Who Am I to You?

I think about language a little differently now that I’m part of the process of teaching one to a tiny human. My original plan was to always speak to Noodle in normal English. I figured I could show my love without cooing or putting ‘-ie’ sounds at the end of every word. I had this idea that infantilizing my speech would stunt the baby’s verbal development, forcing me to retrain her to speak ‘properly’ later on.

So you’re a linguist now? Got it.

Of course, when Noodle arrived I learned it’s basically impossible to speak to a child under a certain age without trying to sound cutsie. Something in my brain absolutely demands that I squeak and gasp at her. And rather than teaching her to call me Dad from minute one, I find I’d much prefer she call me Daddy forever.

You’re just a big softie.

But other questions about how to teach Noodle come up. This morning I found myself wondering if I should be referring to myself in the third person with her. “Yep. That’s Daddy’s ear. Please let go. It hurts when you–OW!”

At first I thought I was teaching her that everyone speaks in the third person. But then I thought that could be a necessary first step, because what I’m really doing is teaching her my name. If always use the first person with her, will she think I = Daddy? Then I realized she was about to climb into the trash can and had to stop thinking about language for a bit.

You really have no idea what you’re doing, do you?


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