Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Snappy the Sailor Girl

So, since my last post was so sad...so so so sad...I thought I'd make it up to y'all by telling you this seriously hilarious story:

As you might know, Snappy has been in speech therapy for the past few months. It's been doing wonders for her vocabulary and grammar, but almost nothing for her pronunciation. (Which is why we're pretty darned sure that we're in for a second palate surgery...hence the sadness.) I told the speech therapist early on that I was afraid that when she did start talking, it'd be just a string of swear words, and he said, "yeah. That happens with these kids."

Makes sense, when you think about it. If your toddler isn't talking, then they don't repeat everything you say, if they don't repeat everything you say, you don't watch what you say because, even though you know you should, you don't get any negative reinforcement when you do swear (i.e. a little potty mouth running around the playground, shocking grannies). Parents are a lot like children. They too need positive and negative reinforcement.

And without it...well, let's just say that for a while now, I've suspected that Snappy has been saying F You! Now, I knew she'd been saying shit because she said it five times when I accidently dropped her Goldfish crackers into the cat's water dish. Hey, at least she used it correctly. But she was also, with quite the sneaky little gleam in her eye, saying something that sounded a lot like Uck OO. Hmm. What to do? I can't tell her not to swear if she's not swearing. So I had to tread lightly.

"Snappy, are you saying Achoo?"

"No," She said giggling. "Not achoo!"

"Are you saying Got you?"

That's when she squealed, "Uck you, La-ee!"

Ah ha. Oh yes. I know where she heard that. Many times. All over the city. From her mother, who thinks many ladies need to go uck themselves and has a hard time keeping her mouth shut when she encounters one. Oh boy.

I didn't know what to do then, but a few days later, at the grocery store, in the middle of a tantrum, I told Snappy she couldn't have some candy, and she screamed "Uck Oo! Uck Oo! Uck Oo!" It was strange. I found myself actually being glad that Snappy's 1st palate repair had left her with a palate too short to allow for proper pronunciation of plosives like p, b and good ol' F! Having the tantrumy child in the grocery store is one thing, having a filthy mouthed tantrum thrower is yet another. I hugged her, kissed the top of her head and said, "Oh Snappy, that's really naughty. You can't do that." She stopped.

I guess my days of swearing at ladies are over. Oh well. It was fun while it lasted. Damn b words had it coming.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Baby gets the Blues

Yesterday, Snappy dug out Sneakers, the Seaside Cat and said, "I want to read kitty cat story." The kitty cat story? But Snappy, that story makes you cry. She just lowered her little eyebrows and said "I want the kitty cat story." A "serious business" face she reserves for asking for ice cream cones...and only for asking for asking for ice cream cones. Hm.

Well, maybe she's matured. After all, the kitty cat story made her cry when she was one and a half. She's nearly two and a half now. She plays intricate imagination games with her dolls and animals, she makes up wild stories about the owl, puma and Moll Moll, she sings Twinkle Twinkle Little star on the potty, she sits on a potty, she talks in full sentences, she answers questions in full sentences, she makes demands in full sentences, she swears! and she has trouble deciding whether to be a witch or a pirate for Halloween...such a grown-up problem. Such a big girl! Surely, she no longer cries when the kitty gets his paw pinched by the crab. Surely she's past that.

Apparently, she is not (and don't call her surely).

I don't pretend to be a child development expert, but I've noticed that at around 18 months or so, babies get the blues. Not all of them, but I've seen other kids her age cry at sad songs (why do baby music teachers ever even go near the key of D minor? Have they learned nothing from Spinal Tap?!). As slap happy and snappy go lucky as she most often was, Snappy was also a bit of a blues master herself. She cried at the sad songs in music class. She also cried when the rocket ship went up up up up and then down down down down in Yo Gabba Gabba, when the V Tarzan-yelled through the Bronx Zoo on Sesame Street, when Swiper got his swiping butt stuck in a bottle on Dora and of course, when a hapless black cat got his paw pinched by a vicious crab in one of her, otherwise, favorite books. And OH the pathos! Capital O capital H the PATHOS! Her mournful sobs once sent an entire playground of 3 year-olds into a chorus of sympathy crying after a big kid refused to let her stomp on his sand castle.

Actually, it was the playground incident that started me thinking. It was the way the whole 46th Avenue playground just stopped. The kids stopped to watch this little 1 1/2 year old cry, the older ones, choking back tears themselves, the younger ones crying right along with her. The parents stopped and watched their own kids. They seemed surprised by the stunning show of empathy. And probably these kids were more sensitive than your average sand sifter, but there was something about that moment...that seemed different...sadder than it should've been. Toddlers got their feeling hurt on that playground everyday. Why did Snappy seem to have a DEE-Vine right to the blues?

She certainly has a gift for it, even more so now that she can talk. Pairing her already heart-string-pulling sobs with lines like "he scared me!" when the cat hisses at her, "I'm sorry." when she thinks someone is mad at her and, the all time soul-smacking tear-tugging "I want to go home!." She waits to bust that little gem out for emergency situations: like clinic visits, doctor's appointments and banks without lolly-pops. "I want to go home". Such a great line! Classic to the human condition, completely knocked-up with emotion, as a song lyric, it rivals "Son, pack your things, I've come to take you home" and makes "I'm serious as cancer when I say rythmn is a dancer" look like a bucket of shit (hm...that's not really hard to do, is it?).

Oh, and now she changes it up and says things like, "He wants to go home". Like when Ruby and Louise are working on their first-aid badge for bunny scouts, and they wrap Max in bandages. Snappy points at him and says, "he wants to go home." I put two and two together. Max looked like he was at the doctor. Snappy thought the doctors office was a torture chamber and behaved as such when placed inside it. Snappy needed to go to the doctors office from time to time. Here, I thought was a perfect opportunity to discuss her feelings and apprehension about people who wear stethoscopes.

"Do you think Max is scared?" I asked, in my best mommy voice. Snappy thought about it and opened her mouth to speak, but what came out was the beginnings of a wail that was sure to be sadder than Sophie's Choice (a movie with a premise so sad, I refuse to watch it), The Things They Carried and every Disney movie ever made...had I not shut it down with a quick, " I meant, do you want a Popsicle? That's what I meant..Max is fine. Everything is fine. Lime or orange? Why not both?"

But yesterday, when she pointed to a picture of Sneakers in the back seat of a car and, on the verge of woeful wailing, said, "he wants to go home," I started to think that maybe, in this case, two and two make five. Snappy is two, she's not an idiot. She knows that cat doesn't want to go to the beach, any more than Max wants to play doctor with his sister and her crazy bunny friend or Swiper wants to get stuffed in a bottle. She knows that some asshole shoved that fox in that bottle...possibly the same one who decided it would be a good idea to take a cat to the ocean. And it makes her cry because she's been down that lonely road. And if she's smart enough to figure that out, she's smart enough to know that something is up when she hears mom and the speech therapist saying things like "second palate surgery" and "recovery time".

And if she is that smart, then she knows that if it were up to me, she'd never have the blues again. She'd have the grouchies, the angries, the tantrums and the just plain sads, but never the blues. But it's not. And she will.