The Toddler Dictionary
By: Rebekah Hunter Scott, Writer & Author of “Motherhood Is Easy”
Your child is finally using her words! Yay! The months of interpreting her various cries is finally over! Now she can tell you in plain English what she really wants.
Um…not quite. Just because she’s speaking in complete sentences doesn’t mean she’ll say exactly how she feels. Sometimes she’ll tell you the complete opposite. Sometimes she’ll revert back to her pre-language grunts. So to make life a bit easier during this new stage, here’s a fun guide to some of your child’s favorite phrases.
“I have to go pee-pee!”
Translation: I really had to go pee-pee about twenty minutes ago but ignored the crushing pressure on my bladder and kept working on stuffing my Little People figurine into a box of wipes. Now, however, I have to go pee-pee so badly that if I don’t relieve myself like Right This Second, you’re going to need to call in a HazMat Team.
Translation: Um, Mom…remember how you said if I kept throwing the bouncy ball I insisted you purchase from Target’s gumball machine at the beautifully framed picture of Grandma and me, I would break it? Well, you’re not gonna believe this, but you were right. Whoops.
“That tastes yucky.”
Translation: It isn’t your cooking, Mom, it’s me. It’s the fact that I’m two and have the palate of an earthworm and anything you serve me that’s not neon in color or baked in the shape of a circus animal just isn’t gonna cut it. So let’s stop kidding ourselves here; just make with the Toy Story Mac&Cheese. Pronto.
“I’m not tired.”
Translation: I am so utterly exhausted right now that it’s taking me all of my strength just to form my lips around that phrase. But I know something unbelievably cool is going to happen the instant I close my eyes, so I’m going to ask you to read The Little Engine That Could eight times in a row and then sing me, oh, about a dozen night-night songs and then I might think about going to sleep. But be prepared for a few midnight visits from me. Just, you know…throwing that out there.
“I don’t know.”
Translation 1: I really don’t know—what do you want from me? I’m only two!
Translation 2: I do know, but I’m going to make you jump through a series of speculative hoops before you guess the correct answer, and even then I likely still won’t give you the satisfaction of letting you know you’re right.
Translation 3: I just got caught in a lie, but I’m going to plead ignorant here because I want to avoid a time-out.
Translation 4: I’m tired.
And let’s face it, as mommies, we can’t always say exactly what we mean either:
“Let Mommy think for a minute.”
Translation: Mommy is about half-a-millisecond from losing her mind, and if you keep hounding her about why you need to clean up your toys, stop jumping on your baby sister or pee-pee in the potty instead of in a corner of the living room, Mommy is going to lock herself in her closet with a box of wine and you little ankle-biters are on your own until Daddy gets home.
“I have no idea where your Stinky The Garbage Truck toy is.”
Translation: I know exactly where your Stinky The Garbage Truck toy is, but I have no intention of telling you because that is the most annoying toy on the planet and I plan on throwing it in the neighbor’s outdoor trashcan the minute you fall asleep tonight. Sorry, honey—I know you think it’s hilarious when it eats your Hot Wheels cars and then poops them out, but I don’t think I can take any more of his crude jokes delivered in that 120-decibal Brooklyn accent. Maybe next time Daddy wants to bring you home a toy he will consult me first.
“Thunderstorms are nothing to be afraid of.”
Translation: Who am I kidding? I myself was terrified of thunder and lightning until I was about 25, probably because of that scene in Poltergeist where the tree crashes through the kid’s window and tries to eat him. Which is why you aren’t allowed to watch anything scary until you’re in college. Now go to sleep.
“Go back to bed. Mommy and Daddy were just..hugging.”
Translation: Holy crap, I cannot believe you just walked in on us. Wow. Can we say scarred for life? Did you see anything? Anything at all? Guess Daddy and I need to start locking our door, or at least building a pyramid of drinking glasses in front of it—anything to alert us that we are about to have a pint-sized audience watching us try out the Reverse Cowgirl.
Related: Winning the Clothes War