Monday, March 19, 2012

Mischievous, Clever, Affectionate

When I enrolled Robinson in preschool for next school year, the application asked me to choose the three words that best describe him. I imagine this question is designed to tell the teachers and administrators of the preschool as much about the child as about the parent who fills out the application. I avoid words like "stubborn", which though not inaccurate, carry a negative connotation. I also avoid anything effusive that makes me seem like I lack self-awareness or that I have my head stuck up my kid's butt because I'm just so blindly in awe of this magnificent being I created. Nobody likes that mom, and by extension, that kid. I avoid words like "bright". Everyone thinks their kid is bright. Unless they think their kid is a dope. Then they describe him as "loving". See, I chose "affectionate". That way, when Robinson becomes so overcome with joy and excitement during dance time that he impulsively grabs the nearest child in what can only be described as a bear-hug-like embrace, as he has a history of doing, the teacher will not be surprised, she'll just think, "Ahhh, I get it." And "mischievous" and "clever" is meant to serve as a heads-up that Rob will try to circumvent her safety measures and find loopholes in her rules. At least I find him to be pretty crafty in that way. But totally in an adorable ragamuffin sort of way.

Robinson has a few words he can use. We call that his "vocabulary". Wanna know more? Read on.

Puppy: "Puppy" doesn't refer to actual puppies. It only refers to Jingle the Husky Pup Interactive Story Pup, a Christmas gift to Robinson from his Auntie Vickie. My mom reported to Vickie that Jingle Puppy is now always at Robinson's side and has become his favorite companion. Vickie's reaction was something like "It is?! Uh, I mean...It is!" Puppy becoming the Six to Rob's Blossom was a development nobody saw coming. You see, Jingle the Husky Pup Interactive Story Pup is intended only to be a companion to night time story books, and these night time story books have Christmas subject matter. So, he's really meant for story time only, and only during Christmas. I tried to pack him away after the holidays so that he would be fresh, exciting, and new next year, and Rob had none of it. He carries him everywhere. They have meals together. Rob likes to gnaw on his face. One morning, I picked Robinson up out of his crib before he had a chance to swipe Puppy, and the whole time I was changing Rob's diaper, he shook his head back and forth with his eyes shut tight, moaning "Pupppeeeee!" To those who respond, "Hmph, what's the big deal?" I would include the information that Puppy has a battery back in his tummy, a speaker in his skull, and if you press the button on his ear, a woman's voice purrs, "Jingle wants to read a story to you". He's so not machine washable, so not designed to live up to the wear and tear of an active toddler, and he's so not prepared to read a story on his own. I imagine this ending months from now, Velveteen Rabbit-style.
Bubble: "Bubble" refers to Bubble Guppies, Robinson's favorite children's TV program. He can't get enough of it, in fact, and when he wants to watch one of the episodes I have saved on my DVR, he walks around the house chanting "Bubble, bubble" until somebody turns it on for him.
Outside: A word he learned from Bubble Guppies, because they sing a song about going outside every episode, Robinson also happens to love going outside, and since he can say the word, he chants "ow-sad, ow-sad, ow-sad" and opens the back door, teeters over the threshold and steps into the yard. There's no stopping him. No, really. He can't be stopped. I've tried. He loves to just stomp around, barefoot in the grass. If it's wet grass because it's beginning to rain, even better. 

More: pronounced "moe", this word accompanies the gesture of thrusting a sippy cup into my lap, or my favorite, when Robinson picks up my left arm, removes whatever item is in my left hand (or he simply opens my fingers) then he places the cup in my hand. "Moe". I taught him to say that. It is so much nicer than listening to him cry and wail. I used to stare at him calmly, while he was mid-tantrum, and ask, "Do you want more milk? Is that why you're screaming? Just tell me you want more. It doesn't have to be this hard." He sniffled. His face relaxed and tear-free, he hands me his cup and says "Moe". Then I ask him to say "please". He furrows his brow and frowns at me, like he's thinking, "Well, do you want me to say 'more' or do you want me to say 'please'? Which is it? Make up your mind, woman!" I'm working on "please" and "thank you".

Penny: He loves The Big Bang Theory, and the beautiful Penny is a favorite character. If you don't watch the show, I'll tell you that there is a bit they do every week, where the obsessive-compulsive Sheldon knocks on her door, but his ritual goes like this: 
knock-knock-knock "Penny!"
knock-knock-knock "Penny!"
knock-knock-knock "Penny!"
So, one afternoon, while I was working on an art project that involves actual pennies, I pulled Robinson onto my lap to show him my progress and asked, "What do you think? See the pennies!" And Robinson smiled and knocked on the dining room table. Three times. Then he said, "Bea". I was a little taken aback, so I asked, "Penny?" Again, he smiled, knocked on the table three times and softly said "Bea." Now, if anybody knocks at the front door, he shouts "Bea!" If he sees a commercial for The Big Bang Theory on TV, he knocks on the nearest hard surface and shouts "Bea!" I'm telling you, if the actress Kaley Cuoco knocked on my front door, and Robinson answered to find the real Penny standing there, it would totally make his decade.

Mama: Ok, this seems obvious, but wait until you read more. Over the course of decorating the house, I have hung dozens of framed photos on the wall. As you might guess, I appear in many of the photos. Early on, Robinson began pointing at pictures of me, mostly in my wedding dress, and sweetly saying "Mama". I melted, Steve melted, we all clapped and cheered and had a big reaction. What lesson did Robinson take away from this? If you point at a picture and say "Mama", you get applause and kisses and cheers. So guess what happens to every picture Robinson sees? "Mama". Cardboard display of Rachael Ray in Walmart? "[pointing] Mama". Dakota Fanning on the cover of Cosmopolitan "[pointing] Mama". Ed Helms on The Hangover 2 DVD in the Walmart checkout aisle? "[pointing] Mama". I get a lot of strange looks from people. Every photographed image is "Mama", including images of Steve, much to his dismay. Also, anybody who is in a position to do something for Robinson, like give him candy, he calls "Mama". He just thinks "Mama" is an all-purpose word used to win friends and influence people. He isn't wrong. So what does he call me? He doesn't have to call me anything, because I never go away. He just hands me sippy cups and says "Moe". I very briefly believed that his name for me was "Moe". Sometimes, if he is in the playroom and I am in the kitchen, in a moment of desperation he will dramatically cry "Mahhhh-meeeee". That might be my name.

Other vocabulary words, shared without anecdotes:

bye (buh-bye, bye-bye, g'bye)

Oh, and this one time, I was feeding Robinson his breakfast at the kitchen table. He gazed out the window and saw our dog Libby walking in the backyard. It totally blew his mind that we were inside, on one side of the window, and she was on the other side. His eyes got huge, he pointed at her, grinning, and said "Uh-bee". I was dumbstruck. "Libby?! You said 'Libby'?!" He did, I swear, and I cannot get him to repeat it! Darn it!

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