Talking is such an important milestone in raising kids. But having kids, for whatever reason, apparently comes with a cost: your own ability to speak properly.
Maybe it’s just my wife and me (I’m only saying that to be generous and polite). I know from conversing with plenty other parents that it’s not just our sad, sorry arses. You see, we used to speak English, but now we speak Parentese.
Parents don’t speak it all the time, of course. It’s more like what multi-lingual people do when they bounce back-and-forth between languages. If we spoke Parentese all the time, we know we’d be sent to the hospital to get checked out so often that they’d name a parking spot after us near the head trauma ward.
This may not be the story of our lives, but it’s a fair sample of its dialog.
Grammar Are Unusual
“Is those a apple?”
“Which ones that’s are more bigger?”
Don’t dread that you’re supposed to be teaching by example and that you don’t want your kid to grow up sounding like a drunk rap star reciting Yoda quotes in Pig Latin. It’s okay, it’s normal. All your grammar are belong to Parentese.
“We soh a beelloon at the park. Soh? Beeloon?”
“How many diapahrs did you bring? DiapAHRS?!? Diapahrs diapahrs diapahrs! Ha ha ha ha!”
These variations on the person’s normal language will nearly invariably be repeated by them in a silly or self-conscious way. It’s almost completely involuntary.
Incomplete Sentences and …
“So I texted that he’s running a fever and that’s… um… what was I talking about?”
Your train of thought derailed. It happens. You went on a sidetrack in your story, or got lost at a conjunction junction and couldn’t find your way back to the right conversation station.
Frag… mented… Speech
“You really… that’s not… if your… stop it.”
Thoughts can be expressed like a skipping stone, splattering across your vocabulary before finally plopping to a stop and sinking to the bottom of what you were trying to say.
Loss of Punctuation in Speech
“Not me there were some I didn’t see when do you last go.”
It doesn’t have to be a lot, but the words were machine-gunned so fast, it can take a moment or a decryption team to separate the smear of consciousness.
“I-I um I… I d-don’t kn…y-yeah, yes I washed it off first.”
Don’t worry, speech therapy is not needed. This is just the accent one occasionally puts on Parentese when one’s mind is sputtering from a bone-dry tank of gas or roaring with the rocket fuel of panic.
“Are they the ones that she said we need when he has it?”
Pronouns. The sentence above could make perfect sense if you knew who “they” were, what “ones” refers to, who “she” and “he” are, and what “it” is. In Parentese none of these things are necessary. Yes, pronouns act as shortcut references in normal language, but since parents are shortcut junkies, Parentese is filthy-stinking rich with them.
“Totally not, yes.”
“I don’t not think no.”
“No, don’t not don’t do it.”
These kinds of statements can leave one feeling like they just played verbal Three Card Monte, the positives and the negatives sliding around like playing cards on a table, leaving people wondering if there’s even a Queen to correctly guess at.
Bargled Words & Sybabbles
“Was that the Cadamamy-Award-winning vumie?”
“Stop boobing my grabbies!”
These garbled, Dr. Seuss sounding sentences are normally ended with long pauses followed by a fit of uncontrollable laughter. Or, for shier types, with a blush so bright it’s visible in the dark.
Slowly but surely, you become fluent in Parentese. Don’t fight it. There may be a point where you feel like a monkey because you’re doing such a piss poor job of speaking. You may just want to say eff it, start pointing frantically at an object while grunting, and then throw poop at some curious bystanders.
So, if someone you’re talking to starts looking at you like there’s something very wrong with your head, just laugh and give ’em a “whoops, not again!” roll of your eyes and tell them you probably just slipped into the other language you speak. And if that doesn’t work? Yep. Throw poop at them and run.*
The improper grammar, bad spelling and incoherence of Parentese will fit right in on Facebook.
“Here’s now is some pictures.”