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Matthew's Language and Speech

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It’s been a while since my last Matthew blog. I have been very busy, but it’s time I do another. Matthew has become a talking machine. From being a quiet little child – so quiet we actually were worried about his language development – to now where you can’t get him to be quiet for a moment. His vocabulary keeps increasing by the day. Sometimes my wife and I wonder where the heck he picked up that word, nothing outrageous or scandalous, but just a word we don’t normally use. I wish I could capture in writing every single word, and I really wish we could record him. That toddler voice is so precious. I know he needs to outgrow it, but it just seems to resonate within me like a nicely tuned instrument. His words seem to come in three categories: words he articulates nicely, words he articulates with a toddler “accent,” which for the most part are comprehensible, and words which seem to come from a completely different language, a language that is no earthly language I’ve ever heard, “English”(I suppose) from an unnamed continent.

My worries over his language lag stopped around Thanksgiving when Matthew said his first three syllable word. What you may ask was his first three syllable word? In typical Matthew swagger he walks up to me and takes out of his mouth a little white stick with a candy on the tip and says, “lol-li-pop.” Lollipop. I had to do a double take. He didn’t just say it as you and I would. He emphasized the last syllable as if that last syllable contained all the energy of the noun: lol-li-POP!

And then he started saying simple sentences such as “I like.” He says that with a smile. Or if he bursts into a run he says, “I’m running.” The best is when he says, “I’m naked again.” He says that when I take his clothes off for a bath. “You’re naked again,” I say as I’m undressing him on my bed, and he responds, “I’m naked again.” With that he usually climbs down off the bed and starts buff nude sprinting across the upstairs. “I’m naked again, I’m running, I’m naked again, I’m running.” All I can say is I’m raising a little streaker. This unfortunately has become a repeated game he likes to play. He runs naked from the master bedroom to his bedroom and hides behind a chair. So I come in after him and pretend I don’t see him. He hides in the same exact place every time.
“Where’s Matthew?”
“Mat-pew gone!” a squeaky voice says.
“Oh my God, Matthew’s gone. Where did he go? What am I going to do now? Matthew’s gone!”
“Gone, gone, gone!”
After pretending to look for him behind the crib, behind the window shades, inside the closet, inside his toy chest, and with each unsuccessful search hearing him rattle off a giggle, I finally close in on him behind the chair. “There he is,” I say, and then he giggles with “Mat-pew back.”

We also have conversations. I do love our conversations. “What did you do today,” I say when I come home from work.
“Cwying,” he says forlornly.
“Crying? Why? What happened?”
“Aye fell.”
“You fell?”
“Yessss.” He over articulates the end sound in yes.
“Did you get hurt?”
“Boo boos. Boo boos.”
“Boo boos? Where?”
“Boo boos leg.” or sometimes, “Boo boos tchin.”

And then when I’m explaining something, he strangely starts repeating the last word of my sentences. He might bring over one of his toys that aren’t functioning. “It doesn’t run because we need to change the battery,” I say.
“Battawee,” he echoes.
“Let’s get the screwdriver to open it.”
“Open et.” Then he clings to my arm looking.
“See. We have to unscrew and open the door.”
“We take the old one out.”
“We put the new one in.”
“New in.”
“And we close it back up.”
“Quose back up.”
I guess he’s learning words this way.

One of the more disagreeable speech habits Matthew has is his frequent use of the word “no.” When you ask him to do something, his first response quite often is no, whether he means it or not. “Let’s go eat dinner now,” I might say. “No,” he’ll respond. But he’s already on his way as he’s saying the word.
“Let’s read your fire engine book.”
“Your Good Dog Carl book?”
“No. No, no, no.”
“It’s time to take a bath.”
“No.” And then he’ll ponder for a second. “Naked again.”
“Time to kiss mommy goodnight.”
“No-aaaah,” he’ll say sophisticated like.
“It’s time for bed.”
That’s when he really barks out a “NOOOO.”
“Don’t tell me no. You do that again and you’ll get punished. Into your pajamas.”
“Nooo,” he says elongating the vowel while transforming the no into a crying wail. “Aye punished,” he’ll say in between sobs. “Aye punished.” “You’re not punished, not yet, so let’s go.” And he comes along.

Another word he uses a lot is “more.” When he likes something you’ve given him, he’ll come back with a “more.” Or even when we’re driving and he sees a bus. “Bus,” he’ll call out from the rear. He has affection for buses and he watches carefully at the traffic.
“That’s a little bus,” I say.
“Car-os.” We have an inside thing where all bus drivers are named Carlos. It’s from one of his kiddy songs.
“Yes, Carlos. He’s got a hat on. Say bye bye”
“Bye bye.” When the bus passes, Matthew says “more.”
“More?” I can’t make another bus come.”
“More, he demands. “More, more, more”

But I have to admit, he’s really learned to be polite, at least when he’s well rested. “Dank you,” he says every time you give him something. We’ve had people who hardly know him impressed with how naturally he says “dank you.” He hasn’t gotten the complete hang of “oo el-com” but occasionally he let’s one out. He does, if you remind him, say “ha-bless you” when someone sneezes.

Which brings me to words I can’t understand. Let me preface this by saying that there are possibly more words I don’t understand than I do. Some words I get after a few repetitions by figuring out the context. Some words my wife, who seems to have a better handle at comprehending him, translates for me. But some words I go days, even weeks, before it finally dawns on me what he’s been trying to say.
“What do you want for lunch today, Matthew,” I asked one day.
“Yolees,” he repeats.
My wife raises her eyebrows at me. “Don’t you know?” she says. “It’s raviolis. It’s his favorite.”

Then there were the times sitting in the car he would say “wumperwush.” He would say it repeatedly, “wumperwush “. I turned to my wife and asked what’s he trying to say, and she shrugged not knowing. I don’t know how long that when on, weeks certainly. Finally I happened to be turning around from my driver’s seat while he said “wumperwish” and noticed his index fingers swing in unison back and forth. I then realized what he was trying to say. Windshield wipers! He wanted me to swish the windshield wipers.

I started giving him the corks from my wine bottles to play with. He liked collecting them and would hold them in his hand. He came up to us at the dinner table and asked for another. When he asked, it left my wife and me with our mouths open in shock. He didn’t pronounce that third letter, and how it came out sounded like a very vulgar word: “Co-k.” “Where did he learn that?” my wife, aghast, turned to me with an accusing look. The room seemed to hold tension for what felt like minutes. I cycled my brain to try to remember the last time I might have used that word, and I know I hadn’t in ages. I wanted to say, “I swear that didn’t come from me,” but he saved me by holding open his left hand with an old cork in it and said, “co-k.” Oh what relief on our faces that brought. And then we doubled over in laughter. “Make sure he never says that in public,” my wife says through her chortling.

There are many examples of words that I fail to understand for repeated moments. I feel so helpless when he says something and he expects me to react and I just haven’t a clue. Here’s a short list of some. “Schwacks” (tracks for a train set), “piptar” (guitar), “paxy” (foxy, his favorite stuffed animal), “eye keening” (I’m cleaning), “eye eyeting” (I’m writing), “eyesize” (exercise), “sci-tuck” (fire truck), “Um pick dar” (I’m a rock star), and one that had me going for weeks, “a-davis” (pajamas). And finally on a number of occasions he said “he shawn.”
“What?” I asked, completely at a loss and no wife around to turn to for help.
“He-shawn.” He looked at me as if I had two heads. “He-shawn he repeated.
“Schezuan?” No he couldn’t mean the Chinese region.
“He-shawn.” It was as if we were two from foreign countries from opposite sides of the earth. “He-shawn.” “He-shawn.” It’s amazing how he can just keep repeating without getting frustrated. He must think I’m a dope. Finally one day, and I don’t know how long this had been going on, I got it. “This one!” “This one.” He was pointing to something.

Then there are times when he seems so precocious. One day he bursts in through the front door from being on an excursion with his mother and declares in a voice that seems ten years older, “Daddy, I’m back,” the emphasis on “back” like he had for “pop” in lollipop. Oh, that little boy of mine.

How about some pictures from over the last few months. Here’s to lolli-POP.

And Christmas at my mother’s house.

We haven’t had much snow this winter, but we did get a few inches one day.

Ok, not sure I really look all that good here, but here’s to age and beauty together.

And finally one taken the other day, Matthew at full personality.


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  1. Buh4Bee's Avatar
    What a great blog. You can look back on this as a wonderful document marking his speech milestones. The pictures are precious!
  2. pussnboots's Avatar
    It's actually quite funny to watch daddy try to figure out what Matthew is saying at times. He'll sit there and stare at me for help and I'll tell him figure it out. Then I go on to say "what would you do if I wasn't here"? It is easier for me to understand Matthew's speech since I am with him all day.

