The Boy

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I will bet cold, hard cash

…that I am the only person who has ever had these conversations with an almost-3-year-old. (I’m not saying you haven’t have weirder or funnier ones, mind you, and in fact if you have, I feel strongly that you should post them here in my comments section.)

During a car trip:

W: I conducted my music very badly before.
Me: Oh, you did? Sorry. When was this?
W: This was when I was in my place called Pasadena. And I had a band, and I conducted Double-Decker Bus [one of his original compositions].
Me: That sounds great! Was it fun?
W: Yes! I had trombones, and a sousaphone, and tympani.
Me: Oh, cool! Where was I? At work?
W: You were not there because you were at your very own preschool!
Me: Wow, bummer.

[subject changes for a few minutes, and then]

W: Oh! There were snare drums in my band also!
Me: There were? Who played them?
W: What?
Me: Who was your snare-drum player?
W: [two beats] John Phillip Sousa.

Me: Do you want to watch some videos on the computer?
W: Yes!
Me: How about some Sesame Street?
W: How about Richard Thompson?
Me: Um… Richard Thompson? Really?
Me: Well, OK!

[I will provide the video for those of you who wish to fully experience the rest of the conversation in context.]

W: Why is he wearing a hat?
Me: Probably because it looks good on him?
W: Why is his guitar brown? I thought he had a green guitar.
Me: He does! He has a lot of different guitars!
W: What is this song called?
Me: 1952 Vincent Black Lightning.
W: Whaaaaat?
Me: Would you rather call it Vincent Black Lightning?
W: YES! … What is he talking about?
Me: Well, it’s a story about a guy and his girl and his motorcycle.
W: Ohhhhh.

[long pause]

W: What’s happening now?
Me: Well, uh, he gave his motorcycle to his girl.
W: Why?
Me: [making mental note not to pick song about violent death next time] Because he loves them both a lot.

[The song's pretty much over, so I scroll down to see what other RT videos are available.]

W: Wait! Go back up! I wanna see the picture! Did his little girlfriend come over?

I love that he built in his own plotline, complete with preschool-level suspense.

So what strange behavior is your child exhibiting?

I’m a Sweet, Beautiful Pig

We’ve been fairly deeply immersed in the land of multiple identities here at the homestead. W. is turning out to be the Daniel Day-Lewis of toddlers, selecting a role and then not breaking character (or allowing anyone else to do so) for weeks on end. Why, for a full month, we were the stars of Maggie and the Ferocious Beast: I was Maggie, W. was her pig friend Hamilton, and R. was, of course, The Ferocious Beast.

Some dialogue:

“Come here and let Mommy put your shoes on.”
“You’re Maggie!”

“Hey, whatcha doin’, cute boy?”
“I’m a cute PIG.”

All. Day. Long. (Perhaps needless to say, the entry title also comes from this part of the story.) (Less needless to say, I had not called him a sweet, beautiful boy. He may have been saving up adjectives.)

But it really got special when you took into consideration that (a) he was referring to his father as The Beast, and (b) we have to live in the world, which has other people in it. For instance, the helpful lady who worked at the pharmacy and tried to do her part to stomp out toddler lollygagging by telling W. “Sounds like your daddy’s calling you!” He looked up at her, flashed his sweetest smile, and corrected her: “He’s a beast!”

Also, if you happened to be at Santa Monica Beach a few weeks back and saw a frazzled-looking redhead chasing a small blond urchin and hollering, “No, honey! We can’t keep walking! We have to go see the beast!”? There was totally nothing weird going on there.

For a while, he became a wrecking-beam clown. You don’t know what that is, do you? Neither did I, so I asked. A wrecking-beam clown is “a monster you want to stay out of the way of.” His father was also a wrecking-beam clown. Me? I’m “Puppet.”

There’s nothing quite so validating as putting a bottle of dip on the dinner table and having your 2-year-old exclaim, “Salad dressing! Good puppet!”

I intentionally steered him toward Jack’s Big Music Show then (“you can be Jack, and I’ll be Mary, and your dad can be Mel, and Grandma L. can be Laurie Berkner!” How could a kid pass that up?) because it involved less explaining – like, why we would name an innocent child Hamilton and how my husband is not actually a beast. It didn’t take care of the problem of having people think I let my toddler call me by my first name (no! he calls me by OTHER people’s first names!), but I think I’m still ahead.

The fun part is, every time he calls me Mommy is as exciting as the very first time was.

Displaying a surprising grasp of marketing…

The lyrics to the song that W. composed to avoid eating dinner tonight:

Zo-e wanna be Elmo
Zo-e gotta be Elmo
ELmo gotta beeeeeeeeeeee…. ELmo!

Being Two Years Old: The Essence.

Me: “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when skies are gray/You’ll never know dear, how much I love you, please don’t take my sunshine away.”

W: “Actually, Mommy, I AM going to take your sunshine away.”

And so it’s about… his art?

We had another hitting incident at the Remo drum circle yesterday. This one mystified me, as usually W’s victims have at least looked at him funny. This kid was just standing there when W. hit him in the arm with his drumstick.

“Why did you hit that kid, anyway?” I asked him (after reading him the riot act).

“I was using dat widdle boy as a cwash cymbal.”

Oh. Great.

I mean, it’s not like we haven’t had to give the people-are-not-drums talk a few times, but never before for such a specific reason.

Sorry it’s been quiet ’round here… we’ve had company in our wee little room and that doesn’t leave much time or space for writing. Quick update: Everyone’s reasonably healthy, I’ve got a bunch of potential employment situations in the works, and… well, that’s about it in a nutshell. Fascinating minutiae to come.

