A few months ago my son asserted, quite strongly, that he wished to “pout the skeleton dinosaur”. As one might expect I had no idea what this meant. I asked if he wanted to go to a museum? Perhaps he wanted a model dinosaur to put together or a new toy dinosaur? The answer to each of my queries was an increasingly frustrated “No, pout the skeleton dinosaur!”
I’ll leave it at that for now. Let me know if you figure it out before I reveal the answer in the final paragraph, but for now I’ll move on to some things my daughters have said.
My oldest is nearly nine and is fairly eloquent in her pronunciations. This was not the case when I asked her about her favorite animal when she was three. Her answer was “I really like the slocks.” Looking back it shouldn’t have been that difficult for me to determine what this was. It is fairly similar phonetically to the actual word. We played the question and answer game for many minutes and I had exhausted nearly every line of inquiry I could think to devise without the emergence of any clarity. I nearly gave up but it was driving me crazy. Slocks? I had no clue. I knew it lived in the jungle. I knew it had, according to her, two legs and two arms. I knew it lived in trees. I was beginning to consider some sort of cryptid. A sasquatch variant I hadn’t heard of before or something. I still don’t know why, perhaps my subconscious had already worked it out, but I asked how many toes it had.
“Three, daddy. Three toes. I like the three toed slocks.”
“Oh, a sloth!” I was so relieved to have worked it out that I felt an unexpected relation as my brain began to relax.
“Yes, a three toed slocks is my favorite animal.”
My middle child, now seven, hasn’t been so hard to decipher, really, she just has unique ways of putting things. Until recently a trip to the bathroom was preceded by “Oh, I need ta ha’ ta go potty.” Stocking is stonking. Actually is actualty. I’ve daydreamed of hearing her say “Actualty, I need ta ha’ ta go potty before I hang my Christmas stonking.” But no such luck. She’s outgrown everything but the actualty.
A few years ago, though, she horrified me by running into the kitchen screaming “Can you help me? It’s killed!”
Obviously, I made haste to accompany her to the scene of the crime. She stood in her bedroom doorway and pointed across the room. “Can you fix it? It’s killed.”
“What’s killed? I probably can’t fix it if it’s killed.” I was calming down a little, having expected some horrific scene and finding nothing really but a few toys on the floor. No blood, thankfully. No dead mouse. A much less dramatic scene than her hysteria had indicated.
My daughter, very carefully, crept into her bedroom, crossed to the corner and gingerly scooped something up. She tiptoed back to me and dumped into my outstretched hands a headless doll and a doll head. “It’s killed, daddy. Can you please fix it? It’s gots killed.”
I fixed the doll but I still have no idea how she had a concept of removal of head equaling death or killing in general.
One last example before I reveal pout the skeleton dinosaur. Once when the kids’ great grandparents came to visit they began asking my oldest about a cowboy doll she had. She was probably almost five at the time. They would point to various components of the doll’s mode of dress and ask what they were. She knew hat and boots and belt. She didn’t know holster. But, somehow, she did know what a holster was. The doll didn’t have a gun, just an empty holster. My daughter named it “shoot pocket”. We had a good laugh and I worried myself sick wondering how my nearly five year old already knew what guns do and how they’re carried. As far as I knew, she hadn’t ever even seen a gun on t.v. or otherwise.
And now, the big reveal. Not long after my son wanted to “pout the skeleton dinosaur” we watched Jurassic World. I wasn’t paying too much attention to the movie and my son suddenly screamed “That’s pout the skeleton dinosaur!” He waggled his finger at the screen which showed some kids brushing dust from dinosaur bones in a simulated dig site. How or why he came to call that pout the skeleton dinosaur I’ll never know. I just devised theories and bought him one of those little kits where you can dig a plastic skeleton out of soft rock with a plastic scalpel.
I bid you adieu…and a don’t.
Adieu…ask your kids any questions you can think of. Their answers might be surprising and fun to decipher.
A don’t…correct their pronunciation too soon. Some people will disagree with this but think of how many words we have that can be pronounced in multiple ways and still understood. This can only happen because it was allowed to. Perhaps your child is some syntax pioneer and it’s very cute while it lasts.
If you like my blog, feel free to visit my facebook page, @williamennisauthor. Likes, follows and of course book purchases are encouraged and greatly appreciated.