Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Thoughtful election coverage. Scratch that. Duck butts.

I was going to try to do one of those "Wordless Wednesday" posts, but I don't have any good pictures to put up, and it seems like you really should have something to share if you don't have words; so I'm going to do the opposite and not only use words, but talk about them as well.  Anyway, I was really just trying to get out of writing, because I feel kind of drained, mostly due to this election we had over here in the U.S. of the A.

After Dr. Mom got home from work last night, we took the kids and the dog and walked to our polling station, voted, and felt like good Americans.  Then I listened to the coverage on the radio for a few hours as I went about the rest of the evening, and I started to feel dirty.  Every candidate that opened his or her mouth evoked my Holden Caulfield response: "Phony!"  And we don't even have the tee vee, so we were spared all the horrible ads.  Nor do we have a land line, so we missed the robocalls as well.  I feel bad for anyone who had to endure that onslaught of soul-sucking crap.

The results seem to be pretty much what the reasonable pundits were predicting, so it's not really a big surprise.  Considering that the Democrats (about whom I can't really get excited these days anyway) were outspent seven to one, thanks to the worst goddamn Supreme Court decision in recent history,  they didn't do that badly.  And at least California didn't go all tea-baggy.  But still, the whole business left me enervated.

The thing that I'm psyched about, though, is language.  Specifically the language that is starting to seep into my kids' brains, and sometimes come out of their mouths.  They understand a lot.  I can give them pretty complicated instructions (e.g., "Go to the closet and get your sister's purple socks and bring them to her") and, depending on their mood, they sometimes do what I ask them.  They can identify all kinds of animals in real life and in picture books, and they have a small repertoire of words(ish) that they yell on cue, like "bathtime!" and "bowl!" (which also works as "ball!")

It probably doesn't surprise you that a couple toddlers would start acquiring language, but as for me, it blows my mind.  I had heard about it and read about it, but never really seen it happen.  I mean, it's pretty cool to see them figuring out how to negotiate their world in a physical way, walking and climbing and picking up and opening and closing; but to start figuring out how to refer to the physical world using a symbolic system--that's freakin' human.  We have actual little people living among us.

Here they are negotiating the physical world, at a baby gear store where we were shopping for new car seats:

They seem to be pretty close to each other in terms of what words they know, but Butterbean is usually more into showing off her skills.  She likes to play the "where's the [insert name of animal]?" game with books and pictures and can reliably point out about ten different species.  Cobra will do so when pressed or in the mood, but often gives me a look like, "I'm not your trained monkey, and I'm not going to point out every stupid critter in this book."  Then she shows me who is in fact the trained monkey by making me cluck and bark and neigh for her entertainment.

As if recognizing words and sounds isn't amazing enough, the fact that they can identify stylized cartoon drawings as elephants and cats really floors me.  I don't see how even a grownup person with limited exposure to zoology and children's literature, much less a baby, could tell that a Sandra Boynton rhinoceros was supposed to be the same beast as one drawn by Eric Carle.  But somehow they know.

Their spoken vocabulary is pretty limited at this point, but I think it is poised to explode into toddler poetry at any moment.

They've been saying "mama" and "dada" for months now, and of course, "shoes" was their first common noun.  Since then, they've added "cheese," and, as I mentioned, "bathtime" which we all chant as we march from the dinner table to the tub.

They also can approximate a couple Vietnamese phrases (Dr. Mom speaks a lot of 'Namese around them), like "đi chơi!" ("go play!"), which is what we holler as we stamp toward the door on our way to a fun outing; and "bướm bướm" which means "butterfly," but is easier and more fun to say.

Another word they like is "bowl."  They probably picked this up because Dr. Mom and I tend to say that word with all kinds of drama, drawing it out and accompanying it with ridiculous mugging.  This is due to an incident years ago in Costa Rica, when we witnessed an Ugly American repeatedly demanding a "BOOOWWWWLLLL"  from the waiter in an heladería,  because it bothered him to eat his ice cream off of a plate.  In any case, the girls have a lot of fun with this word, and will sometimes sing it out for minutes at a time.

"I can't eat out of this!  Get me a boooowwwwlllll..."

In just the last couple of days, there have been times (especially bathtimes for some reason) during which the twins will imitate almost any word or phrase we say.

Also, they have discovered the comedic value of butts*.  You can see where this is going. 

Last night in the tub, Butterbean started slapping Cobra on the behind, which made both of them (okay, and their parents) laugh a lot.  I offhandedly remarked, "Butts are funny."

That encouraged Butterbean to say, "Butt butt butt butt" for the next two or three minutes, as her parents tried to suppress their laughter and twisted pride.  

In an effort to distract Butterbean from her butt-filibuster, I waved a rubber ducky in her face, and said, "Duck duck duck duck," to which she responded, "Duck butt, duck butt, duck butt." 

Words are powerful.

*Like the ability to recognize animals from grotesque caricatures, the appreciation of butt jokes seems hardwired into the human genome.


  1. So, no potty talk? My girls called their boobies 'chichis'.. which my Italian gf told me meant 'vajayjay' in Italian... I would think having two at once, the vocab and everything else would come faster... omg, hope u got the babyproofing down.. then again my last one knew how to bypass those locks!.

  2. I really need them to say "Michelle is the best babysitter this side of El Cajon" next time I see them. Can you work on that?


  3. I'm worried when my son begins to talk he's gonna have a potty mouth because of me. Have you had to curb your language at all?

