by Tina Blue
January 21, 2004

          When toddlers are starting to learn language, they sometimes get their signals crossed.

          One day when my daughter Becky was 15 months old I heard a strange thumping sound coming from my bedroom.  I went back there to find her and her brother Michael, then almost three, sitting on my bed softly bumping their heads against the wall.  Each time their heads would thump the wall, they would burst into giggles. 

          I watched for a moment, to make sure they weren't hitting the wall hard enough to do themselves any harm, and then I shook my head at them and laughed.  "Dope," I snickered.

          About a week later, Becky came running down the hall toward me, but stumbled and fell sideways into the wall, bumping her head.  As she stood up and rubbed her head, she turned toward me and said, "Dope, Mommy, dope!"

          When I had said "Dope" at her and Michael for smacking their heads against the wall, she had assumed that the word "dope" was the label for what they were doing.  So later, when she accidentally bumped her head on the wall, she called it by that very name: "Dope."

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