Home > Family, Parenting > POOP, or the power of words

POOP, or the power of words

“Poop,” my eighteen-month-old son said to the wall a couple of days ago.

I stopped in my tracks. Were these random sounds, or was Littler J trying to tell me something?

Just in case, I set him down on his toilet seat before pulling over his tiny table and a couple of toys. We played together over the table for a few minutes before he waved both his hands near his face to to say, all done.

I was overjoyed when I saw he’d done a fair amount of business while we played. I was glad he’d gone to the bathroom in the toilet for the first time, but that was a fleeting thrill. There’re months of potty training ahead!

I was excited by that single word: poop.

The word announces our bathroom

The word announces our bathroom

My older son, Li’l D, babbled non-stop since he realized his mouth could shape sounds. He only used a few baby signs briefly before he began speaking–and speaking, and speaking, and speaking–in earnest.

Littler has been less enthusiastic about words. He’s more of a point-and-shriek guy. Heck, he only called me “Mama” for about a week before realizing pointing and shrieking (1) takes less effort and (2) gets him what he wants lightning fast.

A few months ago, my husband and I decided to start playing Baby Signing Time for Littler J. We wondered if he would be more enthusiastic about talking with his hands than with his mouth.

We started playing the DVDs for him and watched his vocabulary grow to include water, food, banana, cereal, more, cat, fish, bird, shoe, sock, diaper, hat, book, Mom, Dad and baby.

He started cradling his arms in a show of baby to request Baby Signing Time. He’s used the other words to either tell us what he wants or to point out something he’s seeing. He especially loves double-tapping his head to show he’s seen someone wearing a hat.

Last week, he started signing two word combinations: baby plus cat, baby plus dog, more plus banana.

(If we knew the word for “olives,” that’s what he’d always be signing: moreolivesmoreolivesmoreolives!)

I loved witnessing those new combinations. More and more, Littler’s able to tell me what he’s seeing.

But that “poop,” man. That was the marker of whole new worlds of connection to come. Instead of just describing what he’s seeing or what he wants, he was saying: “I’m about to do this!” or “This is about to happen!” That one word implied many others.

His world is expanding. His words are expanding. Before long, he’ll speak in three-word sentences, and then in four.

(I can’t imagine him speaking in twenty consecutive twenty-word sentences like his brother yet, but maybe he’ll do that, too.)

Until then, I’ll savor each new combination as it comes. I’ll savor each new word, too, for how it helps him tell me a little more about his world than he could the day before.

This morning, at a stoplight, I looked at Littler J reflected in his car mirror. He saw me watching and raised his hand in a fist, his thumb jutting out between two fingers. He shook the fist over and over.

“Potty!” I exclaimed. “Did you go potty?”

“Yeah,” he said.

A whiff of him when I opened his door a few minutes later confirmed this.

I beamed as I carried him into school. Never had I been so thrilled to smell poop, or to be told about it!

Tonight, I revel in the thought of all my toddler can tell me, and the thought of everything else he someday will. And I smile to think all this, because all these thoughts began with …




  1. September 24, 2015 at 7:04 pm

    Ah yes, always a joy when they make the connection from brain to mouth to bottom! And to toilet. 🙂

  2. September 24, 2015 at 7:06 pm

    Hurray! My son is 18 months too and is a dancing fiend. He says quite a bit but… It’s not always clear! I’m like, “he said this!” Other people are like “…. Did he?” I am glad your little one is being verbal and non verbal. We tried signing time but not the baby one… He thought we were crazy. He learned food (more) and that’s it. I guess streaking and pointing is more effective in my household too!

    • September 24, 2015 at 7:15 pm

      Li’l D didn’t really take to signing, but the handful of signs he did use were lifesavers before he learned to talk. Because of this, I discounted how helpful it might be to another kid … but I’m glad those discs were still there, waiting to be broken out! (The baby ones are slower and quieter, though Littler’s starting to express an interest in the regular ones now.)

      Everyone always says, “Don’t compare your kids!” But it was a little nerve-wracking to have one super talkative kid and one that hardly talked at all. When all you know about young children is one child, there’s no way not to compare and think of that as the norm … at least not at the beginning!

      Littler loves dancing, too, way more that Li’l D ever did! 🙂

      • September 24, 2015 at 7:20 pm

        I have to remind myself all the time not to compare. CDubs doesn’t even try to tell us he went to the bathroom. Potty training scares me… I know nothing and the time for it is fast approaching…

        • September 24, 2015 at 7:21 pm

          I’m okay with comparing … there’s no way not to! It’s just important to me to set comparisons aside after, say, someone skilled in childhood development overall says, “There is no need to worry; though this isn’t what you’re used to in your very limited experience, it’s perfectly fine.” 🙂

          • September 24, 2015 at 7:27 pm

            Indeed! As long as he’s fine in the end and it’s not a sign of something else- that kind of comparing is fine.

            I hate the “my child did this at that age, have you had your child checked for problems?” I dislike. Everyone is different … Except not apparently (with some folks).

          • September 24, 2015 at 7:29 pm

            Yes. YES, YES, YES times a MILLION!

  3. September 24, 2015 at 7:09 pm

    Our youngest loved bananas and would sign for them in a most exuberant way. He’d hold his thumb up in the air and then ‘peel’ the banana all the way to his elbow! I absolutely loved the sign language. Tonight, I sat while he read all 60+ pages of a Frog and Toad book to me. Time moves swiftly!

