Monday, January 6, 2014

A Vocabulary Lesson Gone Wrong

One of my jobs as a mother is to ensure that my children grow up to be intelligent people.  That's one reason I introduced the word "bipedal" to my son, Henry.  The other reason is that Henry insists one transversing our living room in a gallop on all fours.  It's loud, it's annoying, and it can sometimes make a mess (it's hard to watch where you are going at that speed with your head down).

Ken and I have tried all manner of getting him to stop. We've pleaded, we've yelled, we've punished, we've bribed, all to no avail. He remembers for a few minutes (or the rest of the trip), but he inevitably goes back to it the next time he needs to go to a different room.

Saturday night as he was galloping to bed, I called him back to me and told him I was going to teach him a new word.  "It's 'bipedal.'  Can you say that?"  He repeated it and then I asked him if he knew what it meant. With great big eyes, he shook his head "no" and waited for me to explain further.

"Bipedal means that an animal gets around on two legs.  Humans are bipedal.  I want you to remember that you need to be bipedal."

And then he burst into tears!

I'll allow that some of the tears were from being tired, but he was genuinely upset that I was asking him to walk on two legs.  I got him to stop crying long enough to get him to explain why he was so upset.

"Mommy, I like to pretend that I'm a dog. And that's how dogs move."

OK, so there's a sensible reason in his head.  He does like to pretend to be a dog.  A dog named Sparky, to be precise.  And Benjamin is frequently a cat named Calvin, but I digress.

I still don't like all the noise and knocking into things.  I also don't like dogs (sorry...I'm a cat person).  So my quick-thinking mommy brain came up with this.

"Can you think of any animals that go around on two legs?"

We thought for a moment.


"Yes, birds, are bipedal.  Any others?"

He looked at me blankly for a little bit and I could tell he did not want to pretend to be a bird.  He was still mad at me for asking him not to be a dog.  Then I had a brilliant idea!

"What about T-Rex?? He's bipedal, right?  And he's got those dinky little arms out in front."  And then I did my best/worst T-Rex impression and that got all three kids laughing.

Then I made the fatal mistake. I went too far.  I jumped up off the couch, made a silly T-Rex-y sound and started chasing the kids around the living room with my elbows at my waist and my little arms waving around uselessly.  The kids dissolved into giggles and then started chasing each other around the living room doing their own T-Rex impressions.

And then I had to get them into bed. They went (very loudly) and jumped, still giggling, into their beds.  Then (I probably shouldn't mention this) Ken stuck his elbows to his waist, came up behind me and grabbed my rear.  I squealed and then ran after the kids into their room and jumped into the boys' bed while Ken came running after me.

So now I think I have convinced Henry to be bipedal (for a while), but I didn't solve the loud, annoying way he gets around the house. I just replaced it with a louder and more annoying way. Incidentally, that's how he got from the van in to church on Sunday morning.

Such is parenting, though, right?

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