Dante’s newest persona is what I call “the teacher.” It goes something like this:
DANTE: [Walking over to his tricycle] Would you like to know how a tricycle works?
DANTE: Well, it has three wheels, and it has these pedals, and this seat. You can sit on it, and ride it. And mine has a little drawer! [He opens the compartment at the back.]
ME: Ah, I see.
DANTE: [Climbing on] And see, I can go over a bump!
ME: Oh, I just… um… hey, why is it called a tricycle?
DANTE: Because it has three wheels.
ME: Oh, I see.
DANTE: Pretend you don’t know how a tricycle works.
ME: Um, okay.
DANTE: Would you like to know how a tricycle works?
DANTE: Well, it has three wheels…
He’s constantly on the hunt for mechanical things to fiddle with, and as soon as he figures something out about one, he wants to teach it to you. We bought a new vacuum cleaner tonight, but got home from the store after his bath time, so we headed straight to the tub with him, much to his bitter disappointment. “But — I just — wanted — to explore the vacuum,” he said, his voice suffused with heartbreak. He could only be placated with the promise that we’d leave it in the box tonight so that he could be a part of the whole process tomorrow.
When we were in California, he immediately latched onto the room safe, which he decided was a microwave. He narrated the entire thing to us. “Well, see, we have a little microwave in our hotel room. You put something in, and then close the door, and then you type the time, like two-oh-oh, and then it says ERROR!” The first night we were there, we needed to head off to my sister’s place after settling into the room. He really did not want to leave the safe. “But, I’m just experiencing this microwave right now,” he argued. Lucky for us, we were able to tempt him out of the room with promises of many elevator buttons to press. Would you like to know what happens when you press the elevator button? (Pretend you don’t know how an elevator works.)