    Thanks for the shout out on the header, man. It's pretty awesome. I can't get over how neat it looks. I keep finding stuff. Today I noticed a helicopter shooting a rocket at them!

  4. Duck butts.


    That about sums up my understanding of american politics, anyway.

  5. Ah, the shared experience. I experienced two asshole Americans in Paris. My first time was the portly American yelling "CHEESEBURGER" to the French waiter. It helps if you yell really loudly. Then the 20 something French ice cream cart girl was being yelled at by an American asking if they had fat free in English, the girl looked on the verge of tears. The American was yelling at the girl and was disgusted she didn't speak English. Please, fellow Americans, if you want your French experience in English please visit Epcot or Vegas. Thanks.

  6. What a fun time! Besides learning regular words, our firstborn invented them: You didn't want to be called "Dunken Orger!"
    And "Poodley Tumley" seemed to mean "Whatever!"

  7. I remember when my daughter first started talking, now at 2.5 she's a yapper and mom and dad have to be a lont more careful about what we say! She's a mocking bird and i would love if i could take back a few phrases and teach her duck butt!!

    BTW love the new title picture!!

  8. @KBF--Actually, speech tends to come a little later in multiples. Nobody's sure why, but there's some conjecture that it's because they use "twin language" to communicate with each other and therefore don't need standard language as soon. But you can definitely see them copying each other when they talk. As far as the safety latches--that just slows them down a bit.

    @Mish--I'll start working on that. It's probably better if you teach them yourself though.

    @Frank--I have *tried* to curb my foul language. I don't think you need to worry about it until they start getting interested in talking though.

    @Keely--That's all you need to know!

    @Judi--I've seen the type all over the world. But the (kind of) good news is that all the a-hole tourists are not American. There are a lot of Aussies, Brits, Germans, etc. who are pretty obnoxious. It's just that in some places, like Paris, there are so damn many of them (

    @Granny--Those are classics! Naturally, we'll be training the girls to incorporate them into their vocabulary.

  9. When do they start inventing their secret twin language that will help them keep secrets from you? Is it too soon for that?

    P.S. It's never too early for funny butt humor. You know I don't do this very often, but I'm including a link to the post where my kid discovered exactly how funny butts can be.

  10. My brother and I aren't twins (2 years apart), but we can still speak so quickly to each, using so many inside references and code words, that my parents and even his wife can't follow us. It's fun.

  11. so cute..i love them..keep on posting.

  12. Language is a lot of fun. I remember when my oldest started to construct real sentences and how amazing it was to me.

    Now I am still amazed by things he and his sister say, but it is a bit different. There is nothing better than having a kid explain to you that the middle finger means fuck you dad.

    In his defense I should add that he was referring to something he saw and not to me.

    Now our discussions about language also include all sorts of material from 4th grade English. I love it but I admit that sometimes I miss that toddler stage you are in now.

  13. I love what you've said here about how it's mind blowing to watch kids pick up on the common qualities of a duck (or a butt, is there an Eric Carle illustration to test that with?) even when the duck is purple, hand-drawn, or IRL in a pond. I used to marvel at the same thing when my first started picking up language skills.

  14. Over here in Oz we'd use "Duckbutts" as a swear word.

    You trained your kids to push their own prams? How handy!

  15. I am a lurker. I follow blogs on the sly. Creepy as it sounds it is not due to some unfounded fear of being physically anihilated by a stray blog virus but because around the time when you were Blog of Note, the 'Follow' tab just wouldn't open for me. Now that it does, I am a follower.
    You are witty.
    And your 'favourite' Single Dad Laughing is Blog of Note now. It's a sad world, but your blog's a blast.

  16. Oh my...and the language thing never gets better. My 11 year old know she cannot say any "bad words" but phrases still get her. I had to explain what "going all the way" meant just last week because she was singing it loudly in a song that was on the radio.

  17. You're doing a great job, Dad. The correct words, though admittedly very amusing and occasionally inappropriate, still contribute to fewer problems in the future:

    My youngest somehow managed to mix up the meaning of boobies and boo-boos and therefore became extremely outraged after a scraped knee when Gramma offered to kiss her boo-boo.

    Anyway, butts are funny and DUCK the charts!!

  18. Yeah, even my grown daughters are fond of the butt word. STILL. They frequently ask, What's up, chicken butt? And they have a fascination with all things that are ugly as buttcrack. Or worse.

    Um, I'm not sure where they got it. At all.

  19. It's a long road. My kids repeated the words "duck butt" to each other over and over again for months. Never failed to bring the lols.
    It's because of the book "Click Clack Moo." The last page shows a duck diving into the water, and they thought the duck butt was quality humor.
    Highly recommend the book, by the way.

  20. Oh yeah, my five love the word butt. I make a baked chicken and a cut lemon goes into the cavity, which of course means it's "lemon butt chicken" for supper! (That has 177 hits on Google. Now 178 I guess.)

    My son stayed with his invented words the longest. You didn't want to be a "goochie dum" but gladly, I was a "super-cubber-lubber." Good times!

    Love your blog!

  21. Kids are amazing. My nephew is 5 it's crazy, some of the things that come out of his mouth.

    And yeah, kids discovering the humor of butts is sort of a rite of passage.

  22. I love the new header photo!

    And, I fear what words my baby is going to learn from her dad and our shady roommate.


Don't hold back.


Related Posts with Thumbnails