Little Too Big

As Cameron’s language skills have been developing, we have gotten to a point as a family where we can pretty much understand everything he is trying to express. At times though, there have been words that stump us for a long while. “Ridrent” was one. It took me weeks to finally figure out that Cameron was saying “different”. And then he started saying “dickall“, which we deciphered to mean “What’s this called?”. There is one thing that Cameron has been saying lately that has been particularly troubling. Starting a few weeks ago, Cameron began saying “No! Too big!” when there was something that he didn’t like. I could not quite figure it out because whatever he was talking about would never fit into a size context. If we were watching a TV show Cameron didn’t like, he would say “No! Too big!“. If he didn’t want a particular dinner we were feeding him he would reply with “No! Too big!“. For a while, I wondered if someone had taught my son to say “stupid”. But no, he was definitely saying “too big“.

“You know why he is saying things are too big, right?” my husband asked.

No. I didn’t. Not at all. So Dan explained to me how it started. Every night before bed, Cameron gets 3 books read to him. Often, Cameron picks out these books. His shelf is full of books – board books and paper books and touch-and-feel books and lift-the-flap books. Many of the books are perfect for his little imagination. He might be starting to grow out of the few baby books included on his shelf, however. And there are some books which are just a little too old for him right now. The word-to-picture ratio on these ones are too high and the length is just a little more than a two-year-old can handle right before bed.

Cameron reading in his crib

One night recently, while Dan was getting Cameron ready for bed, Cameron asked that his third book of the evening be one of these long, wordy books. So Dan replied, “No buddy, I’m sorry. That book is just too big.” And somehow, with that statement, a switch was turned in Cameron’s head. “Too big” meant “not the right one“. It meant “That’s not what I want.” It meant “wrong“. So now, when Cameron says “too big”, he means something that he definitely does not want. But, Cameron isn’t the only one who says “too big”. I say it all the time too.

“Cameron, don’t sit in Gavin’s chair, you’re too big!”

“Cameron, you can’t put all your weight on the baby, you’re too big!”

“Cameron, I can’t carry you all the time, you’re too big!”

“Cameron, look at how much you’ve grown, you’re so big!”

Cameron and Gavin in baby chairs

Cameron is my big boy. I want him to be proud about that. He is so much more able and accomplished than his baby brother currently is. He can do so much more than Baby Gavin can. But also, he needs to be extra careful, extra gentle now that a baby is around. His bigness isn’t a curse, but a wonderful blessing that opens up so many opportunities. But every time I say these things to him, is he hearing something different? Is he hearing that he isn’t right? It he hearing that I don’t want him? Is he hearing that something is wrong with him? It is wonderful watching his little mind work. I love how the pieces fit together, I love seeing him take things from our daily life to use in his every day. But this? This is a miscommunication in the worst way. Cameron is not too anything. He is not too big. He still has a lot of little left. He is not too little though either. No, he is just right. I hope he knows that.

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About Laura O'Rourke

Laura is a Mom of three who lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Currently on maternity leave, she blogs about life at home with her husband Dan and three sons Cameron (age 5), Gavin (age 3), and Logan (not yet 1). When she has time, she can be found reading, writing, snapping photos, or awkwardly running. Laura has been recognized as one of Canada's Top 10 Mom Bloggers by multiple publications, including Reader's Digest. Keep up with the fun by following @LauraORourke on Twitter or liking Mommy Miracles on Facebook. Like what you see? Have something to add? Be sure to leave a comment!


  1. Ahhh….would that we would all understand that we are “just right”…. a concept still often elusive for me.

    • Yes, definitely. I like that you took this from the post. I clearly wasn’t thinking clearly enough to draw this “moral of the story” out of it! :)

      And you, Mom, are “just right!” Take it from me! xo
      Laura recently posted..Little Too BigMy Profile

  2. Oh man, what a miscommunication! I really hope he doesn’t think that every time you mention the word big!

  3. Awww…it’s so hard sometimes to know how they will take things…you just have no idea that they will take it the wrong way. I think this with Nolan all the time.
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  4. As his language skills develop further, he will know that ‘big’ does not equate negativity. Just roll with it for now, and where possible, try and ‘correct’ it, maybe substitute big with another word that’s positive?
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    • We try our best to correct it and try to put his “biggness” in a positive context. He doesn’t seem to be upset when we call him big, but still uses that word in such a negative connotation. And somehow he also knows that “big” applies to size too. It is all so very confusing. But he’ll figure it out, eventually… hopefully before he needs counselling! :)

  5. I think you should take that positively that he is starting to understand the meaning of words. And then just show him that the word big doesn’t mean anything negative, or try to substitute it with other words.

  6. Thanks for visiting my part of the internet. It is fascinating how they put together words and ideas, isn’t it? I’m glad your hubby was able to explain the too big for you–that would drive me crazy.
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  7. Audrey Miller says:

    That actually shows that he is learning the meaning of words. I really enjoyed it when my little boy was in that phase.

  8. Mariella Lombardi says:

    Hi Laura, wonderful blog you have here. It is funny how children understand things, I’m sure we were all like that. But I do think that words don’t mean that mush to them right now, it is more the attitude and emotions of adults around them that influence most. So having loving parents is all that a child needs, that is how I remember it anyway:)

  9. LOL, Laura, how do you ever sleep at night with all of the things you worry about? ;) He’s using “too big” right now to say exactly what you’d first thought: “No, not that.” His vocabulary will expand and he’ll learn more precise words in the future… then you’ll be worrying because he said, “Mother, I find myself not in the mood for pasta with cruciferous vegetables tonight. Might I have a slice of whole grain bread spread with natural nut butter and homemade jam instead, please?”

    Okay, maybe not THAT precise but, still…
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