any parent of a small child, or a child that once was small, knows one fun little fact. in truth, it's something that anyone that has come in contact with a small child for any length of time probably knows. small children are parrots. not that they hang out with pirates and eat crackers, though mine would love that. what i want to talk about here is that small ones will repeat whatever you say.
sometimes it's funny. saying complicated words and phrases, and then hearing them repeated with a cute little toddler lisp is adorable. or when you have to have a serious talk with one kid, and the little one repeats your lecture, word for word, while standing right behind you. even better is when they copy your stance, hand on hip with one finger raised. it helps to remind you that your kids are only young for so long, and maybe making a huge deal about a messy room that you've told them to clean up for the millionth time is not as world ending as you previously thought.
and their parrot skills are strange at times. hearing them say phrases out of context is weird, but when they say things that are spot on, like "that is absolutely terrible" in response to your complaints about having to put away yet another load of laundry, is even weirder.
though what i really remember from when the boys went through this stage, and it is really brought to mind with my dear fish just entering it, is that they will repeat all the things you don't want them to say. when bumble was around two, you could get him to say anything. in fact, it was his favorite game. it was cute when we'd watch old kung fu movies and he'd yell along and swing a fake sword. it was way less cute when he'd repeat at the dinner table things he might have heard me mention in traffic. and that's what dear fish is doing now: she's telling the boys that "daddy is going to kick your ass" for doing something wrong. not that it ever actually happens, but perhaps it's something she's heard the boys threatened with on more than one occasion.
and so, to combat her developing the vocabulary of a well seasoned sailor, my family and i have tried to use words that sound like the ones we really want to say. like fudge. or dumpster (my sister's favorite). and i've started to use "oh poodles" for just about everything. because even if fishie repeats poodles, it sounds innocent no matter how it comes out. unlike fudge, which if slurred by a two year old just right, still sounds like the f-word we're trying not to say.
the strange things is that now i say it even when i don't have to. even when i'm around other grown ups, or even just by myself, i still say poodles. which i guess isn't so bad, it's safer to be so used to saying it that i won't slip up and say something i shouldn't. at this stage, i'm trying to expand fish's vocabulary in good ways, with words like probably and fantastic. learning all those other words sounds like a job for poppop.