Sometimes when I am snuggling and playing with my kids I catch myself talking nonsense motherese, but now that N is older he is starting to catch me when I don’t realize I am doing it. For example, I was talking to G while N played nearby when he suddenly came over and in a high-pitched voice said to G, “you’re so cutesies,” while wrinkling his nose and wiggling his fingers as if tickling her. I realized he was mimicking me and then as he burst into a cackle, that he was mocking me. Although N thinks almost anything is funny if you say it to G in falsetto. When on his own he usually says things like “you have poopies,” and then runs away hysterically laughing.
Besides noting what I say to G, he is increasingly aware what I do. Most importantly, he sees both his parents performing caregiving duties and so he is incorporating child-rearing activities into his gender role schema. He puts a ball under his shirt and pretends it is a baby, “cooks” dinner in his play kitchen, hugs and rocks his Cabbage Patch doll, and changes the diaper on his Mer-Man figurine. He is gentle and sweet. I know that as he gets older he will help us with these tasks and in caring for his little sister.
He is beginning to share with G and often asks that she participate in his play. He has already started to designate which of his trucks he wants her to have (not entirely magnanimous, he relegated the squeaky one to her first). I am looking forward to the day when G is able to play with him and I can see their relationship grow. They will both then be able to copy me when I am exemplary and mock me when I am goofy. I expect that they will keep me in check and give me some perspective and in turn I anticipate that I will embarrass them often. I will likely still be talking to them in motherese, long after it is age-appropriate, but I can’t help it because they are so cutesies!