Mom Says, Toddler Hears

Toddlers. They are no longer babies, yet they are not quite big kids. Although they can’t properly produce all the sounds of their parents’ language, they understand simple commands and sometimes try to offer their own one- or two-syllable responses. Judging by the way my 16-month-old son responds to what I tell him, I am guessing there is a language-garbling wave length that often intercepts my words. Here are a few examples of what gets lost in daily translation.

Mom says “Let’s read a book.”
Toddler hears “Turn the pages back and forth with no apparent order or reason. Stop periodically to chew on corners, then screech and throw the book on the floor.”

Mom says “Let’s go change your diaper.”
Toddler hears “RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!!!”

Mom says “Don’t step in the dust pile.”
Toddler hears “Redistribute the dirt and debris to all corners of the kitchen. Work quickly, because she has a broom.”

Mom says “Where’s your nose?”
Toddler points to his nose.
Mom says “Where your belly?”
Toddler points to his nose.
Mom says “Where’s your daddy?”
Toddler points to his nose.
Mom says “Where’s your white stretch limo with all-leather interior, chrome wheels and a driver named Hugo?”
Toddler points to his nose.

Mom says “Here’s your dinner, yummy yum!”
Toddler hears “Relieve this tray of its contents by flinging handfuls of food to the floor with much more force than necessary.”

Mom says “Please put this empty snack wrapper into the garbage can.”
Toddler hears “From now on, please put any object you’d like – including the phone and Mom’s credit card – into the garbage can.”

Mom says “Here, play with your father while I make dinner.”
Toddler hears “Cry and wrap your arms tightly around Mommy’s neck. If an outside pair of arms tries to forcibly remove you, cling like a spider monkey with all appendages.”

Mom says “Do you want to go outside?”
Toddler hears “Quick, run outside in the snow wearing nothing but a pair of socks and a diaper!”

Mom says “Don’t eat the Play-Doh.”
Toddler hears “Eat all the Play-Doh.”

Mom says “The house is quiet. This seems like a good time to make a phone call.”
Toddler hears “Scream, cry, whine and wrap your arms around Mom’s leg until she picks you up out of desperation. Then reach for the phone and scream from the bottom of your soul when she doesn’t let you grab it. When she gives up and ends the call with her best friend that she hasn’t talked to in two months, resume playing quietly.”

Mom says “Can Mommy have a hug?”
Toddler hears “Wrap your arms around Mommy’s neck and lay your head on her shoulder. Smile and coo when she wraps her arms around your little body and lays her cheek on your fuzzy little head.”

There are some things that tiny humans instinctively understand, even without a firm grasp on spoken language.


3 thoughts on “Mom Says, Toddler Hears

Add yours

  1. Jolyn… You are truly gifted! Your writings touch a persons heart so deeply… You amaze me always🙌🏻

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