Baby talk

One sum­mer in my teenage years, I vol­un­teered at a kinder camp1, and that filled a gap in my knowl­edge about any­one under 10. Unfortunately, that gap only spanned chil­dren between 3 and 5, and aside from that range, I knew noth­ing about kids.

So inter­act­ing with chil­dren who’ve yet learned to speak I found espe­cial­ly awk­ward. I nev­er under­stood how to talk to some­one who did­n’t seem to under­stand what I was say­ing. It was like talk­ing to a stuffed ani­mal, which I’m pret­ty sure can’t be done by any sane per­son with­out feel­ing creepy.

Rosella in the car


Not to men­tion how pho­ny it sounds. Why do peo­ple raise their voic­es, as if a child trusts them more if they sound like them2? They don’t nor­mal­ly talk like that.

Then I real­ized that I do kit­ty talk, with the boospy, and the schmoop­sy, and the pokey of the bel­ly. I talk to my cat all the time, a habit I’ve prob­a­bly picked up from liv­ing by myself for the last three years, com­bined with the fact that I’m an extreme intro­vert and stay in my house for the major­i­ty of my time.

Which is strange because Dolly does­n’t under­stand any­thing I’m say­ing (though I’m sure cats are intel­li­gent enough to evolve to talk if they believed any­thing a human had to say could be impor­tant). And this is after I wrote an entry sev­en years ago, specif­i­cal­ly about how awk­ward I found it to talk­ing to cats.

Maybe I’m com­fort­able enough with cats now to hold a con­ver­sa­tion with one. Or maybe I’m going crazy.

Rosella with tongue out


I’m get­ting more com­fort­able with kids too. Not just talk­ing to them, but the idea of hav­ing them myself, maybe because my friends are get­ting mar­ried and giv­ing birth and I’m spend­ing more time with a few adorable boys and girls. I can talk to them even though they only respond in mono­syl­la­bles.

Jodie Foster once described hav­ing chil­dren as the most cre­ative thing she’s ever done, and I com­plete­ly under­stand that now. I can’t think of any­thing more cre­ative than nur­tur­ing growth, curios­i­ty, imag­i­na­tion, and ideas in anoth­er human being. One day, I’d like to expe­ri­ence it for myself.

  1. Cause I had noth­ing bet­ter to do. Seriously. []
  2. Though it worked for Owen Meany. []


  1. I was just say­ing to some­one else who is awk­ward with kids that I well remem­ber how hap­py I was when an adult looked me in the eye and actu­al­ly spoke to me as if I were a human being instead of a dopey car­toon. Having your issues addressed as a wee one is very com­fort­ing.

    That being said, for babies, I hear it’s dif­fer­ent. I hear that they actu­al­ly have sci­en­tif­ic research that says that babies respond bet­ter to a mom (or prob­a­bly a dad as well) who speaks to them in that kind of mom­my sing-song. They like it.

    My almost-a-nephew is at the begin­ning of the using-words stage, so he bab­bles and looks very hope­ful you’ll under­stand, but I haven’t a clue. Okaaay. Awkward.

    • …I well remem­ber how hap­py I was when an adult looked me in the eye and actu­ally spoke to me as if I were a human being instead of a dopey car­toon.

      YES. I total­ly agree. It feel so much bet­ter when you’re treat­ed like an actu­al human instead of a pet when you’re a kid. Though you have to be at an age where you can rec­og­nize that kind of dif­fer­ence.

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