If there’s one thing I can’t stand (and really, there’s only one; I’m just kidding about everything else that I say I can’t stand), it’s when people talk to children as if they are idiots. For purposes of the example below, I will use the word “Grown-Up” to describe the non-child, because it seems to be the word of choice among those who treat children as if they were miniature dimwits. How many times have I heard an exchange like the following that makes me see all shades of red, especially the one that corresponds with the freshly spilled blood of the baby-talker du jour.
Grown-Up: Hi-i-i-eeeee, Tommy! Does Tommy want wawa? Does Tommy want Mommy to give Tommy wawa?
Toddler: Preferisco il latte, Madre. Mille grazie.
Grown-Up: Here’s Tommy’s baba. Oooh, would Tommy like a sammie? Wawababagoo Mommy yumyum baba goo! Tommy’s a big boy!
Toddler: Non me parlare come ciò.
First of all, I don’t get the lack of pronouns. Why must Mommy address herself as “Mommy”? Why can’t Mommy refer to herself as “me” or “I”? Why must Mommy be such a dumbdumbhead?
Second, what’s up with the “googoo” truncated versions of easy-to-pronounce words? Just because Tommy’s mouth doesn’t quite form the words properly doesn’t mean that Mommymoomoo has to act as if she too is ready for the playpen. She can say “water” and “bottle”. She can definitely say “sandwich”. (And I wholeheartedly discourage anyone from ever saying “sammie”, unless of course, he’s discussing a particular cherished member of the Rat Pack.) And she can say “little”, too, instead of “widdle”. Weally.
Fird Third, why oh why must Mommy say everything in a singsong choochoo ramalamadingdong tone of voice, as if everything she says rhymes? Is Mommy a big purple dinosaur? Is Mommy a neon alien with a television stuck in her tum-tum? No. So knock it off.