01
Oct
11

chatty cathy vs. chatty johnny

As I was researching language acquisition for the last post I did, I found a lot of research on language usage and the subsequent amount of it. Blah. Blah. Blah. Numbers, numbers, numbers. Except. Except… in every single one of the studies I skimmed the scientists were showing that females talked more than males. Girls talked more than boys. Pretty much all the scientific studies showed the same thing: girls spoke earlier, more and had a bigger vocabulary. Except…

Um. No. Clearly these scientists and researchers have never met my children. My male children. All three of them talked early, often and with huge vocabularies, including words like “appeared” and “actually” (pronounced oxually). When big was not so big he never stopped talking, his entire life was a running dialouge. I say dialogue becuase no matter what came out of his mouth I was expected to respond and if I didn’t the conversation took on an urgent tone that I was forced to notice.

Big at 3: Vrooom. Vroom. The car is driving up into the parking garage to park on the top floor. [driving car around as described]

Mom: [silence because honestly I don’t know what kind of response is called for.]

Big: MOM! THE CAR IS DRIVING UP INTO THE PARKING GARAGE TO PARK ON THE TOP FLOOR!!!!!!!

Mom: OKAY! SUPER!

Every single waking moment of every single day I was expected to participate in conversationally; the boy performed no monologues. My brain was over-stimulated and it was the sort of thing that would make a mommy a little cranky. I perfected the least interested response I could. When I was pregnant with Middle and laying on the couch in the clutches of mid-afternoon sickness and Big was desperately trying to include me in a conversation about trains; I came up with this cheat sheet for the direst of times.

first response: Hmmm.

second: hMMmmm.

third: hmmmmMMM.

fourth: hmmmmm?

fifth: hmmmmm!!!

Repeat.

speak no evil, speak a little evil and speak much evil and by evil I mean mostly potty talk.

So of course I would go on to bear two more children who would grace the good earth with their voices that tinkle like bells ALL THE TIME. I was feeling guilty; like shouldn’t I want to be constantly engaged in unstimulating conversation with little people? I asked my therapist if I was secretly totally evil. She said, no. We had a nice dialogue about it. She said the human brain isn’t meant to be stimulated ALL THE TIME. I should tell him that for five minutes I was going to turn my brain off and he could talk, but I wasn’t going to listen. If he wanted someone to listen he should find someone else to talk to, like say his baby brother or his teddy bear. It took him about a week to stop talking to me and expecting a response, but it was damn nice not to be expected to remember where I was in the “hmmm” cycle.

So all these studies are saying that boys talk less than girls and they have evidence and shit and I say, “whatever” because I don’t see it. So I want to know what they think the reasons are, so I know if my boys are freaks of nature and possibly huge moneymakers some day. In The Trouble with Boys by Peg Tyre she talks about how two separate studies found evidence that pointed in two opposite directions. Super, science, just super.

In the first study researchers decided after following around 22 educated, middle-class mothers of toddlers, both boys and girls about the same age for a few hours every month and tape every word they said, that the moms used the same amount of words with boys and girls, but boys spoke less and used fewer words. They believed that there was something intrinsic that made the boys less verbal (pp. 65-66). However, in a completely different study across more diverse racial and socioeconomic lines showed that the number of words a parent speaks to a child is directly related to the size of the child’s vocabulary regardless of gender. So that means that if you have a very active boy who wants to be outside running around, throwing balls and stuff, you might not choose to take them to the story hour at the library or sit down and read books to them. If you’re doing what they are interested in, or what is easier to do with them, then maybe there’s less language involved.

Now that makes sense. They spend a hell of a lot of time with me and I am a world champion talker. The kind of person that loves to talk. The person that volunteers to get up in front of people and talk. I can’t get enough of it. “Listen to me world!” Maybe because no one listens to me at home. Naw, I’ve always been that way; in theater, forensics (not the CSI kind). LOOOOOVE the stage. My childhood report cards always said, quarter after quarter and year after year, “Becki’s a great student, but she needs to spend less time talking.”

I talked so much that my fourth grade teacher tied me into my desk with crepe paper so I wouldn’t walk around the room and talk to people. If we would have known then what we know now about suing for pain and suffering…

So the boys have a great role model, if they’d let me get a word in edgewise. Also, I’m not so much into the running around outside and the ball-throwing. I was always reading to Big and dragging him to story hours and anything else that involved me sitting on my ass. It’s gotten harder with Middle and Little because they seem to be more active types. And don’t go around thinking I’ve ruined Big and he’s like a big blob on the couch; he’s a white belt in Tai Kwon Do, but he’s going places.

I know that someday I’m going to miss all these little voices around me. They may be surly teenagers and I’ll have to beg them to talk to me. I videotaped Little yesterday telling me the names of all the Star Wars guys that he knew because it’s just too precious to hear your three-year old recite the members of the Dark Side. That’s not all he says, he says I love you mommy about twenty times a day, but I never have the camera ready for that. That, I’ll never forget.

Advertisements

2 Responses to “chatty cathy vs. chatty johnny”


  1. 1 Susan
    October 1, 2011 at 10:03 pm

    Hmmm, talkative mom = talkative kid? I think my kid is destined to the same loquacious fate as yours.

  2. 2 Amy
    October 17, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    Wonderful. I hear your voice – truly.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 241 other followers

now what’s that now?

what’s done is done


%d bloggers like this: