posts tagged with 'conversation'

winning life

The boys played The Game of Life today with their grandparents. At bedtime Harvey was telling me that he almost won... he was just $10,000 behind Zion.

"You win life by finishing with the most money?" I asked him, like the good hippy I am. "I think it's more like, you win if everyone who knows you loves you!"

That sounded good to him. "Then I already win!" he said. "I'm speedrunning life!"

But no: you need to have everyone love you at the end. That's harder, I think. But I agree, he's off to a great start!

how big is the galaxy?

We were reading a Calvin and Hobbes comic and Lijah got interested in the size of the galaxy. I let him know that I could look it up and tell him, but it wouldn't be a meaningful number. He still wanted to know. So I started typing into my phone, and read out the Google suggestions as they came up. "Size of..." gave "size of queen bed", "size of king bed", and "size of twin bed". "Size of the..." predicted us to be wondering about the sun, the moon, or the earth. "Size of the g..." gave us "great lakes", "grand canyon", and, finally, "galaxy." Reading the wikipedia page we learned that the Milky Way galaxy is between 170,000 and 200,000 light years across; a light year is 5.88 trillion miles; so in units we can comprehend, the diameter of the galaxy is somewhere in the neighborhood of one quintillion miles.

"So," said Lijah, who never misses a trick, "it's bigger than a twin bed?"

the interrogation

For some reason, people at the Community Dinner keep asking Harvey about school. It might just be because that's the only thing adults can thing to ask kids—they might be the type to ask other adults where they work. Or maybe there's an element of paternalism to it: we're the ones getting a free dinner, and the questioners have been the volunteers serving. In any case, he does very well. Like yesterday evening.

Question Lady: Look at these lovely children! Your name is Harvey? Harvey, what grade are you in?

Harvey: Um, second.

QL: Oh, so you're at Davis School?

H: No.

QL: Where do you go to school?

H: At home.

Question Lady—a former second-grade teacher herself, it must be said—then engaged me on the topic of why we chose to homeschool. I was trying to get Lijah to eat at the time, and also keep up a conversation with Zion, so I'm not sure I gave the subject the attention it deserved, but I did manage to say something. Then she asked Harvey about his favorite book, and kept on the question for a while (for record, he came up with the two extant books of the Tib and Tumtum series).

A few weeks ago a different QL asked him if he liked his teacher. He smiled and said something like, "I have to! It's Dada!" I appreciate that.

I don't object to people asking questions. Questions are good. But it's tough being non-normative in this case. I was thinking, sitting in the library a little later, than I was going to start doing something similar.

QD: Oh, your boys are at the elementary school in town? Why did you decide to send them to school?

Would that be rude?



No, this post isn't about catching the end of the blueberry harvest: we did one trip at the beginning of the season and were satisfied with the 17 pounds we brought home. Instead, it's about Lijah's latest demand.

Two-year-olds are interesting: they spend a lot of time expanding their independence, but when they want babying they want it now! When Harvey and Zion were that age, they asked for "uppy" when they wanted to be carried. Sometimes "I want uppy!", but mostly just "uppy!" Or "UPPY!!!" Lijah will have nothing to do with such baby-talk: with him the demand is simply, "PICK!!"

That's short for "pick me up", of course; I suppose he doesn't have the solid grounding in syntax and pragmatics to know why his shortening doesn't make sense. Though it's certainly not like he can't make perfectly respectable sentences when he's a little calmer, like "I'm drawin a knight with a sword fightin a monster with a sword". Just a couple minutes ago he was failing to go to sleep and Leah called me in to hear his joke. "Why did the chicken cross the playground?" he asked me.

I know that one! "To get to the other slide!"

"No, I was goin to say that part! Why did the chicken cross the playground?"


"Because he wanted to get to the other slide!" Or maybe he said side. It's actually impossible to distinguish, the way he talks, so that joke is maybe not the best one for him to tell. (In case you never heard it before, it's not original to him: he got it from Harvey, who got it from a book.)

In any case, all that is to say he speaks pretty well most of the time, which is why it seems all the funnier—or more infuriating, depending on circumstances—to hear him crying repeatedly, "pick! PICK!!"


Lijah's language today

I had a delightful time playing with Lijah early this morning, before the other boys were up and while Mama got some well-deserved time to exercise outside of the house. His vocabulary and sentence structure are expanding by leaps and bounds—which is just what he needs to show off his distinctive personality.

Lijah with his bike helmet on and swim goggles pushed up on his forehead

a great summer look

This morning the game was knights. A small portion went like this:

Lijah: "I put you in the dungeon with the baby dragon. Lock lock lock. You locked up!"

Me: "Oh no! The dragon will eat me!"

L: "No he won't do anything bad to you. He won't eat you or burn you with his fire or... put something on your head."

Of course, I've standardized the spelling—his language may be sparkling, but his speech is still a little impenetrable! But the grammar and everything else is all his. It's very impressive; too bad no one else can understand him!


what the kids are saying

There are times—oh, there are times!—when the boys' voices annoy me. But then there are lots of other moments when the things they say are fascinating and delightful. Lijah, for example, is improving his syntax and sentence complexity by leaps and bounds; to wit: "I'm not in the play, I'm watchin the play!"

Harvey of course has all the vocabulary. The other evening I mentioned all the good books he'd read, and he replied, "amazingly, I didn't read any books today... just peered into the books Zion was reading."

Those were last week; I had to wait to gather a sample of Zion speech, because he's the middle child so sometimes I have a hard time paying attention to him. But this evening he was digging a hole in the garden and contemplating what he might find if he went deep enough. He has a theory: "It goes: treasure, dinosaur bones, oil, hot lava."

As you can see, there are lots of words around here. It's lovely.


when I said family meeting, I didn't mean that kind of meeting

Leah: Did you circle back with your mom about plans for tomorrow?
Dan: silence
Leah: You're not acknowledging me because I used the term 'circle back?'
Dan: That's correct.

Harvey develops accurate retelling of past events

"Me and Zion and the alligator played in Rascal's water!"

"Oh yeah?"

"Yeah! I splashed and Zion splashed. Then we had to get changed because we were wet."

The alligator in question is the one you can see at the end of this video. I don't think it was the instigator here. Zion, on the other hand...


minor confusion

Harvey was measuring things this morning with a rubber band, which he calls a bandaid. "This costs three and a half inches," he announced for each item. Except for the ones that were fourteen and a half inches, or fourteen three and a half. He clearly has a fine career as a surveyor ahead of him, or maybe a cashier.

I had a grand Martin Luther King Day post planned except we lost our internet this afternoon. Silly Harvey stories are about all I can type on this phone.


but Harvey talks

While we were stopped at a light on the way home from small group this evening Harvey pointed out the water feature—a fountain waterfall thingy outside a hotel or office park—that he enjoys seeing every week. "There's the water!" he said. For my part, I was amazed at how loud the crickets were at that particular intersection, so I mentioned them to him. "Crickets in the water." he said.

"No," I told him, "Crickets don't live in the water. They need air like we do. They live in the grass."

"And trees!" he said. We've talked about this before. After a moment or two, he adds, "Crickets aren't fish."

I have to say I was kind of impressed. It sure is fun to watch his ability to think abstractly—and to express his thinking—grow by leaps and bounds. I don't hang out with a lot of two-year-olds, but I'm going to go out on a limb anyways and say that ours is particularly exceptional.