The Two-by-Four Argument


I’m guessing my nephew is the only child who ever intentionally gave himself a speech impediment to win an argument.

He was a bright little kid, and ornery as the dickens. He loved teasing his mom and would go to great lengths to out-argue her. And, because he was so dang cute about it, we let him get away with almost everything.

IMG_0012.jpgSo, about a month before his 4th birthday, his mom started telling him it was time for some changes. She said that when he turned 4, he had to start sleeping in his own bed. He had to get fully dressed every day instead of running around in his underwear. And, by the way, he also had to wear everything correctly. (He liked to wear his Underoos backward so he could see the Superhero characters. You’ve gotta be skinny to pull off that move!)

The boy was having none of it. He told her a flat no to all her requests.

She held firm and told him that all 4-year-olds wear pants. It was the law.

This is where the kid put his imagination to work. He announced to everyone that he wasn’t turning four. He was turning two-two.

We thought this was going to be short-lived, but he kept to it the entire year. He even refused to say the word four, and replaced it with two wherever possible.

What’s important to know is that he wasn’t reading & writing at this age, so he had no idea what homophones were. He replaced everything that sounded like four, to interesting results:IMG_0006.jpg

  • Instead of “I got this for you,” he would say, “I got this to you.”
  • Forward became two-ward (not t’wards, like we say in the Midwest, but toowards)
  • A forest was a two-est
  • When evil scientists on his cartoons talked about their evil formula,  he repeated back to the t.v., “evil two-mula.”

The amazing thing was that he never sat down to work all this out – it just came naturally out of his mouth. And it all worked so well in context that we adults just accepted the language shift and moved on.

He grew out of all of this, as kids do.

But I hope I’m around when that kid turns forty. I’m curious whether he’ll spend a year being twenty-twenty.

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