Toddler Vocabulary: Riddle Me This

When my son was younger, I longed for the day when he’d be able to talk, just so it wouldn’t be a guessing game every time he wanted something. Now that he can tell us whether he’s hungry, thirsty, wants to play ball or take a bath, wants something specific to eat, etc., it’s a lot easier to respond (even if it’s to tell him that no, he can’t have any pie because he refused to eat dinner).

Most of the time.

There are still a lot of things he understands but can’t say, so he tries to get the idea across some other way. Instead of 20 questions, it becomes a riddle game.

As an example: Last night he kept saying “pee.” This variously means “piece” (either as an observation or a request), “please” (though he usually signs that still), or, well, pee. After ruling out the obvious, we couldn’t figure out what he was trying to ask for or comment on until I realized he was always saying it while pointing at, looking at, or touching my desk, where I had set a roll of tape that I’d let him play with pieces of the other day…and made the connection with the other random comment he’d been pulling out every few minutes: pointing to a half-healed scrape on his foot from last week and saying “Ow.”

He wanted a new band-aid for the scrape: A piece of something like the tape on my desk for the owie on his foot.

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