Since I am, for all intents and purposes, thrust into the trenches with two little ones, and I have little to no previous experience or theoretical basis, then it's no wonder I have zero preconceived notions about what kids are "supposed" to be like.
For example: I was at the park, and a mom asked me, "Does she understand what you are saying?" She was referring to my one year old after I had just said, "Harmony, come back here! Thank you." Honestly, it never occurred to me that she would be unable to understand me. Just because a toddler can't form the words doesn't mean they can't understand them.
An analogy is that even though I don't have the first clue how to play the piano, I can definitely listen and appreciate the music.
Like right now, as I'm typing this, I gave the kids some plums, and when Harmony left the kitchen with them, I said, "Harmony, go back in the kitchen. We eat fruit in the kitchen. Kitchen. Go. Thank you." She understood what I said, because not only did she go back in the kitchen, she also put the fruit on her table, then came back out with a big smile.
Combined with the feat that we also took away the pacifier at our kids' first birthday because 1) kids can't learn how to talk with a plug in their mouth and 2) it can be too easily abused by us as a way to get the kids to be quiet, means that not only are they understanding what we are saying, they also have plenty of opportunities to reciprocate.
Now I'm not saying that I'm perfect, or that ignorance is a virtue in this situation (or in any circumstance). Case in point, I was spanked growing up. Originally I thought that corporal punishment was acceptable as a last alternative, when every other tactic had failed.
However, the more experience I've had with kids has lead me to find out that I was wrong, and that my actions, though they worked in the short term, failed to provide any benefits in the long run. In addition, exactly like the torture of prisoners, regardless of whether it's effective, it is immoral. This is a human rights issue. We don't hit adults, so why is it that the littlest among us, who are the most vulnerable and in need of our trust and guidance, should be subjected to such agony?
I am so absolutely ashamed and pained that at one point I thought striking my kid was necessary, it makes me cry whenever I think about it, and all I can do at this point is vow that I will never hit my kids again. In Justin's words, "Spanking is hitting, and hitting is wrong."
Comprehension works both ways.