It is both odd and amazing to watch a child learn language. When Jared was just turning one, he was enthralled by animals and mimicked us as we told him the sounds animals make. It wasn’t long before his repertoire of animal sounds was pretty extensive.
Then he started adding words and stringing those words into sentences. Now, at the age of two, our little copy cat has a pretty impressive vocabulary. He’s called Clint “little buddy” a couple times, he tells me to “wait a minute” or “just a little while” when I tell him to hurry up, and he strokes my leg sometimes when I’ve just rolled out of bed and says “Mama’s pretty/handsome/beautiful” (that’s my favorite—and proof that love is blind). We know where these phrases come from. Maybe Clint and I don’t realize how often we say them, but we know through his voice that we must have said them often enough that they made an impression on him.
But lately he’s picked up two new words that he uses with an alarming accuracy, and we didn’t know (for sure) where he got them at first. For such an angelic little guy, our baby has begun to use “kill” and “die” a little too often. He throws Elmo off the couch and crows “I kill Elmo!” He pushes his wooden train off the track and says “It’s dead” under his breath.
Where did he come up with these words? Is it as natural for a boy to be obsessed with killing and death as it is for him to play with Matchbox cars? As natural as it is for a girl to like to twirl in front of a mirror? Or did some insidious outside element introduce these two words into our baby’s vocabulary?
Clint and I have spent the last week scratching our heads and fretting that maybe our youngest was cut out for a life of serial crime, watching in helpless fascination as Jared systematically killed his toys again and again. And then we saw it: Jonah, Jared’s 10 year old brother, standing almost out of sight, bent over his cupped hand, laughing so hard in silent glee that his muscles were rigid.
Insidious outside element, huh. We needed to look no further than the evil force under our very roof: the older brother who delights in corrupting the innocent mouth of his sibling. So now we’re not sure how much relief to feel. On one hand, Jared has probably (thus far) escaped the threat of years in prison. But on the other hand, Jonah probably has a bunch more tricks up his sleeve, many more ideas for ways to twist his younger brother into something not quite angelic any more. And we always thought Jonah was such a GOOD kid. Apparently, he’s only as good as the next opportunity for mischief.