Don’t brush the cat with your granola bar!
A week ago, we went to the little parking lot carnival a couple of blocks away. Carter's favorite "ride" was the Shrek obstacle course/funhouse/slide that was completely toddler powered and cost $2.50 per trip through, even with the discount tickets. (I'd say it was for a good cause, but it's actually for the neighborhood Catholic school.) He tore through half our tickets in about 15 minutes of running through that "Again! Again!" so I diverted him to the ferris wheel, rotary swings, and other rides that I thought were at least sort of worth the money. Finally, we were out of tickets, and I had just enough money for a $2 ticket to the inflatable "big bounce." He spent probably an hour there, finally falling over exhausted.
I think I should have stuck him in the $2/hour ride first, instead of the $60/hour Shrek "ride."
This evening I was sitting at the computer when Carter came zooming out of the hall. "Dad, Dad! I peed in the toilet!"
"That's so great, Carter! You've stayed dry all day today! You can have a treat. What do you want for a treat?"
"Uh. . ."
Lindsay: "Do you want a doobie pop?"
L: "Do you want a piece of cheese?"
I try not to tease him too much, since kids aren't supposed to get sarcasm until age 8 or something, but I couldn't resist, "Do you want a spanking?"
Carter: Blank look.
Lindsay: "Do you even know what a spanking is?"
Carter wiggles his hips around as he thinks for a while. "I don't know what dat is." Pause. "I know gumballs!"
It's The Little Puffer at the San Francisco Zoo. It's always hard to get Carter through the zoo before the little train closes at 4pm. Like me, he is prone to detours. But on this cool, almost foggy Saturday or Sunday, we made it for the last ride.
The train is literally a hundred years old, converted from coal to oil maybe 50 years ago, then to compressed natural gas something like 10 years ago, possibly with the restoration that the Golden Gate Railroad Museum did. That beige and black car in the picture is the tender, which carries CNG tanks and water. The train looks and sounds great.
Here's Carter on the merry-go-round at the SF zoo. I think this was on a completely different trip, but it represents the kind of time we have at the zoo. I believe he was riding the carnivorous vampire pig.
The local Baskin-Robbins inexplicably has gummi bears that you can’t buy, even as a topping for your ice cream, prominently displayed near the entrance/exit, so every time I take him and Rainbow there, there’s a significant chance that he’ll want gummi bears instead of ice cream. I explain that we can’t get the gummi bears here, and he says, "Dad, let’s go to Wall O Greens."
Around Christmas, I’d take him for a drive in the evenings, both to look at Christmas lights, and to get him to fall asleep. One nearby house had lights strung up a pole in a conical semi-catenary to the effect, after dark, of simulating a Christmas tree. They didn’t fool Carter, though. He saw it and exclaimed, "Dad! It’s a Christmas Vol-o-cano!"
The "grammar explosion" has started. He’s started making mistakes that demonstrate that he’s internalizing the rules, for example, we "goed" to the store last night. (Remember, "last night" means pretty much any time in the past.) He also correctly said that the gallon jug of milk that I dropped "’sploded."
One word that I’m not sure about is "najer." He wants to go play golf "on the najer." My best guess is that it’s "nature," but he insists that’s not it.
It continues to surprise me a little that he really doesn’t get "Why?" or "How?" questions, or maybe he just thinks they’re trick questions. "Carter, why did you chase the cat out of the room?" I’ll ask, and he just nods his head and says "yeah." I love the way he doesn’t lie about almost anything except "Carter, are you pooping?"
"No," he replies in a high, tentative voice, meaning "Yes."
When I get home from work and talk to him, I ask him how his day at the park went today, and that being a "How?" question, he says "yeah." So I try again, "What did you do at the park with your friends today? Did you have a good day?"
"I bit A.J," he cheerfully announces, not tentative at all.
"Why did you bite A.J.?"
"Yeah!" (Oops, this was a "Why?" question.)
"What did A.J. do that made you want to bite him?"
"A.J. . . . not . . . share," he might say.
Today Nolan was crying inconsolably, so Lindsay and I had both given up trying to console him for a few minutes and he was lying in his crib (with the anti-cat tent, but that’s another story). Carter was in the same room, and was apparently as frustrated as we were about the continuous wailing. Lindsay walked in just in time to see Carter stick his face in the crib and yell "Dammit, shut up!" That got him immediate removal from the room, and Lindsay was busted as well. Some weeks back, she had been driving and Carter had been yelling along in the back seat while she was trying to drive and/or make a phone call, so she finally turned around and said that to him exactly once. Apparently it made an impression.
She felt awful about both saying it in the first place, then about Carter repeating the behavior on Nolan, and ended up crying for 10 minutes.
I’m sure Carter will be playing back some action of mine that I’m not proud of soon. So far, I just find it cute how he (mostly) wants to be like me. Too bad no one else thinks a toddler saying "Holy Crap!" or "That’s an ugly baby!" is cute.
It might be best to record these in audio, but since I’ve already missed many of them, I’ll write them down now. (Note: Please excuse the liberal use of exclamation marks. Carter often speaks in exclamations.)
One of his earliest mystery words was “Gweeth!” We ask him what he meant, but he doesn’t know.
A couple of days ago, he had been fussing and wailing off and on for an hour or two, and I finally asked him if he had some problem, or if he was just being troublesome. “Trouble,” he answered in his high-pitched but certain voice.
Here’s one that really needs to be captured on audio. I love the way he says “Oba dere.” I can’t write it quite right, because the “b” sound is somewhere between b and v, as in Mexican Spanish, and the “d” has a little bit of a hiss, so it’s a little like “th” as well. You’d think it would be easy to capture on videotape, because he says it a lot, with a little variation each time, since he’s always pointing something out to me, but you’d think wrong. “Hey Dad, it’s a plane, oba dere! Dad! Oba dere!” This is probably just one of the jets on its approach to SFO that go past our house about every other minute, but he’s spotted it, and he wants me to look. “Dad! Oba dere!”
Oh, it’s “Spumbunge Squarepants.” “SPUMbunge!” (Like a lot of other toddlers,) he often wants to eat a “hangaber,” (unlike other toddlers) at “Armadilly’s” or “Arma. . .dillo. . .willy’s.” I, the not-quite-vegetarian who is grossed out by chicken, am amused that he happily asks for and digs in to a plate of ribs. Or maybe he doesn’t really want either a hangaber or ribs, he just wants to go to Toys-backwards-R-Us (which he now calls by name instead of just saying “toy store) next door.
His grammar is really improving. Steven Pinker informs me that we’ll have a “grammar explosion” in a month or two, and I’m looking forward to that. I’ve noticed him put together sentences that have a couple of pronouns and a prepositional phrase, e.g., “I take you to the blue car?” He’s got some sense of tense, although a lot of stuff any time in the past is “last night.” It’s been two weeks, but “My birthday was last night!” he proudly announces to anyone within earshot at Armadillo Willy’s.
Here’s Carter, wading in the alligator pit at the Rochester Zoo.