Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A foreigner in my own kitchen

If you're looking for the most recent writing workshop post, you will understand why I linked to the wrong post when you read it here.

X holds up his arms for me to pick him up. He then points imperiously toward the kitchen cabinet.

It's time for a rousing game of "Guess what X wants?"


I open the door. I see a bag of goldfish crackers and hold it up to him. He takes a shot at it, knocking it out of my hands and onto the floor. Clearly it was not what he had in mind.

He points again. 


Ba? Could "ba" be a box of raisins?

Wrong again.

"BA! BA!"

Now he's getting pissed. I mean, CLEARLY he's telling me what he wants, and I'm just too stupid to figure it out.

I'm getting frantic. He's getting red-faced. A storm is a-brewin'.

Wheat crackers? Veggie sticks? Pretzels? Potato chips? Tin foil? What? Yes? Tin foil?!?!

No. You can't eat that.


We're both in tears at this point.

Because I have no freaking idea what he wants. I don't understand "ba." I don't get "Uh." 

Clearly, I don't speak his language. But I should. I should.

He's my baby. We should have this down, shouldn't we? Instead, I need a Rosetta Stone course in Toddlerese. 

He is now sitting on the kitchen floor, screaming and kicking his legs. 

I walk away. He follows. Screaming. Tears. Snot. He's reaching for me. I pick him up.

We start again. 

"Ba! Ba!"

I frantically scan the contents of the cabinet once again.

Um.. Cookie?

He vigorously nods his head, as if to say, "Yes! Finally, you moron! Like, duh!"

Duh, indeed.

I'm learning.

This post was part of Mama Kat's writing workshop. The prompt was "Describe a time when you had difficulty communicating with someone who speaks a different language than you."

Mama's Losin' It


Mama Kat said...

Yes! I've HAD that conversation!! Or my personal favorite, the "I want up *scream* put me down *scream* why'd you put me down I want up *scream* I hate you put me down *scream*" and so on and so forth. THAT conversation is SUPER fun!

Corinne said...

Are you in my house??? That happens at least five times a day with each child :)
So frustrating in the moment though... especially when there's the language barrier!

Shanda said...

This post made me laugh...I remember the days of feeling utterly exhausted from trying to figure out what my babies wanted!

I'm a full-time mummy said...

Well at least he nods! :P

My 15mths old toddler does that too! He went 'there there there' pointing to the things he wanted, then uses his hand to swat off the things we passed to him (which clearly are not the things he wanted) until we finally managed to get what he wanted and he will keep quiet and go on staring at what he wanted... ;p

Kisha said...

What a brilliant take on the prompt! Toddlerese is indeed quite the foreign language-love it!

Erin said...

Oh I KNOW that feeling. My 3 year old talks up a storm but my 21 month old...4 words...that's it! It's a constant game!

Kimmy said...

LOL!!! Oh yes...the joys of mommy-hood! Yes, indeed....I have had those moments. Not fun either. :/

Great story!! Stopping by from Mama Kat's!

Tonya said...

Found you on Mama Kat's. I participated this week too, but for Prompt #2.

Love this post! Love it, love it, love and can identify completely!

Toddlerese has to be harder to learn that Chinese. My 11 month old actually claps now when I "get" what he is "talking" about.

I think you'll giggle if you visit my blog. All I have to say is great minds.... :)

Letters For Lucas

Maureen said...

Hahaha I can so relate to this! Don't you wish they come with a dictionary too besides that mysterious missing manual? :D

Visiting from Mama Kat's. :)

parentingBYdummies said...

ALWAYS starts with the cookie first. It's what most of us want anyway, right?

Life with Kaishon said...

My baby is ten and can use words and I STILL have no idea what he wants : )

Anonymous said...

I love it. Well written. I live in a foreign country and have had countless interactions with people I couldn't understand, but the ones with my kids are still the most frustrating.

Anonymous said...

so far of all the stages, the round the clock feeding, the present potty training, the crawling and getting into everything, the time before they have words has to be the worst!!!

