Special needs

Do you censor yourself around your toddler?

Anchel Krishna and family need to watch what they say these days because Syona is repeating it all.

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Syona has started listening in on adult conversations. Photo: Anchel Krishna

Follow along as Anchel Krishna shares her experiences as mother to Syona, an extraordinary toddler with cerebral palsy. 

When I was a kid I wanted a pet parrot. Weird, I know. My parents would never allow me to have a dog, so I was willing to settle for a bird. I never got the parrot when I was a kid, but I sure have one now in the form of my almost three-year-old.

Around this time last year, Syona’s speech was a major work in progress. She had extremely limited sounds, an even more limited vocabulary and really didn’t have a way to express herself, other than screaming or crying. It was tough.

Over the past year we’ve seen Syona’s speech development improve in a big way and I’ve shared a lot of the milestones along the way. Syona has also gotten much better at imitating our talking over the past few months (imitation and speech development are closely linked, so this isn’t a surprise).

Dilip and I aren’t particularly known for having potty mouths, but on occasion, four letter words do find a way into our otherwise perfectly respectable vocabularies. Well, we can’t make those mistakes any longer. So we’re doing our best to not use phrases and words that we shouldn’t be using. And we both have free license to act as the censorship police around our house. Typically it’s Dilip who is reminding me to watch what I say, but there are some situations where I get to walk the moral high ground and remind him to mind his words.

And beyond hearing us talk, we have to look — err, listen — for other things in earshot. Like my fellow blogger, Lisa van de Geyn, the TV is often on at my house, too. Since Syona isn’t really into TV yet, we still have the luxury of watching grown-up shows. But last week that changed. I was doing stretches with Syona and a character on some show said “oh my god.” Syona immediately looked at me — and just like that parrot I wanted — said “oh my god.” This may not seem like a big deal, but Syona imitated the phrase so quickly (usually there is a 15-30 second delay when she says something because of some motor planning issues related to her cerebral palsy), and this time her turnaround of the phrase was immediate. I think the phrase “oh my god” is pretty harmless but there is a good chance that the next phrase she repeats won’t be quite so pristine.

Read more: The bathroom humour phase >

Although we will have to limit watching some of the more colourful shows we like when Syona is not around, I am grateful. We’ve often missed out on some of the parenting milestones that come along with having a kid, like baby-proofing the house, or the creepy sensation of your toddler walking into your room in the middle of the night, or chuckling over your child’s mispronunciation of a certain word, etc. Having to say “sugar” and “fudge” in moments of frustration is a habit I can really start to love.

Do you watch what you say around your kids?