Being nice.

W. has problems with impulse control sometimes. He’ll be fine for months and then blam, people (mostly me) start gettin’ hit. I’m about 80% sure this coincides with physical growth spurts – not that it’s an excuse, but I think it’s the reason.

And so, along with the negative consequences (which are completely ineffective when used alone with my particular kid), we reintroduce the concept of the Super Reward – 24 hours of no hitting, no hurting and no being mean and he gets to pick out a medium-sized toy. That’s how we transition out of these phases. It goes a lot more quickly this way.

This afternoon, he said he was ready to try for one. For the next two hours, he sat in his play area playing quietly, except that every five minutes or so, he’d sing out, “So far, so gooo-ood! I am just putting balls in dis truck and dere is no being mean at all.

And you know it’s so important not to laugh. And you don’t laugh. And you wonder if you will rupture an internal organ, with the not laughing.

And that’s pretty much how life goes, until suddenly he’s two inches taller and much more pleasant.


If you’re in the northern part of the Los Angeles area and looking for something to do tomorrow, the Multicultural Festival at Moorpark College is free and might be interesting. W.’s favorite band (we like them too!), Masanga Marimba Ensemble, is playing in the late AM, and there’s lots of other musical contents that looks interesting, along with things such as lectures on bird flu that we will probably not attend.

Masanga has a few other free shows coming up, as well. They’re well worth checking out.


I would like to register a complaint about children’s television. I believe it is a complaint that nobody has ever made about children’s television. It is about cable network Noggin. Noggin: would you please, for the love of all things fluffy, do some damn merchandising already?

All of W.’s favorite shows, with the possible exception of Sesame Street, are on Noggin. When we had our very own apartment, with our very own cable service, their total lack of merch was mildly annoying; I’d think, “Why is there not a Jack’s Big Music Show CD?” (I realize there are Laurie Berkner CDs; my kid’s not so much into the Berkner.) Or while making a list of birthday or Christmas gifts, I’d think he’d really love pretty much anything Oobi-related, too bad no such thing exists. Then I’d move on to checking toy trucks for small, dangerous parts.

Living in a Holiday Inn with a very limited version of Dish TV, we have no Noggin. My kid hadn’t seen Oobi in months when, last week, he decided that he is Oobi, I am Uma, his father is Grampu, and his Grandma L. is, naturally, Oobi’s hip black friend Keiko. We’ve been the Oobi family pretty much constantly since.

Did you know that, as far as I’ve been able to tell from poking around on the net, there are no DVDs of Noggin shows? No downloadable episodes? They don’t even have many shorts on the website, and 90% of the ones they do have are from network mascots Moose and Zee. (90% of the ones that weren’t Moose and Zee? Laurie Berkner!)

They do have some games to play online that are kind of related to the shows, which is nice. I’ll give them that one.

There have been many things about parenthood that have been vastly different from my expectations. This one might top them all. I really never thought I’d be bemoaning the lack of licensed-character merchandise for children.

Words of the Week: Always and Happy.

Like most little kids, W. has been behind on some milestones and ahead on others. But when it comes to talking, it’s been early and often, and as a result I haven’t really had time to keep up with documenting all the verbal cuteness.

So I thought this would be a good time to take a shot at documenting at least a few favorites regularly (weekly? Well, we’ll see.).

“Always” is in heavy use, usually in the service of adorableness: At the park, he was very involved in talking to and “feeding” a turtle statue. I told him that being nice to turtles was a very good thing to do. He got up, a big smile on his face, gave my legs a big hug, and said, “I will be nice to turtles always.”

But this morning, we had a prime example of the darker side of always. His first act after waking was to demand a cookie and upon refusal, burst into tears and wail, “I want cookies instead of breakfast always!” You and me both, kid. You and me both.

“Happy” isn’t showing up in so many original sentences, but it’s the star of my two favorite toddler colloquialisms. If you ask him to do something and the answer is not “NNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!,” odds are it will be, “I would happy to!” And if he needs to greet you – and he will need to greet you a lot, whether you have been apart for more than five seconds or not – it will likely be with a perky, “It’s happy to see you!”

And here’s a bonus happy from yesterday, as delivered through copious tears: “I don’t need a nap! I am happy instead of cwanky!”

In retrospect, this was probably inevitable.

I’m afraid my toddler has gone Hollywood.

Over dinner at the Farmers’ Market this evening:

W: [makes horrible science-fiction monster noise] Mommy! I’m a SCARY puppet bear! AND, I’m a producer!*

Me: A producer? Really? What are you going to produce?

W: Actually, Mommy? I’m not going to produce anything.

I’m not sure whether we should start working on his BS skills or just be impressed that at his tender age he’s so much more realistic than many other producers I have met.

*Not to interrupt the flow of the conversation, but: a producer? The hell? Between this and his walking around with a straw hanging out of his mouth announcing that he’s “smoking” when he doesn’t even know anyone that smokes, I’m beginning to wonder if my toddler has a secret life.

Rebel rebel.

Today, over lunch, while his dad was flipping channels:


“You want to watch golf?”

“I wanna watch people talking about golf.”

My first thought was, “How could someone have mixed up babies at the hospital when he was with me the whole time?”

My second was, “Well, at some point kids need to find a way to rebel against everything their parents hold dear. Such as NOT WATCHING PEOPLE TALKING ABOUT GOLF.”