Strange Bedfellows

When your 5-year-old has a limited vocabulary, you're thankful for full sentences about anything.

Dreena Melea Tischler April 29, 2014
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I grew up in an exceedingly polite home. No one ever spoke about any kind of bodily functions in even the most polite terms. I knew all the words but was well into my 30s before I ever said “fart” and even today am more likely to say “toot” or, in a bind, “flatulence” or passing gas. We don’t talk about vomit, and I have never once used the work p-u-k-e. And yet, I live with three little kids learning to talk, and much to my discomfort, it seems like we talk about these things all the time.

Enter The Captain. At 34 months he had a vocabulary of only a few words and one phrase– “Oh man!” He had so few words that we were terribly proud of them until one rainy day when I decided to entertain him with an episode of Dora the Explorer and realized his entire vocabulary came from that show. Now, three scant years later, he talks like a 3- or 4-year-old and wow, all the time. All those hours of speech lessons and encouragement are finally paying off!

We do spend a lot of time encouraging him to talk: “Use all of your words, please,” “Can you give me a little more, please?” and “What color of candy-we-are-using-to-bribe-you do you want, honey?”

Yet most of his talk is still on a basic level, addressing his needs and his wants with an occasional “I sorry I hit (whomever)” mixed in. If something really amazing happens at school, I’ll know it because I will get a spontaneous three word sentence about it. That’s still pretty rare, though, and most of his talking is still babbling or in response to questions.

Yesterday we were alone in the car and he was thoughtfully eating a taco while I read a book.



“You ever hiccup and “frow” up at the same time? It hurts and it kinda gross!”

“Gosh. Did that ever happen to you, honey?” stifling a laugh.

He nods. “When I a baby.”

I almost danced in the street. They all had reflux as babies. It probably feels a lot like he described. The real thrill though, was his ability to sit and think of something he’d experienced without any prompting and then relay the information to me in a way I could understand it. Totally amazing.

Helping a quiet fellow learn to express himself sure makes for some strange bedfellows, doesn’t it?

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Dreena Melea Tischler

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