    I do need to clarify a few words though.
    atar - guitar
    excise - excercise
    boppy - foxy
    I'm a rock dar - I'm a rock star

    I have one to add:
    Isippi - Mississippi
  3. Helga's Avatar
    what a wonderful boy you have!! he is so cute. It's a wonderful time when they start talking and you can see how fast they learn, and oh all the words you don't understand. I try to remember how my boy said things at this age cause he loves hearing about it now.
  4. qimissung's Avatar
    Oh, my sides hurt. Thank you, Virgil and pussnboots for this glimpse into Matthew's development and your lives with him.

    I don't know what I enjoyed more, Matthew's quirky toddler speech, or the story of the co*k, or pussnboots' comment on daddy's purported helplessness. Got two kids, puss?

    Anyway, the whole thing was adorable, and yes, you all will love reading over this someday when Matthew is older.

    I love little kids. Everyone should have access to one. Thanks for sharing yours.
  5. Buh4Bee's Avatar
    It's so good- your family. We love your humor and honesty! It makes me feel so much better to know there are others out there like me and my family. Blessings on all of you!
  6. Virgil's Avatar
    Thank you everyone. I'm glad you enjoyed it.
  7. prendrelemick's Avatar
    Wonderful Virgil. It's the greatest thing ever, bringing up a child.
  8. LadyLuck's Avatar
    Oh my gosh! I can't believe how big he is getting, and I was laughing out loud as I was reading this. I'm sure there are more than a few people around the office wondering what was so funny. I had to laugh at co-k He's bound to be yelling it sometime if you ever take him out somewhere nice with wine
  9. Virgil's Avatar
    Thank you Prend and Lady.

    @Prend - Absolutely. My friend says it's the hardest job you will ever love. He's right.
  10. TheFifthElement's Avatar
    It's lovely to hear how you're all getting on. It sounds like Matthew is doing just great, and he looks so happy in those pictures (as do you). Enjoy it, because they grow up really quickly. Yes, I'm sure the 'c' word will come up somewhere, or worse. I almost crashed my car once because my son was chanting 'fudder, fudder, fudder' in the back and when I asked him what he was saying he said 'Fudder. It sounds like f***er! - goodness knows where he heard that one as it's not something either my husband or I would say, but they pick these things up. In all innocence

    Thanks for sharing Virgil. A heartening blog, filled with humour. Just the thing to cheer up a Tuesday morning
  11. Virgil's Avatar
    LOL on the "fudder" Fifth. Thanks for commenting and your kind words.
  12. Morden's Avatar
    I've drifted out of touch here, Virgil, but it is great to read of how wonderfully your family is growing and getting along. Your happiness shows in your face, no matter what your misgivings about the picture. I think it is a great one! And I truly admire your ability to see life and get it down on paper for future generations.
    Just keep on doing what you are doing and you will truly be blessed.
    Most sincerely
  13. Virgil's Avatar
    Thank you for your kind words Morden. I do consider myself very blessed, more blessed than I'm worthy. Always a pleasure to see you. If you are in contact with Plain Jane, tell her about this blog. I think she would enjoy it. Many blessings to you and your family.
  14. kratsayra's Avatar
    Adorable! Those photos are too cute - I really like the first one with the lolliPOP.
  15. Virgil's Avatar
    Thank you Kratsy. Nice to see you again.
  16. plainjane's Avatar
    Hey there Virgil, what great stories, and wonderful pictures. Matthew is one lucky kid, and so are you guys. Morden is right, it's wonderful your writing all of this down for the future generations. Husband, aka Morden, told me about your blog back when he made his post, but my excuse, (and I'm sticking to it!) is that we had an out of town guest, and I simply didn't have a chance.
    I'm so happy for y'all!!
  17. Themis's Avatar
    I so love stories about Matthew! The pictures are really nice too, I particularly like the one with both you and Matthew. You look really happy.
  18. andave_ya's Avatar
    oh my lands, that is just PRECIOUS. I've been trying to stifle laughter so I don't wake up my napping roommate. I'm gonna send this to my mom - she'll LOVE this!
  19. Virgil's Avatar
    Oh I've been away a while again. I didn't realize I had more comments. Work is so overwhelming right now.

    Thank you all.

    Yes, Andy, please send it to your mother.
  20. mtpspur's Avatar
    I thought I had responded to this so here goes. Matthew is such a sweet young man. Not sure who the more blessed is--him or his parents. All the best to the three (plus your dog).
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