Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Things He Says

Eight! Nine! Fourteen! He is learning numbers, in his own peculiar way. He knows the numbers eight, nine, and fourteen, which he will shout out, countdown-style, at random moments throughout the day. "Eight! Nine! Fow-teen!"

Once, I was putting him to sleep and his eyes had closed tight. Suddenly, he lifted up his head and said softly, "eight, nine." Went right back to sleep after that. I'm guessing he was counting in his sleep.

"Over here! Right there!" These are his versions of "near" and "far." It's hilarious to hear, because he pronounces them with something like a New Yawk accent. "Over heah! Right dere!" I'll be playing with his Legos - by "playing," I mean that I'm putting his Legos together and he's directing me as to where each piece goes. "Right dere!" he shouts excitedly. Next piece? "Right dere," he smiles. "Right dere."

"Daddy, come!" He commands us to join him for very important missions. Like, say, climbing into his kid-sized tent. "Daddy, come!" Or reading stories with him. "Mommy, come!" Or just walking around the house at his whim. "Daddy? Mommy? Daddy? Mommy? Daddy? Mommy? Come! Daddy, mommy, come!"
He says this, too, in the funniest way - long on the vowel, and resonant. It sounds like he's summoning us, in the most anachronistic, 19th century way imaginable. We are his servants, and he our benevolent dictator.

He's tried this command with Chloe and is shocked that she can refuse him. "Chloe, come!" he demands of her, trying to entice her off the couch or coax her out of his tent. She has not once obeyed him. I tried to explain to him that obeying is not a cat's strong suit, but he doesn't quite get it yet.

Repeating everything. And I mean everything. I've said five-syllable words before and heard him try to repeat them. He repeats back the oddest phrases, and picks up on the strangest concepts. One morning, he brought all of his stuffed animals from the playroom into the living room and onto the couch. Mrs. B asked if he was bringing out his buddies, and he absorbed the word immediately. "More buddies," he'd say, carrying an armful of stuffed bears and cats.

Shortly thereafter, he got the idea to put all of his "buddies" back into the playroom. All the while, saying to himself, "put buddies away." An armload at the time, he hauled all of his "buddies" back into the playroom.

Another example - today I was playing the killer new album by Los Straitjackets, and he was rocking out to it - dancing, wiggling around, wild-eyed. So I asked him if he was rocking out, and he repeated, "rock out." Then he started wiggling around in front of our cat Chloe.

"Oliver, are you trying to get kitty to rock out?"

"Chloe. Rock out," he commanded in all seriousness, while still wiggling around. Chloe, alas, refused to rock out in any discernible way.

The Magic Word. We have tried to teach him that the magic word is "please." So when he's demanding something from one of us - say, if he asks me fifteen times to move across the couch - I'll ask him to use the magic word. "Move, pease," he says finally, and I scoot over on the couch to make room for him.

But the real magic word for him is another word. It's the one word that can coax him to getting his diaper changed, and the only word that can instantly bring a smile to his face, whatever the situation.

That word is "naked."

Our baby is a flasher. He loves running naked around the house (well, he's usually got on a diaper), shouting "naked! Naked!" And he loves it when other people get naked, too. When Mrs. B or I need to change our clothes, he asks with a glint in his eye, "naked?" When he sees one of us without clothes, he giggles with mad delight.

I don't know what this portends for his future, but it's fun for now. If he's seventeen years old and still loves to run around naked, giggling like a schoolgirl, it'll be a whole different story.

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