On Saturday you turned forty-two months old, which is a grand, ultimate age to be. We decided to celebrate this infinitely improbable event with SCIENCE!, and spent Sunday afternoon launching foam rocket ships powered by Mentos and Diet Coke. You received a Mentos rocket set as a stocking stuffer last Christmas, and we borrowed the top of our bird bath to use as a launch pad. Your job was to load the candies and pull the fuse to initiate SCIENCE!; my job was make sure that the Coke bottle stayed upright long enough to ensure that SCIENCE! sprayed away from us; and Mommy was recruited to film the event, although she was rather less excited about all that SCIENCE! coating our backyard with a layer of sugar water.
One the one hand, you were thrilled and delighted by the spurting cascade of carbonated cola; on the other, you were disappointed that it didn’t last very long and that I was unwilling to fork over another twenty dollars on candy and pop so that you could play Mission Control Commander for another five minutes or so.
We’ve actually been doing lots of little activities this month, probably because August marked the end of summer for your mommy and I, and we wanted to get a little more vacation in there. For example, we made a spur of the moment family trip to visit Mount Rushmore again this month, a trip you always seem to enjoy if for no better reason than to eat a big hot dog and an ice cream cone in the shadow of four big faces on a mountain. This time, however, there were a number of park rangers handing out activity guides for children, with those kids who bothered completing the form earning “Junior Ranger” badges.
At first you were terribly excited about becoming a park ranger, and we you diligently answered questions about the kinds of colors you saw on the monument and in the forest (white, brown, green), about what foods were and were not appropriate to feed the local wildlife (nuts and seed: okay; hamburgers and fries: not so much), about how many needles formed each clump on a the local conifer trees (2), and a picture of a mountain lion that inexplicably ended up looking a lot more like Wilt from Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends.
Eventually you turned in your activity sheet to the lady in the guest center, who found it to be sufficient for meritorious conduct, and bestowed upon you the title of Junior Park Ranger and handed you a plastic badge embossed with the image of Rushmore signifying such. Oddly enough, you wouldn’t wear the badge, and instead preferred to hold onto it the rest of day, occasionally flashing it at people like an FBI agent at a raid. Apparently you were aghast at the fact that pinning a badge on you meant sticking a needle through the fabric of your Disney Princess dress, and it is clear that being a facsimile Disney royal ranks significantly higher than a facsimile public servant. (To be fair, however, I can find no compelling argument against that worldview.)
You and I have also had a lot of daddy-daughter time this month, owing to the fact that your mother has a role in a production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat that just started its public run, so she’s spent most every evening this month at rehearsal. Most school nights this has meant watching movies curled up on the couch, although early on you requested to watch the first Avatar: The Last Airbender episode, which has resulted in us working our way through my Avatar DVD collection. (We’re currently at The Crossroads of Destiny near the end of Book 2.) The end result has been that you’ve been diligently practicing to become a waterbender, and during most episodes you’ll spend some time watching and mimicking Katara’s moves. I have happily let you practice away, on the grounds that (a) I don’t have the heart to tell you that waterbending isn’t real and (b) if it actually is real, I’d rather not piss off a little waterbending master in the making.
We also spend a lot of time watching Phineas and Ferb, probably because it’s on twenty-four hours a day. Most episodes typically include a catchy song or too, and so when you’re not practicing your waterbending forms, you’re dancing around the house singing “Gitchie-gitchie-goo means that I love you!” or “Busted” or “We’re Watching and Waiting.”
Other evenings we get in my car and decide to drive to some place that you’d like to go, and among this month’s selections you’ve opted to
- Go to Storybook Island, where you play on the slides and swings and monkey-bars and train long enough to convince me to by you a lollipop from the Snack Shop
- Go to Time Out,* the arcade in the mall, at which you spend the change you’ve collected over a week on several games of Skee-Ball, whereupon you cash in your tickets for a lollipop.
- Go to Chuck E. Cheese, where you spend any leftover change you still might have on more Skee-ball and Water Pistols, whereupon you cash in your tickets for a lollipop.
You might notice that there is a common theme to the activities you request. Moreover, this common theme and the fact that I’m no longer accepting your suggestions for evening activities are not entirely unrelated.
* We also use the term Time out to mean a particular form of punishment after you misbehave, which means that you are very, very specific when it comes to going to the arcade. A typical request might be along the line of “Daddy, can I go to Time Out?… I mean the Time Out at the mall, not the Time Out when I’m in trouble. I’m not in trouble, okay? I’m being good right now, see? Really good. I don’t need to be in time out in trouble, but Time Out in the mall. Because I’m being good. Right?”
It’s probably a function of your mommy practicing for her play, but you’ve been particularly theatrical this month, as evidenced by the aforementioned practicing of animated martial arts and kid pop tunes. You’ve also been singing songs from the Joseph play itself, although owing to a mispronunciation on your part it took me a while to decode that. I was seriously confused with lyrics like “Go go go Joe fish, you know what they say” and “Poor poor Joe fish, whatcha gonna do?” although I do think a version of the biblical Joseph involving seafood might yet have some potential.
You’ve also been particular fond of the gospel song Down by the Riverside, which you have on one of your sing-along DVDs.* In fact, one Saturday this month, after spending a Sunday at Storybook Island (so that mommy could have the house to practice for the play) we strolled behind the park to a point where Rapid Creek lazy slithered by through the trees. Being rather toasty out, we yanked off our shoes and rolled up our pants and strolled along in the creek bed, where after a half hour or so it suddenly dawned on you that we were quite literally “down by the riverside,” at which point you burst into song and dance.
Of course, what with your balance being what it is (you are a klutz) and the current whizzing along, the chorus was cut a bit short:
* Curiously enough, though you are quite fond of the song, you never can get the chorus quite right. The song goes “I ain’t gonna study war no more, / I ain’t gonna study war no more, / Ain’t gonna study war no more, no more!” but you always seem to omit the word war, which has the amusing effect of changing the song from a rousing declaration of peace to the ranting mind-set a typical college student.
You’re still big on the word “actually,” and there’s nary a sentence that goes by from which it is absent. Whereas last month you were more or less using it in its proper context, this month the word has apparently been promoted to the new “um” — it is the word you say when you can’t think of anything else to say. As a result, most sentences out of your mouth take the form “Actually I think that actually I would actually like to actually go to the store actually and actually buy some gum actually, do you actually think we can actually do that actually?” In fact, you like that word so much that some times you simply say it and nothing else, which was a little disconcerting at first:
Me: … actually what?
Me: “Actually” WHAT?
You: But actually…
You may drive me crazy, little girl, but I love so much all the same.
— Ba ba
See more photos of your forty-second month over at Flickr: