Monday, June 14, 2010

The spoken word

When Kate was  younger, I read somewhere that to help your infant's verbal development, you should talk to your baby. Like, all the time. Which wasn't natural to me. I mean, I'm not an extremely talkative person to begin with (no, seriously) but to talk without hope of response? Not really my cup of tea.

However, since I was staying home with Kate, and there weren't any caretakers trained in early childhood education around to make up for my short comings, I decided that I needed to leap outside my comfort zone, and begin a very lonely monologue during the day.

So I started talking to Kate about washing dishes. Doing laundry. How Top Chef Masters is never as good as the real thing (I don't want to watch a bunch of master chefs cook awesome things -- I want to watch hopefuls create food disasters of EPIC PROPORTIONS). Politics. The disaster in the gulf. How jeans go with anything, and a woman can never have too many shoes, no matter her age.

Over the last fourteen months it has become something of a second nature. I don't really realize I'm doing it anymore.Which is all fine and dandy, except that I realized recently that I DON'T STOP DOING IT WHEN KATE ISN'T AROUND. It has become such a subconscious practice that I do it even when I'm alone, like some stark raving lunatic who forgot her meds or escaped some high-security sanitarium a la "Shutter Island" (great movie, but I digress).

I realized this at the most inopportune time, i.e. while doing it in public. I was grocery shopping by myself (a rare occasion) and while picking out fresh produce I chatted merrily about the ripeness of this, the limited selection of that, new produce for the season, and so on. It wasn't until I caught a few people giving me sidelong glances (DON'T MAKE EYE CONTACT WITH THE LOONEY!) that I realized I was having a very inspired and detailed conversation. With MYSELF.

I froze like a deer in the headlights. My brain was scrambling about how to get out of this one with at least a shred of pride. I had a few options -- make a joke about my invisible friend, take the time to explain to random people that I was used to having my baby around or maybe just start throwing fruit to create a distraction and run for it. And in that instant, for some UNGODLY reason, my brain made the rational decision to just act like I MEANT to carry on a conversation with myself. So I just KEPT TALKING as I made a fairly leisurely getaway to the canned goods section.

It was like farting in public and then blaming it on the dog that isn't there. It was fooling NOBODY.

I walked away from the grocery store without an ounce of pride. A sensation that I am starting to become familiar with and believe intrinsically accompanies motherhood. Straight from the mortification that arises with screaming babies, bodily fluids in public and now, acts of insanity.

But its okay. Because every time Kate says a new word, points to something when I say it out loud or makes a connection between an object and a spoken word, it pays off. And once in awhile, like last week when a gentleman stopped me mid-sentence with Kate and told me I was being a "wonderful mom" for talking to her, it feels good to hear other people agree that what I do matters. And though I constantly feel like I'm bumbling around, trying to figure out this whole parenting thing... sometimes I know I'm not doing half bad.


HMills said...

I'm busting a gut here b/c I can SOOOO relate, but my problem is that I did it BEFORE I had kids - so what does that say about me? And, sadly, I think we pass it to our kids. Mine recently asked a question and I answered (naturally), which she responded with "I'm not talking to you Mommy, I'm taking to myself in my head!" My husband then said, "Oh God, it's genetic!"

Nikki - Lilybug_Designs said...

Haha! I'm glad I'm not the only crazy one in the family. ;)

Screwed Up Texan said...

When you said The Spoken Word, I immediately had thoughts of late night gospel evangelists preaching to me at my grandmother's.

avon said...

1. Hilarious, but don't think you're crazy :)
2. You watched Shutter Island?!

IzzyLizzy said...

Heather, I think genetics makes it better, then it isn't your fault!

Screwed up Texan, I'm not sure if that is a good or bad memory for you, but sorry for the mislead! :)

Ashley, Watch it. Was really, really good (although SAD). Not scary though! :)

Emily and J.B. said...

great post, liz. i do the "talk to the baby, even when he is asleep in his carrier" thing at the grocery store and get the exact same looks!!! we need to get all the sigma nu boys together with the kiddos and wives included so we can all visit!