Monkey See, Monkey Do

Posted by: , October 23, 2010 in 2:56 pm

IFather+Doesnt+Know+Best+ +Monkey Monkey See, Monkey Dot has been said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If that’s true, then I should be extremely flattered, because my daughter has recently taken up mimicking everything that my wife and I do and say. In some cases the mimicry is sweet, in most cases it’s funny, and occasionally her mimicry borders on the inappropriate.  Yesterday, she tried to imitate the sound of me burping.

Several months ago, my daughter used to imitate our family dogs, by trying to drink out of their food bowls and pick things up with her mouth, but luckily she has fallen out of that practice. I’m sure it was somewhat confusing for her since there was an even number of adult humans and dogs in the house, but I’m glad that she’s finally mimicking us instead (even if she occasionally gives kisses with her tongue hanging out.)

At first, the mimicry started with her early attempts at speech, where she would attempt to imitate the sounds that we were making, in an effort to communicate with us. While she learned the meaning and usage of some words early on, like “more” for when she wants something as well as the names of some of her body parts and clothing items. As her vocabulary has expanded she has figured out how to pronounce some words without a solid concept of their meaning, like saying “thank you” both when I hand her something, as well as when she hands something back to me.

I had to laugh the other day when my daughter called me “Honey” out of nowhere, which is what my wife often calls me, (she usually spares my real name for when I’m in trouble) and I tried to correct her but she just started chanting “Honey” and laughing. However, my favorite words that she is learning to repeat are “love you” which she is getting pretty good at saying when we say it to her, which is quite often.

The times that my daughter really cracks me up is when she imitates nonsense. Usually, when I get home from work I’ll grab my daughter, throw her on my shoulders, and run around the house and backyard with her while making silly noises, which she imitates from her perch on my shoulders. Then, when my body runs out of steam (which doesn’t take long) and I lay down in the middle of the floor, she climbs up on my back and starts making the same silly sounds that I was just making, in an attempt to get me up and running again.

Although, when not used for our entertainment, my daughter’s ability to mimic me has actually come in pretty handy. She now knows where the trash can is and how to throw things away (although trash isn’t always the only thing she tries to throw away), and she even likes to help feed the dogs at dinner time (although she can’t always remember the difference between the empty food bowl and a full water bowl when pouring the dog food.)

I also realize that she is slowly becoming more cognizant of the world around her, and that she often tries to mimic new sounds without much warning, meaning that the inevitable “first swear” milestone may be fast approaching if I don’t make a conscious effort to watch my mouth. We had a near miss of that milestone a few days ago, when we were all leaving the house and my wife had forgotten something and said “oh shoot”, which my daughter immediately repeated.

Luckily, my wife has the stage-mouth of Martha Stewart, or we could have had a much more inappropriate moment on our hands. Unfortunately, I can’t control what my daughter hears when we are out in public, so I fear that the day when she innocently (but inevitably) swears for the first time may be close at hand.

I’m not really sure why the mimicry has become so frequent lately. Maybe my daughter’s brain has finally caught up on it’s job of growing the body through the first year, and now it’s taking the time to learn more about the world around it. Whatever the reason is, I think it’s a good thing. I finally feel like I’m teaching my daughter new things, even if she’s just imitating my bodily noises.


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