Monday, August 19, 2013

Year One, Month Six Musings

The Mamas and the Dadas. One of the things that I find hugely ironic is that Jackson’s daily report card often features some note about a Spanish word that he allegedly learned at school that day. Really? Given that he knows a total of about ten one-syllable words, it seems like they should maybe focus on teaching him some more English words first, right? Or at least teaching him that words can extend beyond a one consonant, one vowel sound? As it is, he’s learning how to say “purple” in Spanish rather than learning how to say “hello” in English.

I think one of the unintended side effects of this Spanish influence is that Jackson has begun to associate everything with either Mama or Dada. Given that every noun in Spanish is either masculine (El) or feminine (La), I can only assume this is a byproduct of this Spanish education. Initially, KB and I thought this was simply Jackson being an idiot. “No, son – that’s not Dada. That’s a car. Say CAR.” To which he would stare with a puzzled look at me, followed by pointing to the car again and saying “dada”. But over time, we realized that he’s using “mama” and “dada” to identify objects that he can’t say – but associating them with whoever is more closely tied to that object.

For example, the shower is “dada”. Although my wife takes as many – if not more – showers that I do, she showers while Jackson is still sleeping in the morning. I’m the one who is always in the shower while he’s playing, and the one that he always sees when he pulls back the curtain and tosses toys under my feet while showering.

On the other hand, cans of pop are “mama”. Again, although I enjoy a whiskey and Coke as much as the next guy, I’m always drinking them while Jackson is asleep – whereas his mother drinks her LaCroix all throughout the day.

At this point, it’s become a fun game to see what he associates with each of us. Cars that look like my car are “dada”. Cars that look like Kate’s car are “mama”. Nalgene bottles are “mama”. The TV is “dada”. The greatest moment of Kate’s year thus far occurred when Jackson pointed to the Victoria’s Secret catalogue and identified it as “mama”, even though I probably spent far more time reading the articles inside. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he’ll eventually point to a Miller Lite or giant plate of nachos and call them “dada”.

Or, you know, keeping my fingers crossed that he’ll eventually learn the real words for things.

Anger. Speaking of learning new things, this month marked the first new emotion that Jackson has learned since his first laughs when he was only a few months old. Ever since the Monk was born, whenever he would be crying a ton (or NOT laughing at things which I thought were hilarious – stupid kids not getting my sharp sense of humor), I would always ask him “why so serious?” (like the Joker in The Dark Knight, which drives my wife absolutely crazy). But up until this month, that serious face was the low end of his emotional spectrum. While he’s still the happiest kid ever, Jackson now has developed a new emotional expression – his angry face.

Furrowing his brown and looking at you with a harsh look of distrust, his angry face usually accompanies someone telling him he can’t do something… or suggesting that he should do something that he doesn’t want to do. Forcing him to leave his favorite play spot (the front seat of the car) will often earn you an angry face. Telling him that he has to take a bath instead of play will get you anywhere from an angry face to flat out crying. Asking him if he wants a diaper change? Guaranteed angry face followed by him running away as quickly as possible.

I can only assume this angry face is one of the non-Spanish things that he learned at school. Given that it’s not yet football season, and the Dayton Flyers haven’t played basketball for months, I don’t think I’ve had an angry face since March. Likewise, it’s not as though Kate is ever walking around with an angry face. After all, what’s she got to be upset about? She’s got a hunky husband, the happiest toddler on the block, and a live-in cook (also me). Have you ever looked at kids toys or watched any kids TV shows? Every character has a permanent smile on them! So it’s not like he’s learning it from Sesame Street or the Fisher Price Puppy. No, it must be something that those no-good-punk kids at school have taught him.

The good news is, it’s pretty hilarious. In fact, every time he does it I just start busting out laughing at him until he returns to a happy face… or crying face. Still, coupled with the fact that he seems to intentionally misbehave now from time to time –– it’s another sign of him becoming one of the moody two year olds that you hear so much about. Oh, you don’t want me to hit you in the face with my shovel? Okay, I’m going to do it anyways – and then when you take my shovel away, it’s going to be angry face time! Even though he seems to understand everything, given his lack of verbal acknowledgement for most things, I still struggle with reasoning with him through discipline. I can’t wait for the day when I can logically explain to him why hitting is bad, why he can’t run in the street, or why taking one bite out of every piece of fruit in our fruit bowl is a bad thing. But for now, I struggle with keeping a straight face when he starts flashing the angry face.

Poop. Finally this month, the gross-out portion of the blog. Those without kids, you probably will want to go ahead and skip past this topic. For those with kids, it’s time to talk poop.

In the past, I’ve always wondered how the teachers at Jackson’s school do it – putting up with not one, but a whole room full of kids all day every day. Again, given their inability to logically reason at this age, it’s dealing with a room full of illogical balls of energy doing everything they can to accidentally hurt themselves all day long… and you are all that stands between them and utter chaos. But recently, I’ve discovered they have a trick up their sleeves when the going gets tough and they need to thin the herd of toddlers roaming their classroom. The key is poop.

Any time a teacher wants to send a kid home from school, they can simply play the “poop card”. Unlike all other forms of illness, which are easy to confirm by things like taking a child’s temperature or checking for a running nose / cough, diarrhea (or “runny poop”) is impossible to prove. The evidence is thrown away long before the parents are even notified that their child had the runs – and somehow that makes them so “sick” that they not only have to go home from school, but stay away for 24 hours! Are you kidding me? When did this become a law?

Sure, before I had a child, I assumed that their poop would look like my poop – which is to say, be in log form. But now that I’ve had Jackson for a year and a half, I can tell you that 95% of the time it’s just a mash of filth in his diaper. Even if it comes out in a semi-solid state, that quickly changes into mush after a few minutes of him running around / falling down / boxing out other kids on the basketball court. Plus, if there really is some type of health code violation involving liquid poop, how does anyone go to school or work the day after some late night White Castle?  It’s insane. Jackson has one “apple spinach quinoa” Plum snack that doesn’t agree with him (and who can blame him? Those combinations are insane!) and he’s banned from all the fun and games at school for a day.

Well played teachers, well played. You win this round.