Toddler Tales: Magic wordsD with two of her new words, "Apple" and "Nana"


Diana, being the child of a New Yorker, is in possession of an above-average amount of natural savviness. Or so I like to think.

Whether out of necessity or simply to sleaze a few more smiles and rounds of applause out of people, she's recently decided that looking cute is only part of a toddler's appeal, and that saying cute things is even better.

D has really come along in terms of her vocabulary in the past couple of weeks (names of friends and relatives are the newest addition to her repertoire). But Diana still has a long way to go until she can find the exact word to express what she's feeling at any given moment and make herself understood, so she's started to economise by imbuing most words with multiple meanings.

And I have a new feather to add to my cap: Interpreter of toddler talk.

I'm not just referring to "mummy" anymore – although D still employs that term to mean anything from "Hello, mum!" to "Hand over that milk now, servant (or I will cut you)!"

Coincidentally - or not, as I'm realising - D's new word for milk, which used to be "bot-bot," is now "ma."

Another word D uses with increasing frequency is "Bye," usually when someone is leaving. Except yesterday, she finished her water and started sobbing "Ba bye, ba bye" and I realised that "bye" also means "finished" or "gone." Unless she has somehow unearthed my 'N SYNC CD from my teenage years and is just humming the chorus, in which case, I want it back, D.

"Bye" can also mean: "I command that you disappear instantly." So when she screams "Ba!" at her ball in the park, throws it away from her and starts hurtling off in the opposite direction, D has announced that the time for ball games is over.

When she yells "Shoo" at you, it's not because she necessarily wants you to put her shoes on, although she doesn't mind if you do. "Shoo" is the command D issues when she wants to be taken outdoors, even though she can also say "walk" ("Waa").

The latter is used when there's more urgency involved, so when she stomped over to me at 8pm one evening, threw her jacket on my lap, and screamed "Waa!" I knew she meant business. And, because my life is ruled by a tiny person and her even tinier, four-legged sidekick, off we went (my rationale is that with summer approaching, the ever-expanding Bolshy can use as many walks as he can get).

D also knows the name of two fruits, "Apple" and banana – "Nana," according to D. She basically calls every food and most objects "Apple," while her nappy is called "Nana" (I'm assuming that's because it's the only word that starts with "N" that she knows). "Apple" is probably D's most impressive word because she says it perfectly and she says it often, which makes me look like I have a super-health conscious child.

D has also stopped employing the word "dog," full stop, despite it being one of her earlier words, and now refers to all dogs we see as "Bolshy" (she learned to say his full name a few weeks ago).


I'm doing nothing to stop her – despite the implications for D's vocabulary. I couldn't be prouder that Bolshy's getting the recognition he deserves.