Newsletter: month forty-three

Dear Ladybug,

On Monday you turned forty-three months old, and as months go, it’s been pretty busy.   For example, this month your mom completed here three week run of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.   We saw it three times, and I must admit you did much better than when we saw mommy in the production Cinderella last year, during which you cried in abject rejection every time your mommy didn’t wave at you in the audience.   This year you not only came to terms with that lamentable fact of theater life, but you were actually quite involved with the story itself, which you manifested by (a) laughing loudly at all the funny bits, (b) singing loudly along with all the songs you knew, and (c) shouting questions to the actors on stage during quieter moment’s, such as “Be careful on stairs, lady!” or “Why are you in jail, Joseph?” or “What is Joseph doing behind that sheet with the Queen?”

Because of your stellar behavior at Joseph, your mommy decided to surprise with with tickets to see a production of Momma Mia! at the Civic Center theater, which you alternatively found

  • thrilling, when you learned that you were going to see Sophie and Donna and Sam Carmichael in person.
  • disappointed, when you discovered they were not being played by Amanda Seyfried, Meryl Streep, and Pierce Brosnan,
  • and thrilling again, when you learned there were more songs in the play that in the movie, including a whole dream sequence!

Of course, for the theatergoers in your immediate vicinity, the real star of the show was you, as those folks had never been treated to the sight of a three-year-old dancing and singing on her chair to ABBA songs at the top of her lungs.   (I didn’t have the heart to inform such people that the novelty of it wears off after the first year or so.)

Midway through the month, near the beginning of October, your Nana and Papa Shoo dropped by for a five-day weekend to visit you.   You, of course, we delighted by their visit, not only because you love your grandparents, but also because they are convinced of their right to spoil you, and you are only too happy to oblige.   For example, one day you had Nana take you to Chuck E. Cheese, where you demonstrated to her both your indefatigability and your grasp of capitalism by unceasingly collecting tickets to trade for Tootsie Pops for three and a half hours.   Another day you decided to have Papa take you to Cabela’s, who, being an avid hunter and fly-fisher, happily obliged.   (Indeed, Papa Shoo is so much an outdoorsman that he actually thinks that the Rapid City Cabela’s is the jewel of the Black Hills; those presidential faces on the mountain… eh, not so much.)   The end result of the trip is that you returned home with two high-end snow suits, a Barbie fishing pole, and an insatiable desire to go out to the back yard to bludgeon a rabbit and eat it.   Raw.

A few days after your grandparents left and your blood lust subsided, you and mommy and I spent a three day weekend down in Hill City at a cozy bed and breakfast, ostensibly to celebrate our seventh wedding anniversary, but mostly to simply relax after what had been an ungodly busy month (your mom with her classes and the play; me with my classes and the completion of my ginormous tenure application).   The B&B is a cozy little place run pair a wonderfully friendly couple called Sam and Linda, and it turned out that a second family was staying the weekend there as well with their seven-year-old son Matthew, with whom you fell immediately and deeply in love.   Seriously.   You spend each morning at the breakfast table with your head in your hands gazing across the room at him, a big goofy grin spread wide across your face; each afternoon following him around like a lapdog or, more appropriately given your tendency to clamp onto him with giant hugs, a leach; each evening telling your mom and I about what you did with Matthew that day, what stories Matthew told you, what jokes Matthew said, when and where you planned on marrying Matthew, what you’d name your kids and your pets, and so forth.

So… Month 43 is when you found your first love.   Of course, after three days it was time for everyone to go home, and I haven’t yet had the heart to explain to you that Matthew is not waiting patiently back in Hill City for you to return so you can practice your wedding vows.   You’re going to figure this out soon enough, whence I suspect Month 44 will be when you experience your first break-up and the subsequent first time locking yourself into your room listening to Cure albums and promising to never love again.   I think I’m gonna let mom handle that one.

Then again, maybe you’ll display your characteristic maturity and chalk it up to “’tis better to have love and lost…”   You continue to amaze me with your wit and wisdom.   You find patterns and connections in everything.   For example, I remember having the following conversation with you:

You: Is it Tuesday yet?

Me: No.   Today is Sunday.

You: When will it be Tuesday?

Me: In two days.

You: That’s funny!   Tuesday is in two days!   That makes sense.   When is Monday?

Me: Tomorrow.   That’s one day away.

You: Monday is one day and Tuesday is two days.   That’s funny.

Me: I’ve never thought about that, but you’re right.   It does make sense.   And you know what?   Friday’s in five days!

You: That’s funny too!   When is Wednesday?

Me: Wednesday’s in three days.

You: Huh.   Well that doesn’t make any sense at all.   Let’s not talk about this anymore.

Your wisdom often demonstrates itself in ever the search for ever greater efficiencies, such as (as yet unsuccessful) attempts to change the status quo, such as advocating for dessert with dinner, on the grounds that (a) you might get too full to eat or enjoy dessert if you have to wait for it and (b) you’re guaranteed to eat the dessert bit which, if considered as part of dinner, therefore means a guaranteed percentage increase in daily amount of dinner consumed, making it a win-win situation.

