Friday, January 26, 2007

You Can Eat Glue When it's on Rice Krispy Treats

J.J. is flunking langauge arts. His parents-as-teachers representative said that compared to other kids his age, he doesn't say as many words.

So, to help him, we're supposed to tell him out loud what he is doing.

Example: "J.J. is throwing dirt from the houseplants onto the floor. J.J. is sad because mommy said 'No.' J.J. looks like he is tapdancing but is actually throwing a fit. J.J. is trying to pour chocolate milk directly into his belly. J.J. is dropping doritos into his milk. J.J. makes delicious cocoa- cheese milk for all to enjoy." Etc.

Johnny plays along, too, when Justin and I are busy: "J.J. has his hand in the toilet again."

This plan is working already. J.J. likes being talked about in the third person. It makes him feel like he is in a novel.

And he repeats our words already, as long as they start with "b."

"Bah" means bottle, Ben, ball (and grape) and "I just emptied every toy box onto the floor and now somebody's at the door."

Justin is convinced that J.J. knows what every word means but prefers to speak in gorilla.

"Ooo. Ooo. Ooo," he says, bouncing up and down on his haunches when he wants something.

Richie, on the other hand, knows how to say lots of words, but rarely knows the meaning.

For instance, today we were making rice krispy treats. After licking the spoon, he looked at me point blank and said, "Sometimes, I hate poodles."

"That's not very nice," I said.

"Why?" he asked. "What's a poodle?"

"It's a dog," I said.

"Oh," he said, with surprise.

Well, he's not the first person to hate something without knowing anything about it.

I asked him what ingredients he thought went into rice krispy treats.

"Marshmallows and glue," he said.

"Can you eat glue?" I asked.

"You can when it's on rice krispy treats," he said.

I guess it's all about context.

Likewise, Johnny was reading a story about colors the other day. When he came to pink, a pig was on the page.

"That's wierd," he said. "Pink is a beautiful color, but pigs are gross."

Words, like glue, are all about context. It's not what you say but how you say it. And sometimes you can say it without saying a word.

J.J. has taught me that there is really no better way to say, "Come with me," than to pull somebody by the hand. If you're disappointed or frustrated, crying sums it up best. You can show your hunger most clearly by pointing at food and then at your belly. When you're tired, lying on the floor sends a clear message to all your friends: "That's it for me folks. Tiptoe around me, if you don't mind."

Language has always been my good subject. It's funny to have boys who would rather play ball, collect Pokemon cards and do science experiments than memorize the lyrics from Oliver! and write greeting cards, which is what I did for fun as a kid.

But they get their point across.

For instance, when Richie licked the spoon and said, "mmmm," his message was clear, "Mommy, I love glue."


Anonymous Pvandyke said...

I bet by the time JJ goes to college he'll be able to say "line 'em up barkeep"!

4:55 PM  
Anonymous pat said...

I'm cracking up - esp. the poodle line!

8:23 PM  
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