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who’s talking?

Even though many months have passed since Munchkin acquired the gift of gab, we have yet to cease marveling both at how voluble he has grown and at some of the outrageous things he comes up with seemingly all the time. Usually, we are too busy laughing to write them down, and then reproach ourselves when we can’t recall what it was he had said that had amused us so.

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Perhaps it is because he goes to school and has to follow rules there, or maybe it is just the way of only-child toddlers…whatever the explanation, Munchkin has grown increasingly imperious as his vocabulary has expanded. Exhortations to “laugh, mama!” are interspersed with countless rules he insists we follow, “no talking” and “no laughing” being the most common.

Of the many “I wants” and “I needs” we hear every hour, “I want to wake up” is the funniest as it is typically delivered in a slow, weary voice when Munchkin wants to keep playing even though it is time for him to go to bed. Coupled with his tendency to insert possessive pronouns into nearly every sentence, his imperious streak is both amusing and a tad embarrassing. “I want my woman to bring the milk,” he proclaimed loudly enough for the whole plane to hear after we asked the stewardess for a cup of milk before takeoff en route to Kampala.

“Papa, no petting!” he ordered when D came downstairs one Saturday and went over to S to kiss her good morning. Yesterday he told D, “No, no coming in the kitchen, papa. It’s not allowed.” It was a new variation on a common theme of Munchkin wanting to spend his time exclusively with S. “No, papa, go away. I want my mama to get me,” is a line D hears more mornings than not. Munchkin will actually prefer to sit in his crib crying until S gets him rather than let D take him out and set him free. And if he does acquiesce, he usually insists that D stay in the room while he goes searching for his mama. “No, papa, you stay here,” he’ll say, choking back tears and pushing against D’s legs with all his might.

Our parents sometimes complain that they have a hard time understanding Munchkin over Skype because he talks so much faster now that his vocabulary has exploded and quite often he will start a sensible sentence only to veer off into a string of non-sequiturs that usually end either in fantasy or complete gibberish. On the above point, however, there is no ambiguity – Munchkin is in a serious mama phase. “I was crying because I want my mama to get me,” he explained to S this morning. “I don’t want papa to get me out of bed.”

A few days ago Munchkin discovered the shelf with our board games and D’s bird books. On the one hand, D was happy to see that Munchkin was interested in some of his own favorite hobbies. “I have a chipka, I have another chipka. I have the best chipkas,” Munchkin intoned, flipping through the bird book. Chipka is his mispronunciation of the Russian птичка (birdie).

On the other hand, we were a bit taken aback when Munchkin grabbed a deck of cards and demanded, “I need your den’gis,” (a pretty spot-on pronunciation of деньги, the Russian word for “money,” which he pluralized in English). He proceeded to fan out the cards before instructing each of us to choose one. “You got strawberries!” he exclaimed when S held up her six of hearts. “You got strawberries too, papa,” he added when D turned over another card of the same suit. Not quite ready to take up poker, but den’gi is a big improvement on den’gash, which is how he used to say the word for a long time.

As with most toddlers, Munchkin’s moments of hilarity are punctuated by fierce tantrums when he gets hangry or does not get his way, especially when we try to impose a limit on his video watching. Sometimes he is wont to throw himself on the floor, screeching like a banshee and attempting to bash his head on the tiles. We have to take the bad with the good, of course, but that is one aspect of toddlerhood we won’t miss.

Munchkin’s most oft-used phrase these days – even more frequent than “I want” – is “what’s this?” Oftentimes he’ll repeat the question regardless of the response he receives until we fire it back at him. Though S sometimes wilts under his tenacious interrogations, we are glad that Munchkin’s curiosity appears to know no bounds.

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