Toddler talk: A lesson in patience

Toddler talk: A lesson in patience Cover Image

Would you call yourself a patient person? Ever tried teaching a toddler new words? You might change your mind pronto!

It is often said that teaching is an art. My mother is a teacher, and if her students are to be believed, she’s excellent at what she does. And I tend to agree. Why, she even teaches English to one of the local Sheikh’s kids.

Teaching is really tough business. It is an art form that requires immense levels of patience. So it should come as no surprise to hear that, we (as in my wife Janaki & I) had decided that teaching our son Rishi would primarily be her responsibility. Though this had more to do with the fact that she is much more patient that I am, her being a University rank holder during Engineering did tip the scales in her favour. Also I suck at teaching (Yes, I used the S word!) I am impatient, child-like and incredibly short-tempered. And trust me when I say – None of these are qualities you want when you are trying to teach your child something new, especially when you are trying to make him understand phonetics and words.

Of course, there’s another reason why I knew it would always be my wife, who would be responsible for my son’s education. I’ve been told that as a child, I’d often had trouble strumming letters together to make meaningful words. So for “Cat”, I would often say “shat” (which by the way is completely different to cat, though it rhymes pretty well). And for ‘car’, I would often say “bar” (which come to think of it, might explain my fondness for alcohol).

Ever since Rishi started talking, we’ve been trying to get him to say words like Dad, Mom, Grandpa, Grandma, GOOGLE (come on, he needs to know that word!) and more. Needless to say, he says “Mumma” exceptionally well, and “Papa” when he wants something from me. All other times, he refers to everyone else as “Hey!” (The kid’s got quite an attitude, I tell you!). But now that he’s turned two, he has started to say some words a bit more clearly. So Janaki’s teaching skills are finally being put to good use. Or that’s what we liked to believe, until the following happened.

Yesterday’s word of the day was “Banana” – Because B for Ball is so old-fashioned, and we’re proud to give Rishi his literary five-a-day. After all he was born in England, the land of enunciation.

Here’s a sneak peek into how the “Banana” episode unfolded.

Janaki : Rishi, today’s word is B for ….. Banana

Rishi : (excited) B…B…B…B……

Janaki: Yes Rishi. B for Banana

Rishi: (Continues to say) B…b..b…b…b..

This continues for a few minutes, after which Janaki tries a different approach.

Janaki: Rishi, BA – NA – NA

Rishi :(smiles cutely) “Ishi….Baby!”

Janaki : Yes, Rishi. B is also for Baby, but today we are learning ba-na-na

Rishi: (Turns his head a little bit and babbles something)

Janaki: Rishi, say BA

Rishi : “Ba”

Janaki: Good boy,Rishi. Say NA

Rishi:(Thinks for a little while and says) “NA”

Janaki: Excellent. Now say NA …again…NA

Rishi:(visibly excited since he thinks this is a game, says) NA

Janaki :Brilliant job, Rishi. Now let’s try saying it all together. BANANA

Rishi:(Looks at her confused and pouts his lips downwards.Doesn’t utter a word)

Janaki : Look, it’s easy. Let’s try saying it separately once again.

And then she starts from the beginning again. Amused, I sit there thinking that it’s kind of like the “Lather, Rinse, Repeat” process that you see advertised on shampoo bottles.

Janaki: Let’s say it together BA-NA-NA

Rishi: Pa-pa-pa (to the tune of Janaki’s Ba-na-na, sticks out his tongue and blows a raspberry, complete with surround sound and saliva rain)

Janaki sighs loudly and says, “It’s like Phoebe trying to teach Joey French!”, as she walks away.

Well, so much for patience. Mom, if you are reading this, it’s time to come home. Your grandson needs a teacher.

*A version of this post originally appeared on I Wrote Those

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