Monday, May 18, 2009

Pizza Pie

I’m standing in the kitchen watching Zoe peel an orange in the back yard. As she peels off each small piece she looks over the edge of the porch, places the orange peel on the edge, and pushes it over. Then she then leans over and looks down to see where it landed. She does this with a half a dozen pieces before she notices me looking out the window

Zoe: “Fell.”

Dad: “The orange peel fell off the porch?”

Zoe: “Yeah.”

Dad: “How did they fall?”

Zoe: “Pizza pie.”

Needless to say I let the conversation end there. Later we were going through our goodnight routine. It’s my job to say goodnight first to all the stuffed animals in her bed, then we go through her friends, people we know and family. Alison has been pushing for Zoe to say to the goodnights herself. I try to help her along, but she has trouble thinking of people.

Dad: “Whom should we say goodnight to?”

Zoe (in a whisper): “Pizza pie.”

She really knows how to stump me.

Communicating with Zoe is both challenging and amusing. She says things out of context, pizza pie, and because her vocabulary is so limited she will use one or two words to convey an entire thought. In fact, the phrase ‘no mine’ is used almost exclusively to convey dislike, especially in those cases in which another person is involved. In the pool today, at the YMCA, I got tired of that monosyllabic, non-articulated whine to convey her displeasure whenever I saved her from drowing. So I told her that if she wanted to do something herself, and did not want or need my help, to say ‘myself’. If she wanted my help she should say ‘help’. This actually worked pretty well, except for those times that she thought she needed my help but changed her mind at the last minute, and then forgot to inform me. Then it was back to, "no mine."

Last night, as Alison was saying her final goodnights, she told Zoe to get a good nights sleep because she had swimming in the morning. Zoe said Y (as in YMCA), but Alison interpreted it as ‘why?’ I was upstairs listening to the conversation over the monitor, and it was similar to the ‘Who’s on First’ skit. I speak not often well myself, so it’s a little scary to think that Zoe (and now Calder) will be picking up a goodly percentage of their verbal skills from me. In the meantime Zoe (and now Calder) make up for this deficit by being very cute. And really, isn’t that more important anyway?

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