By BASSEY IKPI
When Boogie was born, I forbade (yes, FORBADE) anyone from speaking to him in baby talk. I told anyone that would listen that I wanted him to develop language and communication skills and speaking to him in baby talk would stunt his development. I had no data to back this up. I just told them I heard it on Oprah and everyone fell in line.
The truth is, I find baby talk annoying. It’s just annoying. My son is a human being; why are you talking to him like he’s a puppy? And I’m just not capable of all that cooing and “Who’s mama’s sweet baby? Who’s mama’s big boy?” I would ignore myself if I spoke like that. So from day one, whenever I was with Boogie, changing his diaper or feeding him or just holding him, I would talk to him. Not about anything specific, I would just say whatever was on my mind.
We talked a lot about Britney Spears.
While I was talking to him, I often imagined what his voice would be like. I couldn’t wait for him to start talking.
I could have waited. My son talks too much. Way too much. And I think that because of the fact that he was always spoken to in whole sentences, he went from not talking to talking—a lot—in, like, a week.
I would like it to stop.
He’s got a great grasp on English and aside from a few grammar problems—mixing up “doesn’t” and “don’t” and insisting on putting an s on the end of mine—he’s good. When I quote him on Twitter, people often think that I’m cleaning up the language or making him sound better than he is. Nope. Verbatim. The kid is a talker.
Again, how do I make it stop?
This is how a typical conversation with him begins:
Me: Yes, Baby.
Boogie: Mommy, Um.. um.. um.. how come the boy in that car isn’t waving back at me, mommy?Yes, he says my name at least three times before he even gets to what he wants. Then he begins and ends the sentence with... my name. It drives me insane.
As far as I know, he doesn’t do it with anyone else. Grandma, Grandpa, Uncle, Auntie, Jesam, Kebe, Kanke, Elmo, Barney, Scooby... whomever, they all get called once. Why do I get the multiple “mommy”?
What is that? Even when I’m staring dead at him so he knows I’m listening, he still does it.
The first time I noticed it, I thought there was something wrong with him. Is that a stutter? Is he having a seizure? Is that a stroke? What is it?! Nothing. That’s just how he talks. And once he gets started, he won’t stop. He talks to anyone about everything and anything to anybody who will listen. It’s fine at home but did the cashier at Target really need to know that I don’t make my bed, E? Did she? My mother says I was just like that when I was his age. I don’t believe her. I’m going to need to see some receipts.
Even the “Quiet Game” doesn’t work. I’ll say, “Let’s play the quiet game. Whoever stays silent the longest wins.” There’s a six-second pause before Boogie says, “I lose. Mommy, mommy, mommy...”
I’m sure there are some mothers who love the sound of their children’s voices as they frolic through a golden meadow chasing butterflies and dancing to the constant chatter. I am not that mother.
I’m gonna need him to hush at least while RuPaul’s Drag Race is on.
Um, I mean, the news...
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About our MyBrownBaby contributor:
"Bringing Up Boogie" is a new weekly feature, penned exclusively for MyBrownBaby by Bassey Ikpi, a Nigeria-born, Oklahoma-bred, PG County-fed, Brooklyn-led writer/poet/neurotic who is the single mother of an amazing man-child, Elaiwe Ikpi. She's half awesome, a quarter crazy and 1/3rd genius... the leftover bit is a caramel creme center. A strong advocate of mental health awareness, Bassey is currently working on a memoir about living with mental illness and producing Basseyworld Live, a stage show that infuses poetry and interactive panel discussions about everything from politics to pop culture. Get more Bassey at Bassey's World.
If you would like to be a featured contributor on MyBrownBaby, email your essays/ideas/blog posts/rants/musings to Denene at denenemillner at gmail dot com.