Other times your discovered improvements are less ego-centric, such as the following gem you shared with your mother when the two of you took a shower together one evening: “When I’m in the shower and I have to go to the bathroom, I can actually go to the bathroom in the shower!”   On a not unrelated note, that was actually the last shower you’ve every taken with your mom.

As another example, in the apparent strive to make more efficient use of your energy, you have decided to simply cease all activity whenever I announce that it is bedtime, going into a form of self-induced torpor.   Hence, instead of expending your valuable energy on such tasks as, say, walking to your room and climbing in your bed, you now simply collapse into a boneless pool of arms and limbs and wait to have me fling you over my should and literally pour you into your bed.   At least, I’m chalking this up to a quest for improved biochemical efficiency rather than an appalling display of lethargy; then again, you do refer to such a state as being a lazy lump, so perhaps I’m being played.

You’ve also developed something of an interest in the TV show Eureka, which we either watch together on Friday nights when it’s on Syfy (or whatever the hell the SciFi channel is calling itself nowadays), or downstairs on DVD with popcorn and Junior Mints.   While I love the company, let me be brutally honest with you:

  • You’re Asian.
  • Your dad is a mathematician.
  • Your mom is a math teacher.
  • You’re not even 4, and you can work a computer, cell phone, MP3 player, digital camera…
  • You’re into geek stuff (Eureka, Avatar, Here Comes Science, etc.)

You are freakin’ doomed for life to be such a nerd.*

* Well, this and your apparent fascination with the Daily Show and President Obama, you have all the makings of an intellectual liberal elitist.   Which means I need to get you a hunting permit and have you bag yourself a buck before your Papa Shoo disowns you entirely.

Perhaps it is a side-effect of this maturity, but I find you’ve grown more and more nostalgic, regaling me daily with anecdotes from your past. Over the course of the month, however, I’ve discovered that while your cognitive understanding of past is detailed and multi-layered, your vocabulary for it is somewhat more limited, consisting of exactly two* phrases, namely:

  • When I was a baby, which refers to those things that happened to you between your birth and, say, the time you started getting teeth, and
  • Yesterday, which pretty much means everything else.

That latter term can be a bit confusing, especially when applied to sentences such asYesterday when we went to Mount Rushmore I had a hot dog, and then yesterday at school I also had a hot dog, just like I did yesterday,” in which the first yesterday might more accurately mean last month; the second yesterday might literally be yesterday, and the third yesterday might, in fact, refer to ten minutes ago.   I’ve occasionally tried to broaden your temporal lexicon from time to time, though each attempt usually ends in the same failure.   A typical exchange might be:

You: Hey! Dad!   Remember yesterday when I got my floss from the dentist?

Me: I do remember when you got you floss, but actually, yesterday you went to school with your friends.   You went to the dentist last week.

You: I didn’t go to the dentist yesterday?

Me: No.   Yesterday was just one day ago.   You went to the dentist… nine days ago now.

You: Oh…


You: Hey! Dad! Remember when I was a baby and I got my floss from the dentist?

Chronological conversations with you might be accurately described as “acutely dependent on context and shared memory,’ although “confusing as hell” is equally correct.

* Although occasionally you sneak in a new one.   For example, a couple of weeks ago we were sorting your shirts, and you found a purple tee that, being at the bottom of the drawer, you hadn’t worn in a while.   Excited, you yanked the shirt out, hugged it, and declared “Oh, my shirt!   I haven’t worn this in years and years!”

“You haven’t even been alive for years and years,” I commented.   “Years and years would suggest that you’re at least four, but you’re only three.”

“Oh,” you replied.   “Well then, I haven’t worn this shirt in year and year!”

You’ve also become increasingly interested in the concept of days, or at least their order and properties, as each school day has acquired interesting attributes as a result of school; for example, Wednesday is Show-and-Tell Day, Thursday is Movie Day, and Friday is Treasure-Box Day.     Not coincidentally, you’ve also come to realize that Saturday and Sunday have the enviable of property of weekenditude, or as you describe it whenever you find out it’s one of those two days, “I don’t gave to go to school…. YAY!”   Loverboy was right: everybody is working for the weekend.

Given all this cerebral activity on your end, it is therefore somewhat comforting to be reminded from time to time that you are still a three-year-old, and at no time is this more apparent than with you current fad activity, which is to aim your butt at people.   I’m not quite sure where you picked this up (I’d blame MTV except that we don’t watch it), but occasionally you’ll stop whatever you’re doing, walk over to me or mommy and grad our attention, and then turn around and stick your bottom in our general direction amid a flurry of uncontrollable giggling for a few moments, and then return to your previous activity.   It’s goofy, slightly embarrassing, and entirely inappropriate.

So maybe you’re a well-balanced three-year-old after all. I love you, butt head.

Ba ba

Photo album

You can see more pictures from your forty-third month over at Flickr.

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