One evening last fall, I was driving our 13, 11, and 2-year-old home from an activity and little one was cranky, tired, and in desperate need of who-knows-what…When that couldn’t be found she resorted to mumbling and sputtering every word she could think of— crying and pointing to different objects in the car.
My 11 year-old son was in the back with her trying to help but couldn’t translate her frantic rambling. After fruitless attempts to appease her with random toys, books, and crackers, he started shouting OVER her, to me, AS IF I had no idea what was going on one seat directly behind me!
“What does she want, mom? What am I supposed to give her?” he begged, desperate to end this episode. I told him, “You’re going to have to help her. She needs the words to say what she wants. So, give her words!” And as if on queue, she howled, “I NEED WOOOOORRRRRDDDDSSSS!”
We all cracked up and the tension was immediately broken by the funniest example of parroting our toddler had ever committed.
“Parroting” is what some child development specialists call this stage where toddlers partially repeat and/or imitate the words or phrases they hear. It’s one of the many ways vocabulary is developed and very early language skills are acquired.