Have you ever seen a movie* where two or more people around the protagonist start communicating in a foreign language and then burst in to laughter? The realization that the main character isn’t in on the joke heaps coals on the fires of their mirth and the laughter is redoubled, the hero looks around, searching for some meaning in the world, for some rational explanation on which to gain purchase as the echoing cacophony of revelry builds and then the hero falls to his/her knees and pleads, “What, what is it? You win! I’ll do anything you say, just stop the laughter!” and then slumps into a pile of tears. This is how we are raising our daughter.
Granted, a second scenario is the kind of movie** where the hero will shut everyone up with a witty comeback in the language and coolly go about his/her business. In practice, though, I find it plays out to my advantage. The problem with doing this well is that I don’t speak a second language and nor does The Spouse. Actually, I speak a phrase or two in about five, but the day where I will need to greet and order beer from a succession of five different non-English speaking people and then ask them where the bathroom might be located is not a likely to present itself soon. A language we all speak if we’ve passed the fourth grade (sadly, not 1oo% of adults) is Spelling.
Spouse: “Can The Child have some C-A-N-D-Y?”
DadisthenewMom:” Is it your turn to put her to B-E-D?”
Spouse:”I think so…”
DadisthenewMom:” In that case, yes, one whole mouthful, plus whatever she can carry.”
This is a super secret form of communication to children under three. Parents can merge into a seemingly unbeatable hive mind of rules that can bar them from their favorite foodstuffs and entertainment, or enforce curfews and scheduled bathing. The spouse and I regularly use this ruse de guerre to determine if The Child can have/have more M-I-L-K at night. Sadly, it seems I’ve been committing a treacherous act: Teaching.
I’ve been pointing out to The Child that “words” are made of “letters” and I thought we were still a long way away from understanding. The other night as we were putting The Child to bed, instead of asking for milk she asked, “Daddy, can I have some PS?” She’s in on to the idea that letters (random ones, granted, but letters none the less) are another way of representing the things she wants. She pulled the second scenario movie trick on me, and I had to give in. She won this fight fair and square.
As I closed the door, she held her sippy cup and said, “PS, I love you.” There is a third type of movie*** where she was wasn’t talking to her milk (as she sees it spelled P-S), but to me.