I’m working on words now. Using them to get things, I mean. I know I want some apricots, and I can say want, which is a pretty short sentence. Sometimes I’ve lengthened the sentence to want apricot. When I need to make it the sentence a little longer longer, I just say:
want want want want want want want wantwantwantwantwantwantwantwantwant, and end it with a sinus-clearing scream. This is effective. It’s not the scream. It’s the repetition that does the trick.
Like pets, parents require repetition in order to learn. You wouldn’t expect your dog to sit or heel upon hearing those commands only one time. It’s the same with parents. You must repeat the commands in a loud voice so they will understand, accompanied by clear hand gestures.
If I am throwing a flashlight on the bare wood floor, making a tremendous racket at 7:45 in the morning and waking the neighbors, I have to do it six or eight times to make my point before my parents understand they are to take the flashlight away from me and hide it somewhere. My mother, who is very kind, will give me back the flashlight even after I’ve thrown it on the floor ten times, infuriating my father for some reason. My father has filled a large plastic container with blocks, plastic spoons and hard-edged toys and hidden it in the closet because he was, he claims, being driven insane by the racket. Don’t think I don’t know where it is. I am just waiting to grow tall enough or get strong enough to drag a chair over so that I can retrieve the racket-making items and resume my work with them.
I like watching his right eyelid twitch with repressed rage as he considers that plastic container of sturm und drang. He knows he is not supposed to yell at me. It’s fascinating to see him turn all that anger inward. I wonder what will happen next.
Words are interesting. You can learn a lot about people by the way they use words. My cat spends a lot of time threatening the birds outside the window, shouting the same word to them over and over. (‘Meow.’) I think he might have OCD. My father spends a lot of time seething, simmering, hissing words about the WiFi when it is not working. My mother never raises her voice to use any kind of word. She has a very tasteful way of sobbing words quietly when she has had enough of my tantrums. She is very kind.
Have you ever read any books written for children? The way they use words, I can only conclude that children’s book writers must have old diapers for brains. They write repetitious words about cats who are friends with little red hens. The only reason a cat would befriend a red hen would be to eat it, and there is no sense at all to saying goodnight to a moon, or to a pair of mittens, or to clocks. It’s inane as hell. Yet it is also a classic of the genre, like any John Grisham novel. Go figure. I have a book that is about red dogs on top of things and blue dogs under things. I like making my father read it to me again and again and watching his eyelid twitch become more pronounced. I just want to see what happens.
Most books for kids have poor story development and shallow characters. Exception: The Very Hungry Caterpillar. That sucker is a page turner. You never know what the caterpillar’s going to eat next, and it took me a while to see that each page added a higher number for counting purposes. (I’m not yet two, okay? Give me a break.) It gave me a lot of ideas about eating cupcakes and ice cream, which so far I have only seen in books, never in real life. If you have any ice cream, see if you can smuggle some over here. I hear it’s good.
Also, any book about trucks deserves a close look. Have I mentioned yet how fascinating trucks are? And books about trucks? Those are the best books. Any book about trucks has a fascinating story and deep character development, and the nuanced shades of difference between a big rig and a forage harvester – it quickens my pulse. When I hear my parents read a sentence like ‘How do you climb into this tall tractor?’ the mind spins with possibilities. I have had my parents read descriptions of dump trucks that take my breath away. Half the fun of this is training my mother to read books about trucks, and notice trucks in real life, and say things like ‘hey, isn’t that a skid steer over there?’ Or ‘did you notice that giant excavator?’ I just love hearing those words come out of her mouth. She is really learning her trucks! It’s gratifying to see her catch on so fast, but a lot of the fun of being a kid is training your parents.