Always looking for animals

Sam, Katy, and Noggs in Africa


The why phase and playing Taboo with toddlers

Recently we stayed in the UK for quite a while. A few days ago we traveled back to Africa. It’s good to be back in the sunshine and amongst awesome animals again.

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Us in the UK.

Our nearly three year old is learning new words and phrases at lightning speed. He’s always listening creepily closely even when you think he’s not. Kinda like Alexa. If some of his trigger words (chocolate, Bob the Builder, playground, Lightning McQueen) come up in a background conversation, he switches onto high alert and demands more information. Luckily, he hasn’t learned to spell or look in the vegetable drawer of the fridge yet so we can still talk about c-h-o-c-o-l-a-t-e and hide our stash of chocolately goodness amongst the broccoli to sneak into our gobs when he’s not looking.

We have recently entered the asking why constantly phase. I have successfully answered most questions so far. Go me. The majority of questions relate to something occurring in the present rather than deeper and more complex queries. Why are you chopping pineapple? Why can’t I have a snack now? But despite my higher education, I’m pretty sure I don’t really know why the sky is blue. So I’m not looking forward to that one. I have vague idea relating back to my days in Mrs. Wainwright’s 10th grade physics class. To avoid transferring incorrect or completely made up information, my answer will probably be ‘ask your daddy’ or even ‘ask Alexa’. Both of them seem pretty smart. People say that it’s most important nowadays for kids to be able to source accurate information so I don’t feel too guilty about my fobbing off tactics.


At the moment, Noggs is being Captain Word-Collector and when he hears a new word he wants to know what is means. The other day we read Hansel and Gretel. There’s a bit when the evil stepmother tells Hansel and Gretel’s father that they don’t have enough food for everyone and he must take his children into the woods and leave them there otherwise they will all starve. This story is dark – child abandonment and abduction type of dark. Noggs wanted to know what starve means. He also recently asked me what breathe means. It’s hard to explain these words without using more words that he perhaps doesn’t know or fully understand like lungs, air, and death. It feels like playing the game, Taboo, where you have to describe a word without using the actual word or certain associated words.

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It is definitely an interesting time developmentally as you can see the cogs in Nogg’s mind whirring constantly as he acquires more information. He is essentially being a scientific researcher of the world which is pretty cool. As researchers ourselves, we are pretty impressed. I’m especially impressed at how he remembers every little thing. I forget my shopping list in the car at the supermarket but Noggs remembers every detail about a not particularly impressive green toy truck we lost in an unknown location a year ago with vivid clarity. We will teach him to reference properly and then he can start writing publications on why he’s not allowed to have another snack, why he has to have a bath, and other fascinating findings. I’m sure the journal ‘Toddler Insights’ (which I just made up) would consider it. Peer review would be in crayon.

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I’ll give this manuscript minor corrections.