She threw up her hands

For the last 11 or 12 years, I’ve read aloud to some portion of my family pretty nearly every day, except when things like travel or houseguests or illness have gotten in the way. It sounds silly, but this is one of the things I’m proudest of as a parent (my kids are big readers, which I feel great about). We’re in book three of the Wheel of Time series now (an old favorite of my wife’s that I had never read and that both the kids are old enough now to follow along with), and I’ve noted that people throw up their hands a lot in these books.

I’m an inveterate punster, and I notice and relish things like potential Spoonerisms, weird usage, unintentionally funny phrases, and of course opportunities to crack Dad jokes. These books have instilled in me a new habit of stopping to say “well if she hadn’t eaten her hands in the first place, resorting to auto-cannibalism wouldn’t have made her sick and she wouldn’t have had to throw them up” and similar (usually simplified) variants. For a while, these pauses got eye-rolls and groans out of my family, but then they stopped responding at all to my interjections, which of course makes me want to escalate (because I am a troll).

Oddly, the escalation in this case turned into almost more of a de-escalation, since instead of shouting or being more dramatic and doing the verbal equivalent of an elaborate elbow-nudge or pratfall, I started just folding the observation into the prose itself as a subordinate clause (e.g. “she threw up her hands, which she shouldn’t have eaten in the first place, but Bocephus continued to smirk”) without so much as a raised eyebrow. Thankfully, the family noticed and fed me with eye-rolls and groans and commentary about how fiendish it was to adapt in this manner, which was gratifying.

Eyebrows

wpid-wp-1440170713928.jpgWhen my daughter was very young, she liked to grab my ears. I wasn’t able easily to locate the photo, but there’s a nice picture of the two of us from years back in which we’re walking around at the zoo. Well, I’m walking, and she’s on my shoulders, holding on by my ears. At about that time, she developed the occasional habit of rubbing my earlobes, which I suppose are soft.

I am a man who has little trouble growing hair, and my eyebrows can grow to be quite impressive if I don’t keep them in check. A few years ago, my wife let it be known that she preferred when I kept them a bit shorter, so I started getting them trimmed when I got a haircut. I sort of like when they grow a bit longer because it’s silly, but my wife is the one who most often has to look at my face, so I’ve happily deferred to her preference.

My daughter’s fondness for my ears has in recent years been joined by a fondness for my big spidery eyebrows. It started when she began getting allergy shots. For kids new to allergy shots, parents are encouraged to sort of kneel down in front of the kid for some reason, and the kid is encouraged to exhale while the injection is occurring. This arrangement gave my daughter a recurring opportunity to take note of my eyebrows, which I’ll confess I may have waggled at her a few times for comic effect to try to help take her mind off the odious shots. After a time or two of this, she began pinching my eyebrows a bit, and a new weird habit was born.

My wife and daughter have now expressed opposite preferences with respect to my eyebrows, which puts me in a bit of a tough spot. When I go for a haircut, whose preference do I honor? That of my wife who has to look at me or that of my poor daughter who I force to get bi-weekly injections and whose chief solace is this weird eyebrow ritual?

A few months ago, I made a deal with them. If the person cutting my hair mentions my eyebrows and asks if I want them trimmed, I say yes. If the he or she does not mention my eyebrows, I don’t mention them either, and they continue to grow. It’s been a couple of months since my last haircut, and my eyebrows are becoming very impressive (they’d be more so if they weren’t so light), the longest hairs an inch-and-a-half or so by my quick informal measurement. Just the other day, my daughter conceded that they had probably grown very nearly enough and added that once she could stretch them down to touch the tip of my nose, it’d probably be time to give them a bit of a trim.

Fort Dickerson Quarry

There are a couple of quarries in Knoxville that you can swim in. Well, I don’t swim in them because though I can swim, I don’t love doing it and I sink like a stone if I stop. The quarry at Fort Dickerson is reportedly 350 deep, and that’s a little farther than I’m eager to sink should I run out of steam. In any case, it’s really a beautiful quarry, with aqua water and a pleasant enough walk from the parking area to the water. We went a few weeks ago and I caught some minnows and dropped a fishing line in near the shore to see if I could find any fish, but I caught nothing. It was a nice outing nonetheless.

