It goes without saying that no two children are the same, but the difference in language skills between Blondie and Red is striking. Red is now two and a half, and only uses basic words and points to get by. At the same age, Blondie had amassed an amazing vocabulary that astounded us and everyone she met. Around the age of two, she informed me that a toy she had was like a tuba and I wouldn’t be able to sit down on it because of the size of my arse – not her exact words, but still very descriptive for her age. She was also able to read entire children’s books back to us. She once worried me when she told me I had a lovely bum, but she later explained she meant my back, and at that age, you can forgive a few errors. It’s still a weird thing to say though…
Before I come across as sounding too smug, it’s definitely true that toddlers seem to excel at one thing and take their time learning other skills. Blondie has a hell of a memory, which makes her great at talking and reading, but it took over two years before her feet left the floor if you asked her to jump. Also, the poor girl took so long at her first sports day when balancing a beanbag on her head, I could see nervous glances from the nursery staff, who must have been considering whether it was worth packing up and returning the next morning rather than hang around.
Red by comparison is physically fearless, with legs so small and fast I’m tempted to see if it’d be worth getting her to power our electricity in some kind of hamster wheel set-up (this wouldn’t be mistreatment of a child, she’d bloody love it), but she’s been in no rush to talk much at all. We didn’t worry about this, but following Sure Start lessons to help her talking as she approached her second birthday, it became clear she was understanding more than we thought. Through asking her to point at colours and shapes, she could tell us correctly what we were asking. So why was she not saying the words? It seems to often be the case that the younger sibling of a big talker prefers to take a back seat, and I can’t blame her, as Blondie can talk for England. I wouldn’t want to compete with her.
I suspect that if Red wanted to, she could say a lot more than she lets on. A while ago I was singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star to her and without prompting she came back with “How I wonder what you are”. She immediately looked at me as if she’d been rumbled. That’s the longest sentence she’s ever said, we’re back to one or two words at a time now. And those words are mainly “yeyyow” and “purple”. She knows all the other colours, and most of them would be easier for her to say, but she has no time for them. She wants to discuss yellow and purple things, all the time. The other day she insisted every item of clothing she wore was purple, which made me wonder if she had been possessed by the spirit of Prince. We watched Sooty last week and when I asked “What’s Sooty doing?” she replied “No, yeyyo”. It’s very cute, but frustrating. Like Blondie, she’s stubborn, and you could go insane trying to make her see sense or say any other colours. We’ll just have to wait.
Recent extra additions to Red’s language include “sister” to describe Blondie, which makes her sound like some kind of sassy preacher woman, and then there’s “nom-nom” which means ‘food’. Hearing her shout Blondie to tell her to come and get her dinner with a “Sister! Nom-nom!” is ridiculously cute and makes up for “No, eugh!” every time you try to get her to eat anything remotely healthy. One word I could do without, though, is “Beedo”. Red decided that her cuddly red fish should now be called Beedo. I don’t know why and had no issue with it, until Mummy Cool pointed out it sounds like she’s saying ‘paedo’. Last week she walked behind me at the park saying it over and over again, as if she was warning other children to stay away from me.
We’re going to savour Red’s talking, or lack of, while it lasts. Because once she decides to go full-pelt and wants to be heard over her sister, there literally will not be a minute’s peace in our house.