Perhaps, once they have become quite confident communicating verbally, there comes a time when two-year-olds realise they just love the sound of their own voice. I think it also occurs to them that, by talking (even if they are talking utter nonsense), they can gain a new and very exciting sort of acknowledgement.
Ruby has definitely hit that stage, as she demonstrated on Monday, when she and I were enjoying some quality time together. As Ru pootled around the kitchen, she suddenly remembered something exciting that had happened at the weekend. We had entertained a visitor in our garden – a fully-grown frog who was, in all probability, wondering where the hell the pond had gone.
So there I was, merrily chatting away about what I was about to cook and (lying) about how yummy it would be, when Ruby interrupted me, at FULL volume:
"LOOOK! Issa FROOOOOG!"
I turned round to see her pointing through the glass in the French doors – at nothing.
"I'm not sure the frog is there, darling," I said, and bent down to see the patio from her level. "No, I can't see it, I think the frog has gone."
"Issa FROOOOOG!" she yelled again, and pulled at the door handle to get outside. We stepped out to have a closer inspection. There was no frog anywhere to be seen. But she continued: "LOOOK! Issa FROOOOOG!!"
"Ru, I can't see..."
"Really, Ruby, the frog isn't there!" I rustled some leaves in the flowerbed to check there really, definitely, was not a frog. And there was not.
"Iss GONE!" Ruby said dramatically as she turned her palms skywards.
"Yes, honey, the frog has gone." I thought that would be it, so I went to step back inside.
But then: "LOOOK! Issa FROOOOOG!"
"Ru! The frog has GONE!"
"FROOOOOG! Issa FROOOOOG!"
Now, I have long suspected that spending so much time with toddlers might have sent me a bit doolally, but Ruby really managed to suck me in – it was like I was bewitched. Anyone standing outside our kitchen door would have heard, for about 15 minutes without a break, this noise:
"IssaFROOOOOG!ThefroghasGONE!IssaFROOOOOG!ThefroghasGONE!IssaFROOOOOG!ThefroghasGONE!IssaFROOOOOG!ThefroghasGONE!IssaFROOOOOG!ThefroghasGONE!IssaFROOOOOG!ThefroghasGONE!IssaFROOOOOG!ThefroghasGONE!IssaFROOOOOG!ThefroghasGONE!IssaFROOOOOG!ThefroghasGONE!IssaFROOOOOG!ThefroghasGONE!IssaFROOOOOG!ThefroghasGONE!IssaFROOOOOG!ThefroghasGONE! On and on"
I'm not sure who buckled first. I think it was me, I think I said: "Ruby, would you like some cheese?" and it broke the spell. But just as I was congratulating myself for not completely cracking up and running from the house screaming, I was dealt this:
"LOOOK! Issa frog FINGER!"*
So I took a long, deep breath and replied: "Oh my goodness! Look at that, a frog FINGER!"
Finally, she was satisfied, and said (just once): "Mummy? Cheeeeese?"