Dante’s got a few litte speech mannerisms going right now, some cuter than others:
- “Can I say something?”: This is his intro not just to saying things, but also to asking questions. Oh, and also to re-saying the thing he just said a second ago.
- “Isn’t it crazy that…” or “Isn’t that crazy?”: The former is a prefix, the latter is a suffix. Often things that get tagged this way are things he just learned. “Isn’t it crazy that the Chinese invented paper money from crushed papyrus? Isn’t that crazy?” It’s rare that we actually see the before-and-after tagging in normal usage, but that sample gives the flavor of both. Another variety of this is “Isn’t that funny?” In fact:
- “Funny!”: He’s gotten into puns and plays on words, like “COIN-cidence”, and frequently after he does one he’ll say, “Funny!” He’s like a comic with a really generic catch phrase. He may need a few lessons from Ferecito.
- “Annoying!”: According to his teachers, this is thehot word among Dante’s classmates right now, and he has jumped on the bandwagon with gusto. He generally applies it to situations where he’s feeling frustrated, and when he says it, he invests it with genuine indignation. “Ugh! ANNOYING!” We’ve let him know that he is not to direct that at people, but are otherwise letting it play out.
- “Aw, cool!”: This is sort of the opposite. When he’s particuarly excited about something, gets a good surprise, sees something he likes, etc., out comes this exclamation. He stayed at my parents’ house on Easter weekend, and my mom reports that this was his exact reaction to his Easter basket.
- “Mee-tah”: Okay, this one requires some explanation. Dante has sort of a kidcrush on one of his kindergarten friends, who I’ll call Jude. Jude, who is a lovely, sweet kid, is apparently given to little nonsense phrases, and this is the most common. Since Dante has plenty of practice with this sort of thing, he picked it up immediately, and now says it, or variations on it, pretty much incessantly. Variations include:
- “Mee-burp”: Kidcrush friend is a bit of a burper, reportedly. Dante tells us that his Jude can burp his numbers to 3. I have never heard Dante do any such thing (or Jude, for that matter), but he does say“burp” an awful lot, in the mee-burp formulation. I’m not sure whether he’s actually fascinated with burping, or just wants to be like Jude. I suspect the latter.
- “Mee-ouch” or just “ouch”: There is a lot lot lotof saying “ouch” right now. Virtually none of it has to do with being hurt, though he often will whack himself with an open palm when he does it. It is a strange, not entirely pleasant habit, but we are doing our best to play it cool and not make a thing out of it. It would be less concerning if not for the fact that he’s also into excessively punishing himself right now.Let me explain. Dante has always been sweet-tempered and obedient, and consequently we have never had to escalate very far beyond the Stern Conversation in our parenting discipline levels. However, now Dante sees (and sometimes experiences) what they call “consequences” at school, and is now trying to sort things out. A few months ago, I noticed that he’d started to have a habit of building on some correction I’d give him. For example, if I ask him not to eat messy food on the couch, he might say, “I don’t think I should be allowed to sit on the couch anymore.” We went through quite a few iterations of this kind of thing, where I’d have to explain that I’ll be the one to decide the consequences, and that he needn’t take it on himself.
Progress has been made, to the point where now if I correct him he might instead ask, “Is there more of a consequence for that?” I’ve explained that if he does something I don’t want him to do, my job is to teach him what to do instead. If a given behavior happens once or seldom, teaching is all I need to do. If it becomes a habit, is taken to an extreme, that’s when a consequence would be attached. He’s slowly absorbing the fact that different grownups exercise different discipline styles, and that what he experiences at school might be different from home. Anyway, when he smacks himself and says, “Ouch!”, I now feel like I need to make sure he isn’t trying to administer his own corrections. Then again, like I said, “ow” is ubiquitous. I recently caught him singing “Hot Cross Buns” with all the lyrics changed to “Ow ow ow.”
- “Now you should be [someone] and I’ll be [someone else].”: This is less a speech pattern than a play pattern. He is all about directing the pretending, and very frequently the way it works is that Dante gets to play someone with more power or status than the one we play. For instance, a very little common one is that he pretends to be Jude and I pretend to be Jude’s little brother. (He is totally fascinated with Jude’s little brother.) Or he’ll be the mama jaguar, and Laura will be the baby jaguar. He’s very fond of the Rock ‘N Learn Earth Science DVD, in which one of the characters is Terra, the earth. So he likes to pretend that he’s Terra, and I’m Kevin (the kid from the video), which of course means that he’s pretending to be much, much bigger than me. He’s never been much for superheroes or action heroes — instead he works out his feelings around power by pretending to be a planet, which when you think about it is quite a bit more badass than Spider-Man or Luke Skywalker.