostly because he kept the words to himself till he busted out in full sentences a few months before his second birthday.  However, he has long since made up for lost time, and his grandfather has been heard to joke that you could get him into the zoo for free (due to his small size) if he would only keep his mouth shut.  The child’s proper use of the subjunctive tense gives him away every time.

            Benjamin started talking before he had words.  And, unlike his brother, he does not learn first and do later.  Learning and doing are the same thing for him.  So he likes to practice his words.  All the time.  All the freakin’ time.  And, he is a pretty advanced little talker, I must say.  Most toddlers seem to like nouns and verbs, but he goes for all parts of speech, delving into modifiers and states of being.  Sometime last month, he started putting two words together, starting with “Daddy work.”  It has escalated, and yesterday he informed me that he wanted to push the doll in the stroller by commanding, “baby sit.”  (He likes to talk, but he mostly likes to boss.)

            Sometimes, though Benjamin gets things a little confused. 

            He likes little action figure dolls.  The dinosaurs he calls “Ra-ra-roar.”  The little plastic animals he calls “a-me,” then identifies by name or sound (although lately they have all inexplicably started “baaa-ing”).  And then there are the little plastic people.  One came with his fire truck, and he loved the fire truck and only liked Fireman Sam because he fits behind the wheel of the truck.  One day, however, he realized that the little doll was where it is at, and he started calling him “Sam.”

            This was awfully cute, and for awhile we were happy to fetch him Sam every time he asked for it.  Until we realized he was not always asking for Sam.  “Sam” appears to be the word he uses to refer to all little toy men.  Firemen, Little People mechanics, wooden dolls from the doll’s house, and the magnetic knight who lives on the refrigerator and comes with a whole wardrobe of magnetic clothing.  All “Sam.”

            “Actually, Ben, that’s a knight,” I told him. 

He must not have believed me, because he insisted, “Sam.”

“No,” his brother told him.  “Knight.”  Ben looked at me.

“He’s right, honey.  That’s a knight.”  Oh, Benjamin’s little face seemed to say.  I get it. 

“Knight Sam,” he announced.