Granddad

Granddad

Of my two grandfathers, I only ever knew one, and he died when I was a toddler. This is the other one, my mom’s dad. I understand he was not the best guy in the world, but otherwise I know very little about him. He laid tile by trade if I recall correctly, and I believe he flew airplanes as a hobby, though perhaps it was a commercial concern too. At any rate, here’s the only picture of him I know of. My mother found it years ago and I’ve had a copy ever since. I attach no sentimental value to it, but he sure does look swell all decked out for a flight, like somebody out of an old movie.

Finn: A Lexicon

Finn says lots of things that nobody else can understand without help. Here are a few that I enjoy:

  • Agackle: motorcycle, most often said while inviting me to lie down on my side and provide my arm as a handlebar or while riding me when I’ve agreed to strike that pose. He can say motor and cycle independently and with chronological proximity, but he never puts the two together.
  • Dursh: Fish.
  • Garp: Grape. This is a new one. He first calls them berries, and then when I tell him they’re grapes, he says garp sort of from the back of his mouth. Maybe he’s just a fan of John Irving’s fiction.
  • Abbey: Sometimes his aunt’s name, sometimes his cousin’s name, sometimes “up please.”
  • Dooce: Juice.
  • Holmp. Help.
  • Shoon. Shoes.
  • Atide: Outside.
  • At: Hat.
  • Ath: Ice.
  • Mao mao: This is the sound a cat makes, often substituted for the word cat.
  • Beebow: Baseball. Lately, instead of a snuggly furry animal or blankie, he sleeps with a baseball glove complete with grass-stained old ball from my childhood.
  • Annie: Andy (as in his uncle)
  • Uh Lah Doo: I love you (copycatting).
  • Adone: All done.
  • Nennie: Lennie.
  • Ulla: Ella, or sometimes just “somebody else.”
  • Yedldlow: Yellow, sort of shouted, usually in response to having it sort of yelled out to provoke him to say it. The “dldl” part is a general rattling around of his tongue in his mouth and takes different forms at different times.
  • Bone. Phone.

Marshmallow Basagna

basagna.jpgSometimes your kid says something so cute that even though it’s incorrect in a couple of ways, you can’t bear to correct her. Lennie is a big big fan of sweet potato casserole. I knew she would be the moment I saw her cramming marshmallows into her mouth when helping to layer them in on top of the sweet potato puree. This seemed to her rather lasagna-like, and she has for a long time called lasagna basagna. It’s not that she can’t make the ell sound. It’s simply that this is how she heard it at some point, and it’s how it stuck. On its own, it’s kind of cute and harmless, but when said with glee and repetitively and with “marshmallow” as a prefix, it’s just the best. When she’s 30 and learns that this stuff isn’t actually called marshmallow basagna, I guess she’ll hate me, but it’s a risk that for now I’m willing to take.

Bobby

It’s my impression that by the time Lennie was Finn’s age, she was already speaking a ton of words, mostly the names of animals from an animal book we’ve also shared with Finn (though probably less often — having two kids is harder than having one, and you wind up short-changing both in lots of ways that make you feel really bad). Finn is turning out to be a little more sluggish with words (it’s pretty common for boys, I believe), but he’s finally started to show an interest in words and other linguistic feats. For example, he’s pretty good for saying “dog” now. He routinely says “mama,” but he tends to use it in a pretty general sense, usually barking it whenever he wants something. After some work with the animal book, he’ll volunteer “neeee” if you ask him what a horse says, and with a little prompting, he’ll do a chicken sound. The most impressive thing at the moment is that he’s picked up “bite, please,” which is what we croon at him when he’s insisting “maMA” and reaching for food. He’s not terribly consistent about it yet, but it’s not uncommon for him to say “bite, please” when he wants food or drink, though it comes out more like “Bobby” with a big pause in the middle.

Not to be outdone by her little brother, Lennie has started reading and writing on a limited basis. She’s been increasingly curious about letters, and we’ve been helping her learn their sounds and doing the old “duh, ahh, guh” drill to show her how to string them together to make words. The other morning, she had written “cat,” and neither of us had explicitly drilled her on that one. When we asked her how she had come up with it, she said that she had just worked it out based on the sounds. I’m not entirely sure I believe her, but it’s certainly not beyond the realm of what’s possible.

She continues to be a good little artist as well, picking up things like perspective without any prompting. The other day, she drew one fish at sort of an angle and some other fish from the side; the sideways ones had only one eye (they were not flounder). This sounds lame and obvious if you don’t have small children, but it’s a pretty neat thing to watch happen.