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  • Man of Many Words

    November 3, 2005

    As Sean approaches his second birthday, his language skills are really coming along. At the rate of about 100 words a day. And anything worth saying is worth saying 100 times. In a row.

    On a recent trip to the grocery store, Sean made the connection between the word “MEAT!” (all caps because a word such as that must be exclaimed with all due vigor) and cellophane clad chicken. He scrambled up a freezer case of chicken, peered inside and started pointing and hollering at the top of his lungs “MEAT! MEAT!” Only instead of just hollering it once or twice, he hollered it about 250 times, just in case someone in the grocery store (or the great state of Texas for that matter) hadn’t heard about this meat thing.

    Like a disciple for Bo Pilgrim, Sean continued to shout the good news about the meat up and down every aisle of the store, to the cashier, the bag boy, the teller at the drive-up window at the bank, the man who hung the dry cleaning in the back of the car and the UPS man who brought a package to the house later that afternoon.

    Some of the new words he has mastered, for some reason unknown to anyone but himself, totally and completely crack him up. The mere utterance of a select list of words sends the boy into hysterics. And the more the word is said, the funnier it gets, until he starts snorting and milk comes out of his nose. And boy is that funny. But no, we don’t do that just to amuse ourselves. Because that would be cruel. But funny.

    Anyway, we’ve learned not to say any of these words while he’s eating or drinking lest we find ourselves in a scene from Animal House. The most recent list of unquestionably funny words include, but are not limited to: Gigi, bulky, flip flop, bummer, stinky, and peeping. List is subject to change without notice.

    The list came in handy last week on Picture Day at Sean’s school. I anticipated that they might sit him down and ask him to say “cheese” at which time his Pavlovian response would kick in and he would hunch his shoulders, make a painfully weird fake smile resembling some rare neurological disorder and then squinch his eyes shut in anticipation of the flash. And when the class picture came out, he would then forever be remembered as the boy in pre-school who had a Grand Mal seizure on picture day.

    To avoid that scenario (and because I am just that much of a control freak) I sent him to school with “The List” taped to his jacket so that my boy might produce a genuine smile and be remembered, in the years to come, as a reasonably normal kid (in spite of his parents).

    I further instructed the photographer that to get a real smile, have him say “Gigi” – the name of the beautiful, beloved and bejeweled God Mother who always has a magic purse full of fun. Just the saying of her name lights up his face.

    On the other hand, if you want a good laugh and don’t mind wearing food, give him a glass of milk and handful of Goldfish and go to the list.

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