Monday, November 21, 2011

The Banality of Adorableness

I realized that I've been reluctant to write about the normal things my kids are doing lately that I find amazing and super-cute.  This is because I assume that most readers would find this material tiresome, not being the parents of my kids.

As a result of my omitting these episodes, my wife and I have forgotten a lot of the amazing and super-cute things the girls were doing just a few months ago, and have no record of them.

We've had a number of these conversations:
Wife: Did you hear Cobra say such-and-such tonight?
Me: Yes!  So cute!
Wife: We should write that down somewhere.
Me: Yeah.  One of us should start a blog or something.  Lol.
Wife: You never write about this kind of stuff on your blog though.
Me: Yeah, I guess not.  But it doesn't really matter.  That was so cute, we'll never forget it.
And these:
Wife: What was that thing Butterbean used to say for "zipper"?
Me: Oh man!  That's right!  She was obsessed with zippers for a while.  Was it "fschlawbie"?
Wife: No...that was what she said for "flowers."  It was something like "zhu zhu."
Me: "Vroo hee"?
Wife: No...more like, something like..."vun vun" or "sha sha."
Me: "Roo too"?
Wife: "Fahr fahr"?
Me: "Wah hah"?
So from now on, I'll be documenting in excruciating detail just how brilliant (by which I mean "within the range of normal development") and adorable my kids are, so my wife and I can look back and remember these times once they have reached the age of unbearableness.

Please join me on this amazing journey through the exact same thing most parents have experienced since man started walking upright and using language.

 Nouns-->Verbs, Adjectives-->Nouns

I took a linguistics class in grad school, and one of the most fascinating principles we read about and discussed was the difference between learning language and acquiring it.  When you learn a language, you have to memorize the grammar rules and the exceptions to those rules and apply them to every sentence you construct.  When acquiring a language as a little kid, however, you just pick up bits of it, make up theories about how it works, and then test those theories by blurting out whatever combination of words you think will get you that chocolate bunny cracker you've had a hankering for.

Our kids are almost two and a half now, and they talk a lot.  Probably not much more than than the average kid, but, you know, there are two of them, so there's a lot of chatter at any given time.  

Sadly, their Vietnamese has stagnated a little, since they hear so much more English.  But my wife says they're still learning and understanding, even though they don't speak it very much. 

In English, they're getting pretty good at distinguishing between present and past tense, but they make the typical errors that are way more logical than the English language, like saying "catched" instead of "caught."  

They're just starting to figure out pronouns, which is a pretty tough concept.  They used to always say "you" when referring to themselves, because that's what their mom and I always call them; but they're catching on to the "I" idea.  Butterbean does this thing where she uses "my" to refer to herself, but only in certain constructions, like "my peeing," or "my eating."  My theory is that she's trying to say "I'm", but it's coming out backwards.  She's also experimenting with some more complicated constructions, such as "I like to [go, eat, play, etc.]." 

Speaking of "I like," Butterbean--and to a lesser extent Cobra--have started declaring their love for various things: occasionally (and with some prompting) even their parents and one another. 

One of the smartest and most unintentionally funny linguistic gambits they've been making is changing nouns into verbs.  For instance, they know that when we ride bikes, it's called "biking," and when we go on the swings it's called "swinging."  So of course, riding on their scooters is "scootering," and playing on the monkey bars is "monkey barsing."  My favorite invented verb resulted when I asked Butterbean what she was doing digging around in her nose with her finger.  "Boogering," she replied.  Of course.

Another trick that Butterbean started working on is morphing adjectives into nouns by adding the suffix "ness."  Since she's often troubled by (self-generated) schmutz or spillage, the most common examples of this are "dirtiness" and "messiness," as in "Daddy, Daddy, clean it, Daddy!"  "Clean what, sweetie?"  "The messiness, Daddy."


One more of those noun-to-verb words they've been using a lot lately is "mustaching," which is what Dad does when he scratches the kids and Mom with the disreputable looking wire brush on his upper lip.  It's the cause for much hilarity.  

