I think, as they first start trying to string sentences together, most toddlers go through a stage during which they need to be translated by their mum (or main caregiver). For a while now, Ruby has required a little help from me to get her point across because many of the words she chooses suggest an entirely different meaning.
For example, when she says "out, out!" it means she wants you to take her shoes off. Whereas, if she says "door, door!" that means she wants to go out.
And when she says "a-poo, a-poo!" it's not what you might first imagine. In fact, what she's trying to say is "help you", and what she actually means is "please help me." That could mean aiding her in getting the last scrape of Petis Filous out of the pot, or assisting her in getting all wrapped up in a blanket (which is, for some reason, essential attire for lying on the floor and drinking out of her beaker).
Anyway, while Ruby does sometimes use the right words, there are definitely occasions when her strange 'dialect' is most helpful. The other week, for example, Ru was all tucked up in the buggy, waiting patiently on the pavement for mummy to stop faffing, when a cyclist approached us, on foot, pushing his bike. He nodded a quick hello to me, and smiled at Ru, who was beaming at him.
Ruby pointed excitedly, laughed and said "Fway! Fway!"
... which means 'fairy'.
Why she looked at that middle-aged, bearded, bespectacled man, all clad in black and lime green lycra, and decided he was a fairy I don't know. But I was very thankful for her pronunciation, because he thought she was trying to say "wave, wave!" which he duly did.
Several days later, we had an electrician round to fix a few pesky light switches. Having met both Ruby and Ava, who were fascinated with him for some reason, and followed him around for about 15 minutes, he mentioned that he and his wife were expecting their first baby in April.
And, oh boy, was I pleased to have the knowledge that in all likelihood he has not, as yet, had the pleasure of CBeebies. Because when he popped out to his van to get some important electrician-y thing, Ruby chased him to the door shouting: "Oh no! Tumbor! Tumbor! Bye Tumbor!"
It will be some time before he is subjected to Mr Tumble, so hopefully he will have forgotten and never make the connection.
Of course, despite being the one who frequently communicates (or doesn't) what Ruby is trying to say, even I don't always get it right. Not long ago, we were sitting on the floor together (having made the living room look like an explosion in a lego factory) and Ruby sat on me and said: "Aye-laboo!"
I should probably say here that I do read to Ru, and do Play-Doh and all manner of other things aside from watching TV. But what I thought she was saying was 'Waybuloo'. Ruby's absolute favourite, it's a strange programme, with giant-headed, bug-eyed creatures, who float when they are happy and do yoga on a daily basis.
So I reached out and picked up Ruby's Lau Lau toy and gave it to her.
"Lau Lau!" she said. And then after a while, still on my lap: "Aye-laboo."
"Do you want your DVD on darling?" I showed it to her. And she bounced up and down, so we watched two episodes together. But when she had tired of the TV, and I switched it off, she turned round to me and nuzzled in for a cuddle.
"Aye-laboo," she said.
And then I realised she hadn't really wanted her Waybuloo DVD on at all. What she wanted was for me to say, "I love you, too."