Sunday, April 6, 2008

What's in a name

October 10, 2007

We stopped counting your vocabulary because it’s so big. When we’re driving you’ll yell out “MIX!” when we pass a cement mixer, or “under the bridge!” when we’re about to pass underneath. There’s a sculpture of a red elephant on New Hampshire Avenue that we pass every day. You see it and say “red eleshant!” and one beat later, “more red eleshant?” You most frequently express this desire for repeat visitation with vehicles. When we pass a fire truck, you always ask “more fire truck?” Sometimes you’ll add an adjective, like when we see a Metro bus and it leads you to ask, “school bus?” Then you’ll ask, “blue school bus?” And I’ll say “let’s look for a blue school bus.” You’ll add other things, and I repeat a list, until I’m saying something like, “Okay, let’s look for a blue school bus, and a man, and a lady, and a bicycle, and a yellow truck, and an ambulance.” When you’re satisfied we’ve built the list you say “yeah. Yep. Yep.” And then we keep looking – for more horses, which leads us to look for cows; for birds flying, which lead to looking for airplanes and maybe helicopters; and this is how you stay occupied and happy in the car, along with dictating our music. (Your current favorite: “Name-oh.” Known to the rest of the world as B.I.N.G.O. As soon as you hear the dog barking in the lead-in to the song, you always yell, “Name-oh coming!”)

Today’s addendum

You also called “Twinkle, twinkle little star” by a phrase from the middle of the lyrics - for the longest time you called it “How I why-why,” which was later more carefully pronounced “how I wonder.” You were already letting the car DJ know you wanted “How I why-why” when we went to the beach for Shavuot. You were about sixteen months then. And the alphabet song wasn’t known by A.B.C., as it is for most kids; you always had to add a little more, and call it A.B.C.D. You’re twenty-six months old and counting now, and even though you speak in paragraphs you refer to Old Macdonald’s Farm as E.I.O. There's the popular Ipsy Bipsy Spider. And you call your favorite song BLAH BLAH Black Sheep, which makes me laugh every time. Pin It

Pig on her Head and pillows on her ears

Last Sunday we had tickets to see Laurie Berkner at Strathmore. Laurie (she's on a first-name basis in our house) is E's favorite musician. "I love Lauwee ALL DAY, Mama!" We've been looking forward to this for months; I bought the tickets about a week after L was born. I think we knew even at the time of purchase that such an occasion might provide too much sensory overload, but we became a lot more nervous about seeing Laurie after our experience during Purim.

So I started my prep work. I started talking to E about going to see Laurie, and she's going to sing all her favorite songs, and yes she's going to sing "marching marching" (We are the Dinosaurs), and yes, Laurie will fall asleep on the floor for that song, just like she does on the computer (on YouTube), and yes, you can wake her up. And yes, she'll sing the shimmy-shimmy song (Down, Down Baby), too, and of course she'll sing Pig on Her Head, because she likes to make all of the animal noises with you. And there are going to be lots and lots of people there, and it's because they love Laurie, too, and lots of kids will be singing and dancing and clapping and stomping, and you can dance, too. And it might get loud with all those people dancing and clapping, but it's only because they love Laurie, too, and they all want to sing along. And if it gets too loud you just tell me and we can take a walk until we're ready to go back in. I more or less repeated that verbatim for several nights.

Then Saturday night I struck mental gold. And I told E that if it got too loud we would have something she could put in her ears to make the noise quieter. And she didn't understand what I was saying so I explained that it was like trying to listen through a pillow; that the noise would be there, but it would be smaller. She said, "I have pillows for my ears?" And I said we'd have them with us if she needed them. And she immediately said, "I need them." I told her it might not be very loud at all. She repeated, “I need them, Mama.” So during her nap on Sunday morning M went to Rite-Aid and bought kiddie sized ear plugs for swimming. They have the consistency of silly putty, and in fact really look like little pillows. And when she woke up we all got in the car.

And we got to Strathmore and E had no problems with the crowds, but when we entered the auditorium and she heard the buzz of conversations and looked down from our balcony entrance into the huge space, she started to cry. But she kept bravely walking forwards down the steps, which means this was something she must have really wanted to do, because otherwise she would have frozen in place. And long before the music started, per her request, we had her pillows in place. All through the show, E continued to reach up and verify the presence of her ear plugs. She danced a little, and clapped and stomped a little, but mostly kept very close to me, looking serious. But so attentive. Her eyes barely left the stage. During one song she didn’t know we took a brief walk, but reentered the auditorium when Pig on her Head began. And she shook her purple Laurie Berkner Band Shaky Egg overpriced consignment stand tchotchke at every opportunity for all she was worth. So she did great. And so did L, who slept through the whole thing on M’s shoulder.

But we still weren’t sure if E truly enjoyed herself, or if she just endured the experience. Until that evening at bedtime and the next days in the car, when she wouldn’t stop talking about it, and suddenly the six-disc changer became the All Lauwee Jukebox. "Lauwee fell asleep and I yell 'Lauwee wake up!', Mama!" "We saw Lauwee and we sing songs and we dance and I have pillows on my ears and we sing songs, Mama!" I asked her if we should go see Laurie again next time she comes. "Where'd Lauwee go, Mama?" And then she answered her own question. "Lauwee's at the office, Mama. Lauwee's working." But we ascertained that yes, she'd like to see Laurie again when she started asking about getting another shaky egg. I told her she can get one more shaky egg next time we see Laurie, and I asked her if she's going to want another purple one, or if she wants a different color. "A new color, Mama." "What new color should we get you?" "PUWPUHL!!" Pin It