I think I realized that we had entered a new language/thought phase just around the time my four-year-old–cocooned in a bolt of black velor I’d originally bought for her Darth Vader cape (unused because it made her look more like Liberace than Lord Vader)–said, “I’m so cozy I cannot even stand it at all.” It wasn’t just the coziness. It was hunger, deliciousness, joy, whatever: beginning a few weeks ago, her speech suddenly started including superlatives at every turn. “This is the most delicious thing that I ever seen,” she might say about something that frankly wasn’t that delicious, “and I think I might die right this minute.”
Before you know it, she’ll start sounding like Single Dad Laughing: “Today,” she’ll tell me when she wakes up in the morning, “will be the most important, inspiring 24 hours I’ve ever spent on this earth and I just know you’ll be moved beyond belief at how incredible it will be. I’m crying just thinking about how amazing this journey will be.”
I suppose this hot-bloodedness is good news. A new report shows that people who are “chilled out” or have blunted reaction to stimuli and stress tend to struggle more with obesity and depression (although there might be some chicken-and-egg problems with that kind of study–depressed people have depressed responses!). But still, my daughter has tended to diffidence and caution, so I’m glad to see her responding strongly to her own emotions.
But that’s the question (the most important question ever!) for all of you who know four-year-olds better than I do: is her new language just new language? Put another way: is she feeling more powerful emotions now or is she just describing the same emotions more powerfully?