One of the things I loved in Peace Corps was hearing all the possible “rephrasings” of English. Many Ugandans speak English, but just because we were using the same words didn’t mean we were always on the “same sheet of paper” (as one of the German nurses used to say).

Having a toddler is just like learning a foreign language. You thought you knew English pretty well until it goes through the mouth and mind of a two year old and then you have to relearn it all anew. Your ear gets tuned to the differences. I love listening to Ellis’ language in his sweet little voice

From the hilarious mispronunciations (“horse” sounded like “whores” for a few months) to the absurd statements (like the Aunt that he insists on calling “Uncle Brenda” ) to the so-sincere-they-are-profound-remarks (“I want to lay down and be happy with you”), listening to Ellis is usually the highlight of parenting for me.

Lots of times he may have mastered the pronunciation of a word, but he will redefine the meaning just to keep you on your toes. This conversation, for example, is on a loop two times daily in our house:

Me: Ellis it is almost time for sleep.

Ellis: No, soon.

Ellis says “soon” with such emphasis it is clear that he is really saying “never, not in a million years.”

I keep wanting to videotape all of Ellis’ chatting. The content isn’t that interesting on its own, but I don’t want to lose the tone and quality of his language, or the unusual toddler phrasing that I know is going to fade as he grows.

But in an effort to stave that inevitable process I don’t correct him anymore when he says “el-o-went” instead of elephant, because I don’t want to lose that word. I know one day he is going to pronounce that word the way the rest of us do and Ellis’ el-o-went will be gone. I am sure this is going to happen soon, sooner than I am ready.  So I only wish that its Ellis’ definition of “soon” instead of mine.