    • September 24, 2015 at 7:18 pm

      Littler’s “banana” is indistinguishable from “car,” depending on how excited he is. Only the context illuminates. 😉

      Reading “Dow gobba gesk” (about Li’l D talking bunches at 19 months) had me feeling nostalgic about how quickly everything changes. It seems like yesterday he was saying “dow gobba gesk,” and now he’s reading confidently. And doing subtraction and addition. And telling me about global warming.

      It’s so sweet to see, but there’s the tiniest tinge of bitter to it. How quickly it all passes! That’s why I’m enjoying these single-word bursts for all they reveal, and for all they are now. Then will take care of then, before I can even believe it’s done its work. 🙂

  4. Deb
    September 24, 2015 at 7:09 pm

    I am clapping with an excited grin for Littler…and for you. Great job little boy 🙂

  5. September 24, 2015 at 9:44 pm

    Awesome pic. I’m glad the journey is starting. Yay for less diapers ahead! Number two if “free” will go to the bathroom every time, however if he has underwear or diaper in he’ll go in those at this point. Looking forward to when he goes every time, but glad for “free” times at home and less diaper usage.

    • September 25, 2015 at 1:24 am

      D was potty trained at home before he was two, but we couldn’t get his daycare to take the promised $10/week potty training fee mentioned in her paperwork. Without the reinforcement, he backslid at home, too. We spent more than an extra year on it, finally done about a month after he went to a school with mandatory potty breaks for all. 🙂

      Some months ago, Anthony told me about parents using the “free” method to potty train. It sounded like the wildest thing then. Now … it’s clear that’s going to be our approach. The whole “poop” thing happened because J was airing out between diapers. Like your second, he’ll use the diaper if it’s on him!

  6. September 24, 2015 at 9:50 pm

    Hooray for poop! 😄

    I wish we would have tried signing with BG. She’s 15 months and is coming along with her words, though, which I am keeping a list of on my phone for now 😄 Her latest feat was tattling on me to her daddy for telling her no: “Daddy, Mommy NO NO!” while looking upset. I so love this age! Well all ages, but watching them learn those first few words is really something.

    • September 25, 2015 at 1:26 am

      This made me giggle. J tries to tattle, but he does it by pointing with a very particular howl. :p

      I, too, love this age. I’m excited for the prospect of everything J’ll tell me when he has more words, but not to the point of wanting to hurry it along. It’s so sweet to watch toddlers demonstrate each new word learned! (And, in J’s case, to listen to him walking around, still, singing, “Ashes, ashes.” Grim words, sweet voice!)

  7. September 25, 2015 at 1:11 am

    this takes me back about 19 years!! It is so thrilling watching your little ones grow in every way. Now my youngest gives me marriage counselling!! And boy- he is good!!

    • September 25, 2015 at 1:28 am

      This got me chuckling. I wonder what advice my boys will be giving at 19?! I know D already gives great driving advice days short of six: “Calm down, Mom. It’s OK. We’ll get where we’re going!”

  8. September 25, 2015 at 4:54 am

    Woo hoo! Go, Littler J!! Go, Deborah!

    • September 26, 2015 at 7:16 am

      Yesterday, he stopped what he was doing, looked at me and signed, “Please, food.” OH! So exciting as a word lover to see him finding his own! 😀

  9. September 25, 2015 at 5:05 am

    I still recall when C finally pooped on the potty the first time. Not because it was her first poop, but rather because I knew the endless supply of diapers I was purchasing was soon going to subside! Happy days indeed. Now all I get is backtalk, sass and attitude, lol She is sooooooo my daughter 🙂

    • September 26, 2015 at 7:24 am

      Heh. D is about to turn six, and he’s already saying things that make me go, “But I thought that was supposed to happen when you were a teenager!” I guess it’s better for it to happen in little bits and bursts, so it’s not an overnight thing resulting in defenestration of a suddenly totally foreign human being. :p

  10. September 25, 2015 at 8:33 am

    I honestly thought that A) Mr. T was never going to talk, and B) he was never going to potty train. The reality was, he just couldn’t be bothered. He enjoyed playing too much to be bothered with little things like “words” or “training”. He’d bring me a diaper when he needed changed and he just didn’t verbalize. Until one day at daycare, his favorite teacher was leaving the room the room without him and he yelled “Karlaaaaaa” and hasn’t stopped talking since that day 🙂 Which leads me to C), I’m very happy for poop.

    • September 26, 2015 at 7:36 am

      “He couldn’t be bothered” is exactly right! At first, I was surprised when he indicated he understood something … like when I’d ask Anthony, “Where are his shoes?” and J would bring me his shoes. They helped me see that his quiet didn’t mean it wasn’t all in there. He just didn’t feel like talking about it. 🙂

  11. September 25, 2015 at 8:44 am

    Poop – there it is

    • September 26, 2015 at 7:37 am

      I didn’t get this when I read it yesterday morning. Today, I glanced at it and immediately heard the tune. :p

      • September 26, 2015 at 7:48 am

        I also found myself singing poop, I did it again which made me laugh

  12. September 25, 2015 at 2:57 pm

    That’s how you know he is trying to show you he’s bigger and ready for the real world.
    BTW good job little J! 🙂

  13. September 25, 2015 at 7:38 pm

    Wow! Very exciting! It’s wonderful watching our kids make new discoveries!

    • September 26, 2015 at 7:39 am

      It is! I know for some of my non-parent friends, it’s like, “Wow, so he said a word.” But when you’ve seen a tiny human go from being able to do little but cry and poop, each new milestone is a wonder to behold.

  14. cardamone5
    September 26, 2015 at 5:44 am


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