As a mom to a two-year-old, I am learning very quickly that people aren’t kidding when they say a toddler’s vocabulary doubles overnight. Judah is rapidly saying new phrases, sentences, words, and is making our home and car a much louder and interactive place to be. But with all his new ways of communicating, he can be a little…demanding.
Since I live a good 30 minutes from Baton Rouge, the car has become my quiet place to and from work. I think about things, listen to music (or books!), pray for friends and family, but mainly I just tune out. That is, until Judah is in the car with me. When I get Mr. Chatterbox on board, he wants to talk about the horses, the cows, the trees, the buses, the big trucks, the garbage truck, the firetruck, the people running, and the list goes on and on and on.
For a while, I just “mmhmm’ed” and “oh yeah’ed” everything he said without really engaging him. It was my time to tune out, right? Wrong. Until I acknowledged everything he said, I was usually greeted with “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, MOMMY!” It took him a few times to do this that I suddenly realized how much quality time I was missing with him by choosing to “tune out.” He wanted to talk to me. He wanted me to see what he is seeing.
I forget that the world is such an exciting and new place to him–and that he genuinely gets pumped up when he sees three school buses in a row. So I decided to start seizing those car rides and enter into talks with my budding conversationalist. He loves passing horses and cows, so when he pointed them out to me, I asked how many he saw. I was stunned when he actually counted correctly and gave me the number. I also got a glimpse into his admiration of school buses when he pointed one out on our way home from daycare. I asked who rides the bus and he replied loudly with a smile on his face, “big kids!” I never would have gotten to hear his answers to these questions if I just nodded and brushed off his observations by saying, “oh cool bud” and then return to my music.
I’m quickly discovering that the more I engage his observations and statements, the more I enjoy those car rides. My hope is that our car always serves as an outlet of seamless conversation, so that as he gets older, talking to mom or dad about things after school or while running errands won’t seem so out of the norm. But in the meantime, I’ll happily listen to my little toddler’s whispers in the backseat as he counts the cows in the passing fields.