Please, Nobody Sneeze

Posted by jdg | Wednesday, January 21, 2009 |

Our baby boy is walking; at least, he's doing that ten-step creaky-mummy-emerging-from-the-tomb toddle from mom to dad and dad to mom and sometimes dad to sister or sister to dog. With this new mobility comes a new sense of dread: just when I had grown comfortable thwarting him and his ground-slapping crawl from causing too much damage around the house, he's working on this stealthy bipedal ambulation. Next it will be the grappling hook and the throwing star. I'm screwed.

The kids and I spent part of the afternoon yesterday going through the old DV tapes looking for footage of Juniper's first steps. We didn't find it, but we watched a lot of tape of me ordering my daughter to dance in this desperate and slightly-effeminate voice. I half expect her to turn towards the camera each time and say, "Dude, I am NOT your monkey. Stop telling me to dance." But what comes out of her mouth instead is complete and total gibberish. Somehow, though, the dude with the slightly-effeminate voice is conversing with her and actually responding to all that jibber-jabber. It was like watching a younger version of yourself deftly haggling over the price of red bell peppers with a street vendor in Budapest, except you don't remember knowing any Hungarian. To put it even more simply, it was like watching Han Solo have a conversation with Chewbacca.

I look at my toddling son, not yet having uttered a single word. We still have to go through all that with him, I think. I'd better brush up on my Wookiee.

I remember being so excited watching her language skills evolve into something tangible. I go back and read old posts on this site and sometimes cringe at the things I've put between quotation marks for her. Did she really talk like an Indian sidekick in an old cowboy movie? The video confirms it. As awesome as it was watching her learn to speak, I can't help but appreciate this articulate nearly-four-year-old creature we have now who can communicate in more than yawps and exaggerated groans.

For dinner yesterday I made her spaghetti and meatballs from scratch. She told me she didn't want spaghetti and meatballs but I made it for her anyways and let her help with the sauce. When I finally brought the plate over to the table, I sat down with her and started singing "On Top of Spaghetti." The line "I lost my poor meatball" threw her into hysterics. Between sobs, actual plump tears coursed down her reddened cheeks. "What?" I asked. "What is wrong?"

"I don't like that song, pops!" She yelled. I stopped singing.

After she was about half done with her meal, I started humming it again. I don't know what's wrong with me: sometimes I just can't help myself. She immediately commenced with the wailing and blubbering again. I looked at my wife. I think this is hilarious, too, her eyes and clenched jaw told me. When Wood pretended to sneeze on her meatballs, Juniper practically went into convulsions. "Why don't you like the song, kiddo?" I asked.

"Because my brain doesn't like it when things are 'poor' or when things get lost."

We tried logic. We tried reason. It was just a meatball. It didn't matter. She's a kid. Even if she's able to make a perfect sentence, that doesn't mean she has to make any sense.