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What on earth is he trying to say?

Kids are like kidnappers. They hijack your life, make impossible demands, and then kill you anyway. These days though, we're having trouble figuring out exactly what these demands are.

Conor has just turned two, but he lives in the valley of lost consonants. We had the district nurse in last week and she said at this stage he should have about 200 words. He does, but most of them are in Swahili or might as well be. He chatters away all day, but the only words that are understandable do not reflect too well on our parenting.

Okay, he's got "Daddy". Great. He's also got "pease" (for please) and "ank-u" (for thank you). In fact, he says thank you more readily than any other kid I've met. He's also got "No" -- what toddler doesn't? But he calls his mother "Baba".

He's also got biscuit ("biskis"), sweet ("'weet"), more ("mo"), Calpol ("kalol") TV ("bibi") and SpongeBob SquarePants ("SpongeBob SquarePants").

It annoys his mother no end that he can say SpongeBob but can't say Mammy. He even has sentences: "Pease Daddy, mo 'weet."

The nurse suggested when offering him anything, give him a choice, to force him to say something rather than pointing.

So, for example, I say: "Conor, would you like a banana or an apple?"

"Pease Daddy, mo 'weet," says Conor.

Generally, he has no trouble making himself understood. For example, the other day at dinner time, he more or less told me to shove those boiled carrots up my a**e. He's the only one in the house with a designated chair in the living room, the one closest to the TV. And woe betide anyone who sits in it. He climbed into it yesterday and said something which roughly translated came out as: "Turn on the effin' TV or I will not be responsible for the consequences."

If either of the other two have anything that he wants, he just takes it. He's like one of those bad hombres in a western, terrorising the civilised townspeople with his primitive ways. He'd kill for a balloon.

But then sometimes you really feel for him. He'll come in to me and deliver a short sincere speech, then wait for me to respond. "I'm sorry dude," I tell him. "I haven't the first clue what you're saying." So he gets annoyed and repeats himself and I'm there straining to make some sense from all this gibberish.

On the other hand, if what the other two come out with is anything to go by, you wonder if there's any point trying to understand him. I mean, his older brother Mike, who's five, never shuts up. There are times when you need to slip off to the bathroom and sit in there for five minutes with the lights off just to escape the constant barrage: "Who's your favourite superhero? Why is Wolverine your favourite superhero? But he can't fly. What's Wolverine's real name? Why don't you know?"

So Conor will be taking a trip to the speech therapist, when the appointment eventually comes through. The way things are going, he'll probably pull the guy's hair and demand "kalol".