Anonymous said...

Okay...I only just now realized that our babies have the same name!! How old is he? My Xander is 15 months and yes I know JUST WHAT you speak of. My youngest is very different than the oldest and his frustration at his inability to full communicate is WAY more vocal. Drives me bananas and sends me into laughing hysterics at the same time.

Tom and Karen Mortensen said...

Cute story-well maybe not at the time. Glad you figured it out.

CaJoh said...

I love the Rosetta Stone line— that's the second time this week I heard that phrase. Never thought of it being so hard to figure out (it's not like you've known them all your life).

The best of skill in learning toddlerese,

cheri said...

i'm quickly learning that language. seems that you learn a lot when screaming is half of it...

wandering in from the workshop :)

Salt said...

I'm hoping that by the time I'm a mom they invent the toddler Rosetta Stone. I don't know how moms do it!

Aging Mommy said...

What a GREAT post given the story writing title you chose! I thought when my daughter started talking more life would get easier on the communication front, and it did, I now know exactly what she wants. Problem is, when I say she can't have goldfish for breakfast we still get the meltdown....:-)

KLZ said...

I thought the answer was always cookie. At least, it is for my husband.

kris said...

There will continue to be misunderstandings. My 8 year old daughter told me the other day that I looked as "old as Christina Aguilera." Which I took to be a huge compliment as Ms. Aguilera is QUITE a bit younger than I am.

But what she meant was that Christina was looking very old and haggard in the grocery-store tabloid cover.

And that SHE looked as old as I do.



Oh he's lucky you tough it out with him!!
My favourites are:
Screaming and squiggling in the highchair,

Us: "Do you want down?"

Every SINGLE time: "NO! No! NO!"

She wants down like nobodies business, but why she finds that question so offensive, we will never know.

And first thing in the morning every single day, pointing ecstatically to all the pictures on her bedroom wall and declaring


Does she want a cracker? No. Does she love her pictures? Yes. Maybe she is saying she loves them as much as she love crackers?

Cara Mamma said...

I still feel like I have similar conversations, but with real words, with my five and a half year old! Too funny!

Kathy G said...

I had those moments of just crying with my child because I did not know what else to do, glad x finally got it and you will never forget it.

Anonymous said...

Stopping by from Mama Kat's. Oh, yes. How well I remember toddler speak. It can be very frustrating when they CLEARLY know what they want but you just can't quite get it! LOVE IT!

dusty earth mother said...

That was hilarious and very well told; so well told, in fact, that I was feeling stressed while I read it!

Stopping by from MamaKat's...

Poppy said...

Don't you just love it when someone is looking at you, their mother, to translate and you have no clue what they are saying!?!

Cheryl said...

I am SO glad I'm not alone. My first child was off-the-charts advanced verbally and was in two-word sentences by 15 months. My second was severely speech delayed. So I don't even know what normal is. To which I say, "Ba!" Oh - the kid can say "umbrella" but not cracker. The eff??

Angie said...

Oh wow, if you could decipher toddlerease, you'd make a mint! I've had that conversation, I've seen other mommies have that conversation! You are so right! This is why baby sign language has taken off. Of course, I didn't have the energy left over to do any of that.

My kids used twinspeak (made up language of their own) as well. It was CRAZY until they learned to talk. And now that they're three and a half, we STILL have days like the one you described!

Love it!

Aimee @ Ain't Yo Mama's Blog said...

My kid is 2.5 and we still have those conversations! I'm still learning his language, because it's clearly not English. The word "Baba" means cereal. The word "lala" means "Olivia" and so forth.

And G-d help me if I don't understand.


Stef said...

Ahhhh yes. That is SO frustrating. We are pretty luck. My Hubs is deaf and I am an interpreter so we have had the advantage of our children signing which seems to help out some. Except with my last one...he prefers the point and scream method. VERY frustrating!!
Good luck with that one!!

Related Posts with Thumbnails