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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