Learning to Talk, and Frustration


What does that mean, do you think?  Bunnies?  Bloopers? Butter?  Bowls? Bermuda?  Burps? 

Jonas knows for certain what it means, and I, to his complete frustration, don’t have a clue.  I thought it meant bowls, and offered him a pink one, then a melamine bowl with a fire truck at the bottom, then a tupperware complete with its own lid, and he pushed them all away and said, “No, no no no.” 

He repeated the word again and jabbed his finger toward the cabinet , which seems to contain bups – bups!  Bups! 

I offered him cups next, first sippy cups and then our small purple and green plastic ones.  These weren’t right, either, and he threw them to the floor, before throwing himself to the floor, heartbroken by my inability to deliver the very necessary bups. 

Over the last few days, he’s demanded bups time and again, and I’ve failed to  give them to him, time and again.  Like so many people trying to communicate across a language barrier, he thinks that if he talks louder and repeats the word over and over, I’ll eventually get it.  BUPS!  BUPPPPSSSSS!  BUPPY BUP BUPS! 

It’s incredibly frustrating, these early days of language, when he can’t quite get the word out and I can’t quite understand it; getting his insubordinate mouth and tongue to pronounce C and K and J looks like when I try (and fail) to roll my r’s.  Bups, he thinks.  Bups!  Everybody knows what bups are!  They’re bups!  I need some bups that are super buppy!  C’mon, lady, figure it out.  Bups!

Axel tries to act as translator.  When Jonas says Mama and takes my hand, Axel helpfully adds, “He needs you, Mom.”  When Jonas says, “DogGus, woof woof,” Axel says, “He’s talking about Angus.”   But Bups is one word that he didn’t learn in Jonas Language Class.  When I asked Axel what it meant, he shrugged and said, “Maybe he wants some bups, Mom.” 

“But what are they?”

“They’re bups!”

Oh, right.  Bups. 

I lost my voice yesterday, after the boys’ newest germs took up residence in my lungs, and rasped at the boys all day long.  Axel told me to talk louder while I read him One Morning in Maine, and Jonas just looked at me, his head tilted to the side, trying to figure out why I’d forgotten how to talk.  I’ve been resorting to gestures and pointing, like Jonas, to try to get my message across, grunting out single words, giving more kisses in place of good jobs and thanks.   My own (hopefully very temporary) inability to speak has made me appreciate Jonas’ frustration more –  not being able to get your message across to the people you love most is exhausting.  Alas, I still have not been able to give Jonas any bups.

Article Posted 6 years Ago

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