I felt pushed to the wall. I really wasn't thinking clearly. One one night at a campfire with my PePa I abruptly – out of nowhere – asked him to stop using Baby Talk with me.
Almost immediately, I could see his hurt. Like a slap to his face.
I didn't really want PePa to stop. I loved how he spoke to me. But I just wanted the kids at school to leave me alone. (Like it was any of their business.)
PePa didn't speak to me for a few minutes after I said this to him at the campfire.
I realized how much I had hurt my beloved grandfather. And the thought of being the source of any pain for him was too much for me.
I started bawling at the top of my lungs and sprinted up to PePa and apologized to him about it over and over. I hugged him as tightly as I could.
A few minutes later, we both were having fun again, drinking Dr. Pepper and acting like nothing had happened.
The morale of this story is:, Baby Talk IS NOT a stupidity-inducer. It's a special language shared by a loving parent or grandparent with his or her child. It's a soothing way of speaking that immediately lets a stressed-out kiddo know that everything is all right. There's nothing to fear. Daddy is here. PePa is here.
I really don't know when PePa – who died suddenly of a heart attack on Christmas Day, 1983 – stopped speaking Baby Talk to me after that.
Who knows? Maybe he never stopped.
But the minute I had a child of my own to converse with, I used that Baby Talk voice patterned directly after my PePa's,
As children, we yearn to grow up quickly – little knowing or understanding the stresses that lay ahead of us on the adult trail. As adults, we ultimately realize we should have savored every minute of our young years.