In the past few weeks/months, I’ve discovered a really strange cultural and verbal phenomenon centered around babies, particularly babies who can’t yet talk. That phenomenon is that we, as adults, talk for them. About half the time, we use the phrase: “Say ‘_________,'” and the other half of the time we just say something in a baby-ish voice, indicating to all present that you are now vocalizing for the child. If you are around babies, you’ve probably done it, whether you realize it or not.
One of the most common examples is when I want Carson to seem polite. So, at the store, when someone says (TO him) “You are a cutie!” I feel the need to follow with “Say ‘Thank you!'” Why do I do this? Is it because in complimenting him, I feel she’s actually complimenting me, therefore I’m obliged to reply? Why don’t I just say “thank you”? It’s certainly not that I’m trying to communicate what he is truly thinking, because, in truth, it probably is more along the lines of “Your breath stinks,” or “You wear a lot more makeup than my mom,” or “You have a huge head.”
But the funniest use of this strange vicarious communication is when I noticed Trent and I have occasionally used it to be slightly passive-aggressive with each other. (Okay, I’m usually much more guilty.) Especially when Carson was very little, I would find myself going “Daddy! That’s too much powder on my bottom!” or “Daddy, your farts smell worse than mine!” or “Mommy, how come Daddy is more interested in his video games than in playing with me?” etc. etc. It’s like I found a whole new way to tell Trent how to parent or that I frown on his gas-passing ways or that I want him to watch the baby for a while, without actually saying it MYSELF.
If you haven’t watched the movie “Look Who’s Talking” recently, you should rent it. It was infinitely more funny after I had a kiddo. We all wish we could know what thoughts are going through those precious little heads, and that those thoughts would be as developed as ours. Since that’s not happening any time soon, we’ll just have to speak for them. “Carson! Say, ‘Bye-bye!'”