Thursday, November 15, 2007

Conversations with Lumpyhead

An interesting side effect of preschool and parking my child in front of the television for long unsupervised stretches is that Lumpyhead spouts new words and phrases that Bump and I have not taught him.

He surprises us with odd things, like shaking Bump’s hand and saying “Nice to meet you, Papa.” (Actually, Little Dude, you’ve met that guy already, on several occasions. You were sober during all of those introductions, so now you're just being rude. Also, we need to work on that dead fish handshake by the time you go for your first job interview.)

Or when we announce it is time for dinner and Lumpyhead enthusiastically declares “Oh boy! I love eating food!” (If that’s true, why are you so damn skinny? And “oh boy”? I’m sure I have never said that. Oh shit, oh crap, oh please, oh man . . . so where in the hell did you hear “oh boy”?)

Often he mumbles through the filler, and we're left to piece together what he means by the keywords. But every once in awhile he produces a full thought and accompanying complete sentence. “Hey mama, you wanna build track with me?” (Well, no, I’m leaving for work right now. But since you asked so nicely, sure, I’ll build track with you. I’ll blame traffic.)

We habitually repeat what he says, so Lumpyhead has taken to issuing most of his statements in the form of a question. Our little Jeopardy contestant has figured out his name is not you, but still makes all declarations in the form they are to be repeated. Then he happily answers our planted question, with a strangely hispanic accent.

Lumpyhead: [finishing dinner] Are you all done?
Me: Are you all done?
Lumpyhead: Jessss. . .

Sometimes we fail to repeat the question, so he asks again with emphasis. Just like we do to him when he’s ignoring us.

Lumpyhead: Do you want coo-keys?
Me: [no response, because he’s not getting cookies]
Lumpyhead: Do you want coo-keys? Do you want coo-keys? Do you want coo-keys, Lumpyheeyud?
Me: [resigned] Do you want cookies, Lumpyhead?
Lumpyhead: Jessss. . .

While these instances are fun, typically we have no idea what the hell Lumpyhead is babbling about. Much to his frustration, the random blend of noises and letter combinations he spends his time chanting have no meaning to us English-speaking, context-requiring, unimaginative simpletons.

But there is a great satisfaction - on his part as well as ours - when the occasional lightbulb switches on and we solve the mystery of what the fuck “calibowl” means.
Lumpyhead: You go to Aunt Bob’s [mumble snorf] tapas and calibowl?
Me: What? You want to go to Aunt Bob’s for tapas and calibowl? Dude, I have no idea what the hell –
Lumpyhead: Calibowl.
Me: Calibowl?
Lumpyhead: Tapas! Tapas and calibowl. Tamas.
Me: Oh, okay, Thomas. Fine, Thomas and calibowl. Calibowl. That really doesn’t help. Can you show me? . . . No? Well. . .
Lumpyhead: Thomas and calibowl. [repeat for five minutes. . . ] You go to Aunt Bob’s and play Thomas and calibowl.
Me: [LIGHTBULB] Clarabel! Clarabel! You want to go to Aunt Bob’s and play with Thomas and Clarabel?
Lumpyhead: [grinning like a madman] Jeesss. . . .
Me: (Yay! I got it! I understood! But. . .) No, we’re not going to Aunt Bob’s right now.
Lumpyhead: [crushed]

A lot of work for one little victory. A great, fleeting, useless victory.

And for the record, Aunt Bob’s Little Guy doesn’t even have Clarabel. He’s got Annie. Now come here and let's work on that handshake.


Violet said...

I really do think that television teaches 'em language skills. Which is why my Chinese New Zealander daughter knows so many Spanish words.

Em said...

You're capturing him so well I feel like I was there.

Maybe Bump says "Oh Boy" when you're at work to fuck with you.

Auntly H said...

I want to try this at work.
me: Do you want me to do a fabulous job drawing this building accurately?
intern: Do you want me to do a fabulous job drawing this building accurately?
me: YES!

Maybe it doesn't work that direction. How about:

me: Do you want a big fat raise and more vacation?
boss: Do you want a big fat raise and more vacation?
me: YES!

Anne said...

OMG, that explains it! When I was over there last weekend he kept asking me if I was all done during dinner, and I wasn't even eating anything! I was sooooo confused ...

Also, big points to your Boy Gourmand for requesting tapas. Does he also like sushi and profiteroles?

Julie said...

Kids must wonder why we want them to speak so clearly -- what good does it do, if we're just gonna say "no" to their question anyway?

MP said...

That was one of the funniest things I've read...I love the Jesss. I kept thinking of what's his name, the hand puppet guy. Mr..??? ggrrrr no time to google it.