Also adorable
But the mustache is not just for laughs.  I'm growing it to help raise awareness and money for research on prostate and testicular cancer, through an international movement called Movember.  My mustache team (never thought I would be on one of those),  has raised more than $12,000 (!!!) so far, which is freaking amazing.  Thanks to those of you have donated, and if you haven't yet, please drop a couple bucks on my page or on my team's page.  No amount is too small.  I think not anyway.  It might have to be at least a dollar.  I don't know.




  1. "Boogering" = awesoming. As does your mustaching.

  2. Watching my nephew's language change is such a highlight for me. I see him about once a week and every time it's something new. At the moment he is getting better at really pronouncing words and has a vaguely English accent (which is odd being we live in Australia). You should definitely write more about the girls language development.It may be too cutesy for some, but I love it! And you really need that record. They really do grow up so fast. Plus you need material for their 21st birthday speech!

  3. Dude, we love hearing this stuff. Boogering. Ha! The Nugget sees me writing lists a lot and this seems super exciting to her, so I gave her a pen and paper the other day. When her dad asked her what she was doing she said, "I'm wisting!" Love those early language follies!

  4. Your twins have grown and changed so much ... time to change that header or have a new (second) set of babies?

  5. I looooove that she was boogering! Why has no one thought of this before! She's going to go far!

    I agree that you need to write more posts like this so we can all laugh, I mean so you have a record. Yeah, so you can have a record! It's important!

  6. Laughing at our children's linguistic challenges is ALWAYS good clean fun!

  7. There a few words that for some reason my three year old will repeat the last syllable of over and over. My favorite is balloon which he pronounces "balloon-noon-noon-noon". Always with three "noons".

    Now I just need to remember that I have officially documented this here in the comments of your blog.

  8. @letmestart--I'm thankyouing for your comments

    @Nikki--I'm going to write about this stuff whether it makes people puke or not!


    @KBF--The prospect of making a new banner is almost as exhausting to me as the prospect of more kids.

    @Momnextdoor--Yes. Important for the future. Not just for cheap laughs at their expense.

    @Muskrat--As you know, good clean fun is the only kind I enjoy.

    @Christian--Cobra does that too! The best is that weird, spiny, tropical fruit called rambutan. Cobra says "rambutan-tan-tan-tan." She does it with a lot of other words I can't remember right now. Better write 'em down.

  9. Verbing weirds language.

    I've actually just come from teaching my class about language acquisition, and you're right. Their tiny heads are buzzing with theories and hypotheses about how language works, and by the sounds of it, they're really getting the hang of it.

    I definitely think 'boogering' should actually be a word. Morphology is a truly powerful thing.

    Good work with the 'tache. Mine is nearly at the stage where I can twiddle the ends. By this time next week it will be positively luscious.


  10. Lately, the boy has been taking poop through all of its derivations. He has really conjugated the, well, poop out of it.

  11. Witnessing the growing up process is pretty wonderful (a bit tough during the early portions due to lack of sleep).

    Your article reminds me of an audio clip that I heard recently (in Radiolab's episode called "Time")called "Nancy Grows Up". It's a sound time lapse of a little girl's vocal maturation over a period of 13 years or so.

    Pretty cool. I thought you might get a kick out of it.

  12. Will they be turkeying today? Happy Thanksgiving from Schenectady (via Vermont).

  13. L. somehow took the "-ed" logic to its extreme, with "runeded" [ran], "fixeded," "playeded," etc.

    R.'s first joke was a pun--how hard is that?--at age 2ish:

    Me: [Drinking coffee].
    R.: What's that?
    Me: Coffee.
    R.: [Coughs twice].


  14. BOOGERING?! I AM SO USING THAT! Please share all the itty bitty bits and pieces. I haven't any children so I wish to live vicariously through your blog posts about all the stuff your twins do on a daily basis. SHARE SHARE! SHE-SHE

  15. Hey Beta Dad,

    great post! I'm in the same boat and sometime being a dad is wonderful and some other times, not so much...
    But I love every minute of it!

    Seeya around



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