You are three…and I am you and you are me
Bun Bun is three!
And what a three she is. She’s learning to recognize a few words in books (bunny, owl, and–the last one, I was all learn and, it’s everywhere, that will be fun for you), considerably better at negotiating toy exchanges with her brother, cuddly, fond of singing, utterly infuriating…
And she is trapped in an interminable phase of personal pronoun (I, me, mine, you, yours, she, her etc.) reversal. She uses you to express the things that she wants, as in you want to take a shower (meaning, Bun Bun wants to take a shower), and she uses I to express the things that, uh, I want. She’s generally just giving me a line that she’d like me to say, as in I’m sorry I bumped into you.
It’s a fascinating phenomenon to be in the middle of. My boy Vygotsky (oldey-timey Russian developmental psychologist) theorized that children use language to internalize social rules, and saying things to themselves as though someone else were saying them is a part of this process. So when Bun Bun says to herself yes, you can have lots and lots of raisins she’s using self-produced speech to regulate her own thoughts and emotions the way that I used to help her regulate them. She’s taking over from me.
It’s wonderful, but it’s also another step on the journey away from me. Soon she’ll have her own life I know nothing about, her own friends, her own apartment… I showed her some pictures of the day she was born, including one of my belly. You used to be in there, I told her. Don’t WANT to be in there, she replied. Well, you’re not, dear girl, you’re not.