Monday, August 07, 2006

Big and Beeble

A lot of things the kids said when they were small have stuck and become part of our family lexicon. I think this happens in most families. Sometimes it’s something as simple as using “w” or “y” instead of an “l” in certain words. Other things are a little harder to explain to outsiders. We have a couple of favorites.

When my daughter was about two and a half or three, she started measuring the world and the things in it in comparison with her head. We’d tell her we had a surprise for her, and she’d ask, “Is it bigger than my head?” It made for an interesting perspective – a cantaloupe was about the same size as her head, a watermelon was bigger, but a navel orange smaller. We’d watch her from the corners of our eyes as she checked as to whether or not things were bigger than her head. She’d hold a serving spoon up to her cheek and attempt to peek at it out of the corner of her eyes to see if it was bigger or smaller. She did this with bouncy balls, dolls, food, pretty much everything. Spawn started doing it, too, only instead of using his own head, he’d use Bunny’s.

“Hey,” he called out to her one day after he’d gotten a new little red wagon, “c’mere.”

She toddled on over to him, hair in a topknot, flowered sundress on. “What?” she asked.

“Stick your head in this wagon and see if it fits,” he commanded. So, she did.

“Bigger” he pronounced, “definitely.”

She came hopping over to me and proudly stated, “Spawn’s new wagon is bigger than my head!”

“I would hope so, “ I said, “maybe he’ll take you for a ride in it.”

She hopped back over to Spawn and said, “You have to take me for a ride in your wagon.”

“Why?” he demanded.

“Because it’s bigger than my head,” she replied with great confidence.

“Oh,” said Spawn, and pondered for a moment, “OK, get in.”

We gathered from various similar situations that anything that was bigger than Bunny’s head a) was a good thing, based on size alone, and b) was supposed to be shared. Like the evil parents we are, we used this to our advantage, me especially.

One day I put out a tray of veggies and dip.

“Mine!” yelled Bunny.

“Nope,” I replied, “you have to share.”

“I don’t wanna!” she said and screwed up her face to cry.

I raised an eyebrow at her and said, “The tray is bigger than your head, isn’t it?”

She eyeballed the tray. She measured her head with her hands, just to be sure, and then held her hands over the tray, a head’s width apart. She sighed. “Oh, “ she said sadly, “OK, I’ll share.”

Bunny picked up a carrot stick and looked at it, considering. “This isn’t bigger than my head,” she said, “so I don’t have to share it.”

“Right,” I said, “it’s all yours.”

“OK,” she said and looked much happier.

Another toddler-based addition to our family language is “beeble”. When Doodle was a year and a half old, he loved to sneak up on Spawn and startle him while he was engaged in some very serious five and a half year old task, like building a Lego village. This drove Spawn nuts, and then he’d chase Doodle, Doodle would run over to me and grab my legs, I’d protect him, and there’d be Spawn – all wound up and no one to poke. It started to get on Spawn’s nerves pretty badly, having his concentration interrupted and then his revenge thwarted as Doodle peered at him from behind my legs, grinning mischievously, so Spawn stopped calling him by his name and simply called him “Evil Baby”.

One morning I was innocently enjoying the last half of my first cup of coffee at the dining room table before the kids got up. Or so I thought. I heard thumping and thudding overhead, then a shout of dismay and the sound of small feet charging down the upstairs hallway, down the stairs and through the living room towards me. Spawn was in the lead.

“THE EVIL BABY IS CHASING ME,” he screamed, running and hiding under the table, “Help! Stop the Evil Baby!”

I blinked and looked over towards the living room. Sure enough, here came Doodle, and he had a wet washcloth in either hand and one hanging out of his mouth. He was grinning maniacally. Around the washcloth he mumbled, “I’b the Beeble Baby, an’ I’b gonna get YOU!” And he flailed the washcloths around and around like medieval maces, droplets of water spraying all over.

I snorted coffee out my nose. Even Spawn thought that was pretty funny and started laughing. So, of course, from that day forward, any naughty behavior has been summarily labeled “beeble.”

And on that note, may your day have joys much bigger than your head and nothing the least bit beeble in it.

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