Monday, February 07, 2005

The birds and the blow dryer

Our eight-month old has added consonants to her repertoire over the past week. Where once we had an R2D2 imitator gleefully making noises at us (or at a plastic elephant, or the losing contestants on "The Price Is Right") from her quilt, we're now frequently joined in conversation by a little person sporting a lot of syllables. (Hey, something had to replace "Crossfire".)

Sylvi generally doesn't break out the consonants, though, unless she really wants (read: demands) something, or is starting her evening meltdown. So the situation usually unfolds as follows:

1. Sylvi's sitting on her quilt on the living room floor, cheerfully slurping on the tag to her stuffed lamb, or her teething turtle, or the tag on the quilt itself. My wife and I are going about our business, usually consisting of reading snippets from magazines in between keeping Sylvi away from shoes, junk mail, or the mechanism of the gliding ottoman.

2. Suddenly, after a few seconds of voracious slurping (which is, incidentally, another good name for your garage band) she'll start to make little squeaky noises, catching our attention. This precedes the following announcement:

3. "Yyyyyyeeeeeeeeeeee dadadadadadadadaDADADADADADA BAA!!!" For extra effect, she gives us an intense look (or at least as intense as an 8-month old can pull off) to make sure we know SHE MEANS BUSINESS.

We have no idea what she's demanding, but it's awfully cute.

But truth be told, this development has me a little wistful. Not because I hate to see her grow up too fast, or even because I'm worried that I soon won't be able to get a word in edgewise (thank goodness I have a job in radio, though). What I'm worried about is her approaching grasp of the English language means we're that much closer to having to teach Sylvi the real facts of life.

And it's not even talking about human reproduction that gives me pause. Rather it's the key fact of life, as relayed by the label on the cord to my wife's hair dryer, which stares out at me as I brush my teeth: "DO NOT REMOVE THIS TAG! WARN CHILDREN OF THE RISK OF DEATH BY ELECTRIC SHOCK!"

I've always wondered how that conversation starts. "Gather 'round, kids! Dad's going to tell you the story of Jack and the 110 Volts..." Or perhaps, "Okay, Lisa, it's time for bed. Here's your blankie. And don't forget -- if you run over a live extension cord with a lawn mower, you could wind up as a smoldering lump of carbon. Well, good night."

I figure we'll need to work our way up to it. Perhaps start with a measured, calm discussion of why we can't remove the labels on mattresses and pillows before we get to such mature subject matter as the risk of death by electric shock. Of course, by then, Sylvi probably will have eaten the tag off her mom's hair dryer.

1 comment:

Carol Davidson said...

Why not do what we did in our family? Show and tell.

Find a relative who is the biggest gambler, get him or her "likkered" up (remember, I'm from Tennessee), and show them that the "RISK" of death means there are odds.

Other friends and family members might want to place bets, and if so, you can also teach your daughter some mathematics and statistics. This is homeschooling at its finest.

I sure wish you allowed anonymous posts. I have a feeling the Department of Human Services will be paying me a visit soon.