Friday, May 6, 2011

The power of Tronk's language - Il potere della lingua di Tronk

Tronk (the worst possible baby nickname dad could pick!) was born and from the moment he started looking at me he was communicating.  He then started telling me how happy he was through his "eh-eh-eh-eh" (the lamb's sounds) - now only used when he sees the playground swing!. Then through his "hihi hihi hihi hihi" ("gigetto/panting" sounds) - which now he only makes when dad does something silly to him like stealing his pacifier to put it in his own mouth. Tronk quickly learned how to tell me whether he was just annoyed or in pain (same sound, more decibels).

Now (at 21 month and a half), Tronk has started using words to talk to me but he does it in a strange way. He is constantly trying to imitate what I say,  to point at what he sees, to try to give it a name and to count the things he sees. The end result:

He constantly echoes what I say. At times I feel as *I* am  echoing him!  Yesterday, as soon as he saw the stroller falling down in the park, he said: "oh noooo! oh noooo!" just before I said: "oh noooo! oh noooo!" I swear, I did not mean to blandly repeat what my baby said! I was about to clarify to the woman who was standing next to me.

The other day I heard him repeating "sexy! sexy! sexy!". I wonder who said that to him! I can only think that this has something to do with what happened the day before at the Wholefoods meat counter. Naima, Tronk's little girlfriend, who was sat next to him in the store cart, while the two moms were chatting, repeatedly kissed Tronk on the mouth! Somebody must have said "sexy!". See how fast these kids learn from you?

In his attempts to communicate, there are often missing letters and wrong endings (you can watch a live demo here), a conflict between languages and counting. The end result is the ultimate in cuteness:

Me: "dai, lancia la palla" (meaning: come on, throw the ball)
William: "Mi Pa Mi Pa Pa?" (meaning: la palla e' mia, the ball is mine)
Me: "dai, William!"
William: "daignignial?"

William: "Hi? Hi?" to my Italian parents, who can't speak English
Me: "Not Hi, Ciao nonni!"
William: "Due Nonni!:
Me: "Bravo William!"

Our babysitter - today Tronk started calling her "zia Pina" (aunt Pina)! - I can't tell how happy this made her feel - recently tried to teach him how to count. He has become obsessed with it.  The only problem is that to him, for now, anything which is more than one is "due" (meaning: two). So he ends up calling almost everything he points at "due". He says "due tutu' (meaning: the three cars or trucks under the chair), due brum brum  (meaning: all the cars in the car park)", "due dada' (meaning: mom and dad)", "due acqua" (meaning: I've already had water but I want to mess with you), "du pa'!"  (Meaning:  two balls! I have had enough!). Ok, I confess, he must have heard that from me.

But recently, he started using words to give me orders and I feel I am slowly becoming his loyal servant. No kidding.

"Mamma? Acqua! Acqua! (meaning: mom, give me water)". Problem:  he asks me the same thing over and over again. I show him a missing piece of one of his puzzles after he has been drinking enough water to turn him into a camel and he goes:  "Acqua! Acqua!".  I give him the lion from his farm zoo play-set and while he is playing with it he says: "Acqua? Acqua?". He says the same thing if I put him in the bath tub while I am dripping water on his belly! Each time, the same thing happens: I pass the water bottle to him. He says "Yeah!, then he throws the bottle in the floor. No ma dico little guy, are you taking the piss?

"Mani! Mani! (meaning: I want to wash my hands!)", another Tronk like request. He asks me to wash his hands over and over again. Not when I am changing him in the bathroom but when I am in the middle of cleaning the fish that needs putting in the pan before the olive oil turns into bad fumes. How can I say no? How can I say no to: "Ciuccio? Ciuccio?", when he is looking for it in bed? And what should I say when he says "Uiva? Uiva? (meaning: give me olives) at 7:00 in the morning?

Then there is "pitta". Everything that has a "slight pizza look", in Tronk's world is  called "pitta" and it is the only food he would eat in one big bite. Don't you dare telling him a different name when you are feeding him something that looks like "pitta". If it's called "pitta", he will be done with it in minutes!

Seriously, I am glad he is finally learning to communicate. Despite the problem of having to deal with his difficult and sometimes strange requests, and my discovery that as a parent I cannot always tell the truth, unless I am prepared to give him a whole loaf of bread for lunch, I have begun to see my baby become a little person, with his own likes, his own personality. And I love it.

The other day we were at the playspace at the children's museum. Tronk was happy playing with the tiny wooden train wagons at the trains tracks. Then he saw a shopping cart. He literally jumped on the girl who was about to play with it and stole it from her. That girl, who was way older than Tronk, was NOT happy. I could tell. Few minutes later she took her revenge. I did not see exactly what happened as Tronk had just got into the room next to the one we were in. Luckily, nobody got hurt. All I know is that, all of a sudden, Tronk was crying furiously. I went to pick him up and asked him what happened. He pointed at that one girl, who was not far from him, and screamed as clearly as he could: "Bimba! Bimba!" (meaning: that bitch!).

So I have started to think that when it comes to communicating, Tronk has got the power!

When you see your child with blood all over his face - Quando vedi tuo figlio con la faccia piena di sangue

Photo of William in bed with his 5 stitches
What happened?

I was adding the last spoon of parmigiano cheese on the eggplant parmigiana I had just finished preparing for dinner that evening when William, all of a sudden, fell (long jump style), while he was running in a circle in the kitchen, causing himself a deep cut in his forehead and blood all over his face. He had hit his forehead against the lovely wooden trims of our New England house that look so much like edges of a knife and that none of us has ever noticed before!

I was so scared, especially when I saw the blood coming out of the wound. For few seconds I felt I could not move, nor scream to ask for help, like in the nightmares I used to have as a teenager. Then I was able to call John but that's about it. I don't think I was able to make any sense of what I was trying to say to him. All I remember is my desperate crying. Luckily, he was not far from home and in less than 10 minutes he was at home. As soon as I saw him I gave William to him and burst into all of the tears that I had tried to hide from William. John was able to assess the situation in 2 seconds and immediately pushed me in the car with William already in his car seat, with his face still covered in blood. We forgot to take the parmigiana out of the oven - we had to go back to take it out - and left the house open, in search of the  nearest hospital with an emergency room.

At the hospital, I was crying, while William was smiling, despite the blood still in on his face! He was just a bit upset during the stitching but mostly because of all the people around him, trying to keep him still. As soon as he was free to move, his smile was back. Everyone keeps telling me that these sort of things are not uncommon in little children but for some reason, according to my parents, nobody in our family ever got injured as toddlers. So, I  am still trying to come to terms with this accident.

When I saw my child in pain, crying inconsolably out of fear, I suddenly understood millions of women who have tried to describe this kind of pain to me in the past with little success. You cannot understand it until you feel it.

He is now back on his feet, with his five stitches on his wound, giggling and trying to run faster than ever before. And no matter what I do to slow him down, his desire is to run, run, run. Yesterday I found myself touring the neighborhood in circles to avoid having to take him home and see him run in a circle in the kitchen again!

Today, I have taped all of the colored foam sheets I have - which I originally bought for art and crafts projects - on  the dangerous corners of the kitchen and John has put the annoying gate back in between the kitchen area and the dining room. From now on he will have to be granted special access to the kitchen.

When and where is he going to fall next?