About a month ago, I was walking Seabass around the neighborhood in his stroller when he busted out with his standard “get-me-out-of-this-thing-I’m-bored” cry. You know the one.
But on this particular occasion, in the middle of an especially baleful howl, Seabass started to giggle, even as the tears rolled down his cheeks. I looked down. “Are you…are you laughing?” I asked, bewildered at my child’s remarkable ability to swing from agony to ecstasy in the blink of an eye. And indeed, he was laughing. I couldn’t figure out what was so funny until I realized a dog was barking down the block. He was laughing at the dog barking. From then on, whenever Seabass heard so much as a “woof” from across town, a little smile lit up his giant face.
I bring this up because I recently discovered that I could woof and have the same effect on him. So now I bark whenever Seabass is fussy, whether he’s on the changing table, playing in the bath, or in the stroller for a walk. In public. This makes for a very strange sight, as you may well imagine.
Jake, I’m pretty sure, does not approve. He thinks I’m stooping too low – in other words, acting like a lunatic – to keep the baby happy. In fact, in our blissful, adult-speech pre-Seabass days, Jake insisted that when we had children, we would never use baby talk to communicate. “None of this ‘poopoo’ and ‘peepee’ nonsense,” he declared. “It will only be ‘feces’ and ‘urine.’ I can’t stand all that oogly-boogly baby talk. Who’s with me?!?”
Little did he know he was directing these edicts toward the most oogly-boogly baby-talking weirdo on the face of our planet. I simply cannot resist. When I talk to Seabass, every noun is followed by a suffix of -ies, as in “shoes-ies,” “kiss-ies,” and “blanket-sies.” It’s totally obnoxious, I know, but I really can’t help it. Seabass’ cuteness draws this behavior out of me, and the cuter he becomes, the less power I have to control myself.
Fortunately, science backs me up. According to the infallible wisdom-trove that is Wikipedia, a number of reputable researchers believe that “baby talk contributes to mental development, as it helps teach the child the basic function and structure of language.” In fact, there are even scientific names – and acronyms! – for baby talk, including infant-directed speech (IDS) and child-directed speech (CDS). (There is also something called pet-directed speech [PDS], which, unfortunately for Murphy, doesn’t get used too much around here anymore.)
Okay, so all of this is really fascinating. However, what I really want to know is whether I get to talk about farting and butts as much as I do when Seabass is old enough to understand what I’m saying. Because I LOVE talking about farting and butts. LOVE might not even be a strong enough word for the extremity of emotion I feel. The same stupid fart joke can be told 200 times and I’ll still be giggling because you said fart. And you know what? I’ll stop laughing when it’s no longer funny. That’s just how I roll.
But enough outta me. Does baby talk pour out of you or does it make you bristle? And for you parents further down the road, do you refrain from talking about poo and butts, or do you let it all hang out around your kids?