Two of my favorite pastimes are analyzing language development and watching children developing language.
Eons ago when I was a babysitter I sat for one little girl who insisted on calling the sofa the “dam couch. I assumed her father had a more colorful vocabulary than he used on the neighborhood children, and that Gwen had picked up the term (which in those days was not used in polite society) from him. I was wrong.
One day I heard Gwen’s dad tell her to sit on the davenport, and within seconds her mom ordered her to sit on the couch. Gwen dutifully put those two terms together and sat on the “dam couch.”
When our children were little there were a lot of cop shows on television and we watched them. On those shows the cope always announced when catching the crook, “You’re under arrest.”
The kids frequently played cops and robbers, so it shouldn’t have been a surprise when one of our younger ones challenged an older brother, “You can’t run away! I under arrested you!”
During that same era, I was always telling the kids, “Behave yourself!” One day I was scolding one of them, but he must not have believed he was doing anything wrong. When I ordered him to behave he wailed, “But I am being have!”
I remember playing building blocks with a pretty little girl. As the tower we were making got higher I kept warning her “It’s going to fall.” When the tower toppled, she looked at me with sparkling eyes and said ”I falled it!”
Not too long ago 6-year-old Paul was at our house with his baby-sitter. He was telling me—very dramatically—about a really bad thunderstorm he had experienced. With his eyes wide, he described the roar of the thunder and the crack of the lightning.
“Wow, Paul, when did that happen? I asked. He regarded me with disbelief as he said, “Why that was just yester night!”
A youngster visiting us listened attentively as the adults discussed various examples of ESP.
Enthusiastically he jumped into the discussion, telling us about predictions he had made about happenings in his own family. “They all came true,” he told us proudly. “I guess I must be a psychopath!”
When “Eternal China” was at the Dayton Art Institute, we decided to go see it with four-year-old grandaughter Laura’s family. Her mom called Dayton to get tickets and time information. She called me to report, “Adults are ten dollars, seniors and kids are seven, and Laura is free.”
In the background I heard Laura’s voice correcting her mom. “No, Mom, I’m 4!”
EDITOR’S NOTE: This column was first published in the Greenville Advocate on June 24, 1998.
Kathleen Floyd is a volunteer citizen columnist, who serves The Daily Advocate readers weekly with her column Back Around the House II. She can be reached at email@example.com. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.