Friday, October 31, 2008

Recipe for pumpkin soup

Here is Genevieve's recipe for pumpkin soup. Take 2 cups of water, put it in a pot. Ask an adult to please boil the water for you, and add the pumpkin, some pepper and oil. Stir the pot with a big spoon. Serve with a ladle.

Translation below.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

They can be grown-ups, too

My children will sometimes switch roles with their mom. This morning it was climbing in bed to comb the hair of a mommy who had been working late last night.

Sometimes, they stroke our heads when we are trying to cuddle them to sleep with the adult more tired than the child. We get everything but the lullaby, and sometimes Genevieve will try to sing one of her own making.

At other times, they offer advice. Recently, mommy admitted she was cranky because she was tired, so Genevieve suggested that mommy should go workout at the gym. And if I apologize for something, Genevieve has lately taken to telling me in her most understanding voice, "That's okay dad, sometimes adults make mistakes."

They emulate other things, too. One of them is my loud voice when I lose my temper. It's a tough sell to have them drop that when it seems to be okay for daddy to do it. Those kids are sometimes a tougher mirror than the one in the bathroom (and that one's not too kind, ya know).

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Shy of that

Reesa says, "I'm shy of that," to mean that she's afraid of something. It's a slight shift in use from the definition of shy that means "wary of." It was my wife who clued me into where Reesa picked it up. She got it from the classic Robert McCloskey children's book, Blueberries for Sal, in which this particular usage of shy appears twice, the first time in reference to a mother bear who suddenly finds herself next to a young human child:
She took one good look and backed away. (She was old enough to be shy of people, even a very small person like Little Sal.)
Given that usage, it makes more sense that my daughter -- who would hear this construct twice each time we read this story -- would use "shy" interchangeably with "afraid."

My wife and a friend had a canning date yesterday. You know, get together and spend hours canning three different recipes. I had the prime role as the go-to parent. By the end of the day, they were more tired than I, and as we sat enjoying dinner I thought of Blueberries for Sal, probably because it is the only book that vaguely involves canning that I am familiar with. My wife read it to the children last night, but they didn't comprehend a very strong connection.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A series of verbal exchanges

One of the things I take for granted as an adult is the context in which phone conversations occur.

It seems to me that typical phone conversations generally involve a greeting, a "main body" of conversation with a series of verbal exchanges, and a closing. When I look at it that way, it doesn't seem so strange that the conversational behavior of a young child seems a little off track. They just need more practice.


I called a parent of one of Genevieve's friends about some details for her son's planned birthday party, and after I got the information I needed the parent said that her son would like to talk to Genevieve. I handed the phone to my daughter, and she didn't waste a moment.

"Um, hi. I have a jewelry box in my bedroom, and I have lots of special stuff in it..." Her voice trailed off as she crossed the house and disappeared into her bedroom.

Well, she did have a greeting--can't say that she allowed any space for it to be a two-way greeting, but that would be a learned behavior. My dad-ness also observed that she wanted to go off for a private conversation when a boy is on the other end of the line. And, she's talking about stuff in her bedroom. Don't think that I don't notice these things.

Main Body

The "series of verbal exchanges" thing is definitely a learned skill. If she hears the person on the other end (sometimes she doesn't), then you'll get some mixed results. She might give you a full response, and listen to the next comment, and give another appropriate response--in other words, successfully engage in mutually satisfying verbal exchanges. She might give you a brief response, followed by talking about what she had been talking about or an entirely new subject. Or, she might pause, and as if she couldn't figure out how to respond, just go on talking.


In Discourse structure of English telephone conversation : a description of the closing, the author posits:
Research on conversation has shown that people do not simply stop talking. Conversationalists have to indicate somehow at a certain point in the course of their interaction a desire to 'terminate the contact.'
Putting aside the fact that I know some adults who don't follow the above sequence description, my general observation of Genevieve has been that she does one of two general things: she stops talking and hands the phone to an adult, or she doesn't stop talking.

In the birthday boy conversation, I picked up a second phone after a couple of minutes to hear the last few words from my daughter before the mother of the boy got on the other line. Her son was done talking, she explained.

I'm not sure that the poor kid had the chance to do much talking.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Deep thoughts

A recent morning, Reesa was flat on her back on the bathroom, looking up contemplatively at the ceiling. With her finger up her nose. She had just figured out one of the great mysteries of her three year old life.

"I think... there's a bug in my tummy that makes the buggers in my nose."

There's all sorts of parental advice for dealing with nose-picking children. A sampling of what is on the internet:
Common themes are humidifiers, vaseline, and reminders that nosepicking is not socially acceptable. I think that I can try those three and see where we get.

Friday, October 10, 2008


On the bike commute home, Genevieve heard a train approaching.

"What happens if you get run over by a train?" she asked from her seat on the trail-a-bike.

"Oh that's not good," I replied.

"Not good? What happens?'

"You would die."

"Does it make you flat?"

"Yeah, something like that," I said, wondering what to say if she wanted more details. Probably something like, it's yucky and isn't something to think about too much, because if you're dead, then you are just dead.

But she didn't immediately follow up, so as we watched the Wisconsin Central locomotives go by, I decided to talk about how I remembered trains.

"When I was a child like you, there used to be a car at the end of a long train called the caboose. And it..."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah", she interrupted. "I know all about that. That was back in the old days."

Yup. The old days. I am already being relegated to ancient history.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Bad shoes

"eeeeEEEEEE!!!! Noooooo!"

Genevieve was, as we say, having issues with her shoes. My wife asked what was going on.

"Bad shoes!"

"Bad shoes?"

"Bad shoes! They won't let me put them on, and they won't let me tie them."

Genevieve was ushered out into the car, and eventually got her shoes on. She spent the remainder of the car ride periodically scolding her shoes. Just to make sure they heard her.