Baby Talk

21 05 2012

Our three sons

My wife and I were blessed with three of the greatest kids anyone could ask for. Since first meeting in high school in 1968, ours has been a storybook life. Now we have been blessed with three of the greatest grandchildren anyone could ask for. I know you’ll find this hard to believe but our three granddaughters are the sweetest, cutest and smartest children the world has seen since our kids were little boys. Now, I know some of you who have children or grandchildren of your own may take exception to that statement but then I would expect you to. That, after all, is the grandparent’s job.

Mark’s Getting Married

Well, our baby got married today so that brought all the family together, including four-month old Graecyn, the newest member of the Taylor clan. As I held her yesterday I found myself talking to her in an effort to evoke a smile or laugh. This made me think about how we speak to babies.

For some, talking to infants can be awkward. My wife has always been so good at it. She will come into the presence of a baby and will seamlessly transition into baby-speak as easily as a UN translator at a global peace conference.

Be a Man…Talk Like a Baby

In my younger days, I would feel silly and found it to be not only awkward but, at times, challenging to vocally engage an infant. As I have aged, I’m no longer concerned with image. I don’t care how silly I might sound as long as I can bring a smile to my granddaughter’s face. But guys, especially younger guys, have a persona to maintain and it’s darned near impossible to make a baby laugh when speaking in a manly way. It’s not like using your guttural manly voice to ask a buddy how much horsepower his new F-350 has or what lure he used to catch that 12 pound bass. No, you have to use your baby voice to say babyish things such as, “look at you all dressed up in your new onesie.” Or, “did you make poo-poo in your diaper?” I have never said that and I never will but I did hear a lady on a plane say it one day. That’s a story for another day. Poo-poo doesn’t even exist in my vocabulary. Still, I find myself clumsily uttering baby-speak words when speaking to my granddaughter, not because I feel silly but because I often times can’t think of anything clever to say to a person whom I know will have no intelligible response. Every statement must be animated, every question is rhetorical.

We say things to a baby which in any other conversation would be considered silly, even taboo and would probably bring a swift end to the conversation. Imagine speaking to a co-worker who says something like, “I swept wike a baby wast night…I cwied myself to sweep and wet my diaper fwee times.” You’d probably think that was funny until you realized she was serious after which, you’d make every effort not to be cornered by that co-worker at the water fountain again. But it’s okay to be silly when we talk to babies and most people, except young guys, think nothing of it.


Abbie, Graceyn and Anna

Say it Again, Sam

And did you ever notice how when we do speak to babies, we always repeat ourselves? “Are you glad to see your Nana, huh, are you glad to see your Nana?” or, “her was a purdy girl, yesh her was a purdy girl!” It’s like we think the child didn’t hear us the first time so we have to say it again to be sure they got it. Or maybe it’s because we enjoy hearing ourselves speaking baby-ese so much that we want to hear us say it again. I do not fall into either category. I do it because by repeating every other line it uses up talk time so you only need to come up with half as much stuff to say.

We also tend to answer our own questions when using baby-talk. “Did you pee-pee your bwitches? Yes you did, you pee-peed your bwitches.” Or, “are you daddy’s wittle girl? Yes you are, you’re daddy’s wittle girl.”

We never realize the exact moment at which we stop using baby talk to speak to children. It just happens. One day we’re coochy-cooing the little thumb-sucker and the next, we’re telling them to stop crying before we give them something to cry about. Or the one I like is when they are infants and we’ll compassionately say something like, “Oh, look at that sad face. That’s so pitiful.” Next thing you know it’s two years later and you’re asking her if she wants her face to freeze that way?

The fact remains, they are only young once and not for very long. Child or grandchild, put away any inhibitions and make silly talk when the little crumb-snatcher is around. They’re a lot of fun between screaming for a bottle and dooty-filled diapers.

Brian, Mark and Eric on vacation at the Air Force Academy 1991













Here’s the family (before Graceyn was born) . God has blessed us beyond measure.




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