Thursday, January 27, 2011

Head Banging

Young children communicate with their parents and siblings in different ways.

Mom-E and I distinctly remember the pediatrician telling us that second-born children sometimes start talking a little later than their older sibling (who talks for them). If they can make their needs known by pointing or grunting (or by having their older sibling determine their needs), so be it.

(Boy did he get that one wrong for Little Brother, who was and is the diametric opposite. Apparently he decided he HAS to talk to survive. “Dad-E, why do we talk? What do we do that for? Do you like to talk? Why do you keep your tools there? Are there towels under there? Who built our house?”)

But I digress *comes up for air*

And so, when it came to our third child, Mom-E and I figured his verbal development would go one of two ways: either 1) he won’t talk at all, because Big Brother and Little Brother will talk for him, 2) he’ll talk nonstop in order to (try to) keep up with his older brothers (or at least get a word in edge-wise).

So far, Bab-E Brother is a happy, smiley, chatty, babbly guy. He says a few words. Ma-Ma, Da-Da, Hey/Hi, Buh (for Ball), and occasionally Hah (for Hat).

Bab-E Brother also has a variety of non-verbal gestures, but two are particularly enjoyable.

He’s figured out how to shake his head “No” (don’t all kids figure that one out reflexively—why can’t the same happen for “Clean your room”, or “Flush”, or “Wash your hands”, or “Do the dishes and make lunches while Mom-E and Dad-E rest their weary feet.”)

The only problem is that while most of the time the head shake means “No”, sometimes it means “Yes”, and it’s up to us to figure it out. (Although if you dangled a cookie in front of him, a shake of the head “No” is pretty likely to mean “I want that now. Let me go and get out of my way.”)

The other thing he does is BANG HIS HEAD. Usually, he thrusts it backwards with an arch of the back, although sometimes it’s a direct head butt. This gesture is a more emphatic form of “No”, further taken to mean, “What you’re doing at this very moment is NOT subserving my needs. Please alter your behavior immediately, or I will continue to butt my head.”

When he does it, it makes me think of the scene in Parenthood where Steve Martin’s youngest child has a bucket over his head, which he repeatedly rams into a doorway. “He likes to butt things with his head.” Mary Steenbergen describes. Rick Moranis replies “How proud you must be.”

My only hope is that he’ll (relatively) painlessly discover the drawbacks of this approach at nonverbal communication.

Nice. All we need to do now is fire up some Metallica, forget to give him his Cheerios for awhile, and we’ve got ourselves a viral YouTube video!

ROCK ON, Bab-E Brother! (Just don’t hit your head)


  1. Caution: watch out for fat lips! One of mine did this for a few months and eek! it can cause some pain! Thankfully it passed.

  2. Bab-E Brother head butted me right into my teeth last week. Surprised he didn't have a mark on his forehead after that. Guess it was a good thing my mouth was open or I would have had a fat lip. Seriously though, it is so fun watching him change by the minute.