Archives for June 2014

Flying Lizards

Today, Anna, you and I ran some errands and went to visit one of my friends, while Mom took Lucas to get some more plants and do some gardening.  On our way there, we saw an airplane towing a banner in the sky.  You asked me what it was, and I told you it was a sign from a lizard about buying insurance.  You then asked me what insurance was, and I had to think about how to explain it in terms a 5-year-old could understand.

So since “marbles” are your unit of financial exchange for deserts, I said that if I crashed my car by accident, it could cost thousands of marbles.  But if I bought insurance, I could get it for 25 marbles, then if I crashed my car they would pay for most of it.  But if I was a good driver and did not have an accident, I would still have to pay the 25 marbles.  You were quiet for a while, and I was not sure if you understood the concept or not.  Then, you spoke up and asked “Why would anybody buy insurance from a lizard?”

That led to a conversation about what “Mascots” are.  They are like pets that are owned by companies rather than by people, and you seemed to accept that one at face value.

Later, at my friend Alisa’s house, we heard a horse.  You wanted to go see it.  Alisa gave you an apple to feed to the horse, but only if the horse’s mom said it was OK.  You said thank you, then we walked out the door towards the horses.  When it was just you and me, you asked me why she said that.  Horses can’t talk, you told me.  So I clarified that she really meant the horse’s owner.

The fascinating thing about all these linguistic questions you ask me is that it brings to light how absolutely complicated our language really is, and most of us take it completely for granted that it makes sense.  You highlight the absurdities of language at face value, and give me the opportunity to communicate “at a level that a 5 year old can understand.”  Except that rather than being burdensome, I find it honing my own skills of communication.  It forces me to continually ask “so, what do I perceive that you just understood from that exchange?”  It forces me to listen to your listening.

But You TOLD Me…

For most of this week, I was in Colorado for school and Mom was on her own with the two of you.  At one point, she was doing some gardening, and you two had a water bucket that you filled from the faucet outside.  Then mom told you to leave the faucet off, which normally would have meant no more filling the bucket.  Well, except that you then took your bucket inside to fill it instead, and in the process tracked quite a bit of mud inside.

Eventually, the two of you were completely covered in mud, so mom had you disrobe at the threshold to the sliding glass door in the back of the house.  Anna, she picked you up and carried you to the tub.  Lucas, she told you to STAY PUT while she took care of Anna.  But while you were waiting, you had to pee.  So by the time mom came back, perhaps on account of the fact that you were already buck-naked on the floor mat, you leaned your pecker out the door and let loose all over the back deck.  Mom came back to see this and asked WHAT ARE YOU DOING!!  To which you replied that you had to go, and mom TOLD you not to move.  So despite the literalist interpretation, I suppose we should count our blessings that you actually leaned yourself out the door first.