Alex role-plays a lot of the complex issues in his life. Very often these games involve him turning the tables on us. For example, he sometimes tells us it’s time to go to bed, and he will lay down a pillow and a blanket for us. Other times, he will say that he is angry with us, and that we have to be sad.
Last week, he told me that I was being very naughty, and that I had to go to my room until I was a better boy. I obediently went through to my room and sat down on the bed, while Alex closed the door on me. He then went through to his own room to giggle and play.
A few minutes later, I stood up and walked to the door. Alex heard me making a noise, and he rushed through to greet me. “No, you caaaan’t come out of your room,” he said, gesticulating with his expressive hands. “You’re not being a haive.”
I wasn’t being a what? A haive? (It rhymes with “slave”.) Was this a new word he had picked up at nursery?
The explanation hit me a moment later. We often tell him that he has to behave. What he has been hearing, however, is us telling him to “be a haive.” His brain had figured out that this strange noun “haive” was equivalent to “good boy.” Which, idiomatically, is mostly true–it’s the grammatical fineries he got mixed up.
Yet another fascinating and funny insight into linguistic development. Our days are filled with them.