As Cameron’s language skills have been developing, we have gotten to a point as a family where we can pretty much understand everything he is trying to express. At times though, there have been words that stump us for a long while. “Ridrent” was one. It took me weeks to finally figure out that Cameron was saying “different”. And then he started saying “dickall“, which we deciphered to mean “What’s this called?”.
There is one thing that Cameron has been saying lately that has been particularly troubling.
Starting a few weeks ago, Cameron began saying “No! Too big!” when there was something that he didn’t like. I could not quite figure it out because whatever he was talking about would never fit into a size context. If we were watching a TV show Cameron didn’t like, he would say “No! Too big!“. If he didn’t want a particular dinner we were feeding him he would reply with “No! Too big!“. For a while, I wondered if someone had taught my son to say “stupid”. But no, he was definitely saying “too big“.
“You know why he is saying things are too big, right?” my husband asked.
No. I didn’t. Not at all.
So Dan explained to me how it started.
Every night before bed, Cameron gets 3 books read to him. Often, Cameron picks out these books. His shelf is full of books – board books and paper books and touch-and-feel books and lift-the-flap books. Many of the books are perfect for his little imagination. He might be starting to grow out of the few baby books included on his shelf, however. And there are some books which are just a little too old for him right now. The word-to-picture ratio on these ones are too high and the length is just a little more than a two-year-old can handle right before bed.
One night recently, while Dan was getting Cameron ready for bed, Cameron asked that his third book of the evening be one of these long, wordy books. So Dan replied, “No buddy, I’m sorry. That book is just too big.”
And somehow, with that statement, a switch was turned in Cameron’s head. “Too big” meant “not the right one“. It meant “That’s not what I want.” It meant “wrong“.
So now, when Cameron says “too big”, he means something that he definitely does not want.
But, Cameron isn’t the only one who says “too big”.
I say it all the time too.
“Cameron, don’t sit in Gavin’s chair, you’re too big!”
“Cameron, you cam’t put all your weight on the baby, you’re too big!”
“Cameron, I can’t carry you all the time, you’re too big!”
“Cameron, look at how much you’ve grown, you’re so big!”
Cameron is my big boy. I want him to be proud about that. He is so much more able and accomplished than his baby brother currently is. He can do so much more than Baby Gavin can. But also, he needs to be extra careful, extra gentle now that a baby is around. His bigness isn’t a curse, but a wonderful blessing that opens up so many opportunities. But every time I say these things to him, is he hearing something different? Is he hearing that he isn’t right? It he hearing that I don’t want him? Is he hearing that something is wrong with him?
It is wonderful watching his little mind work. I love how the pieces fit together, I love seeing him take things from our daily life to use in his every day.
But this? This is a miscommunication in the worst way.
Cameron is not too anything. He is not too big. He still has a lot of little left. He is not too little though either.
No, he is just right.
I hope he knows that.