The dog says baaa – Friday 27 November 2015

The dog says baaa – Friday 27 November 2015

Readers of this blog may recall that Milo’s first word ‘dada’ meant, at least to his mind, ‘picture frame’ and so was, strictly speaking, wrong.

Unfortunately it would appear that Milo’s second clear utterance ‘baaa’ is also rather imprecise. And once again it is probably our fault.

So far Milo understands more German than he does English. Kuepps, Opa and Oma have been working hard on Milo’s teutophone and one phrase in particular has lodged well “hey Milo, was macht das schaff?” (what does the sheep say?) Milo loves to hear this question. A cheeky smile flashes across his face and with an uncharacteristically demure voice Milo says “baa, baaaaa” Of course Milo is thoroughly rewarded for this response; with laughter, clapping and kisses from anybody in the vicinity. In fact the whole sequence is so enjoyable that Milo is asked numerous times every day. His (and his audience’s) enthusiasm never wains. If you ask with the correct tone the “baa, baaaa” often drowns out the question, such is his delight in giving the answer.

But alas all of this enthusiasm has resulted in Milo convincing himself that every animal says baaa, and in fact anything vaguely related to animals, such as a tractor or a shovel.

Dogs are Milo’s favourite creature that say baaa. On our regular neighbourhood walks we encounter countless baaaing canines. Milo will point frantically at each one and waddle toward them at pace, like an elderly drunk man, repeating “baa, baaa, baaaaa”.

Thus far we have only encountered one owner who seemed slightly offended by my child’s rather odd behaviour. This man was strolling with a something-a-doodle which, to be fair to my son, looked quite a lot like a sheep. He seemed somewhat taken-a-back that Milo had mistaken his woolly dog for a farmyard creature. I tried to explain that no, Milo knows his dog is a dog, all creatures are sheep, or at least all creatures say baa, and so do shovels, and actually Milo doesn’t even really know what a sheep is. The man appeared no more enlightened, and dragged his sheep-like puppy away from my son who was desperately trying to get licked.

The delightful, but potentially confusing, baaing situation has got me thinking about how easy it is to instill bad habits in toddlers and how susceptible Kuepps and I might be to this dilemma. We are not particularly disciplined when it comes to not laughing at objectively hilarious but potentially anti-social behaviours.

Two examples: Milo has made great progress recently at drinking water out of a cup. He can do this perfectly but usually chooses not to. At some point early on in this learning process Milo picked up his cup and poured the water all over his head. Because this is hilarious we both laughed. Milo grinned, laughed back at us, then filed the experience away.

Now most times Milo is offered a cup of water he will pause, ensure a sufficient number of people are observing him, and ceremoniously pour the water over his head. The chill of the water surprises him every time; he flinches briefly and then grins broadly. Unfortunately we continue to laugh at this, because we love it, and it is hilarious. But I suppose at some point in Milo’s future this habit will begin to impede his ability to function effectively in social settings.

Secondly, as part of Milo’s walk training I encouraged him to totter back and forth between me and our staircase, taking small blocks of duplo out of my hand and lobbing them down the stairs. Again, this sequence was rather amusing at the time but has become less so as he has got taller, stronger and far more balanced. Duplo no longer gives him the thrill it once did so more ambitious objects are being lobbed; buckets, soccer balls, the plastic turtle thing whose head pops out when you push in all the different shapes on his back, Milo’s green recycling truck. I fear it is only a matter of time before Elefun is levered up and over the railing. Poor Elefun.

At some point, say before he has the strength and ambition to dispatch my laptop down the stairs, we will have to address this behaviour. But that is future Jupes’ problem; and I am sure by then our ill-discipline will have added many more amusing but questionable tricks to the list.

Oh, also, Milo had his first babycino last weekend. He loved it.


The delusional gene – Friday 13 November 2015

The delusional gene – Friday 13 November 2015

Milo thinks our cats are chasing him. They’re not.

The enjoyment derived from the relationship between Milo and our two cats, Suu Kyi and Huckleberry, is not evenly distributed. Milo thinks the three of them are an inseparable team of pals. Suu Kyi and Huckleberry seem to view Milo like a piece of dry food floating in their water bowl, growing larger by the day. All they need is patience and eventually the floater will be removed, and the water refreshed.

As the cats have climbed ever higher on the furniture, away from him, Milo has required less and less actual interaction to amuse himself. With fewer opportunities to put their paws in his mouth than there used to be Milo has developed other ways to enjoy Huck and Suu Kyi’s company.

The following is a common occurrence in our house at present: Milo will be playing quietly in the general vicinity of the cats, perhaps lobbing duplo down the stairs or bashing his xylophone with the hammer from his ‘Laugh and Learn Smart Stage Toolbox’. All of a sudden one of the cats will wrinkle a whisker in his direction or stretch a limb toward him in a feline way. Milo will spring to his feet, giggling in his lunatic way, and frantically run like a drunken zombie, quasi-upright with the assistance of his walker if it is within arm’s reach, or tumbling to the ground every three or four steps if he is unaided, such is his haste and level of excitement. Milo will not look back to confirm he is being pursued but will continue to laugh hysterically as he wobbles his way into the ‘secret room’ (upstairs bedroom) before plunging headlong on to the spare mattress, burying himself into the pile of cushions.

After a time Milo will slowly get his breathing under control, peel himself up off the mattress and clamber back to the doorway where he peers around to see if it is safe to re-emerge. The cats, of course, have not moved. Suu Kyi is invariably sleeping in precisely the same spot Milo left her, purring gently. Huck is usually licking himself, with disinterested half-closed eyes, also unmoved at the end of the sofa from where Milo fled.

It is hard to know whether Milo genuinely thinks the cats are advancing upon him, or whether he knows the truth but is choosing the fantasy because he just enjoys it so much. I have a sneaking suspicion it is the latter, and I hope it is. If so I believe it is an early onset manifestation of what we call in my family ‘the delusional gene’.

Essentially the ‘delusional gene’ allows one to interpret life as a miraculous series of events designed for your enjoyment, sometimes despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. If applied in the right measure the gene lends itself to a positive disposition, cheerful outlook and can-do attitude. If the gene is available in over-supply it can lead to a delusion that borders on narcissism, or a lack of connection to legitimate day-to-day tribulations. In our family this is known as the ‘smarty pants gene’.

Thus far Milo’s outlook on life appears sparkling, with a healthy dose of spirited, forthright determination. The cat delusion appears to be a good sign. A boy who can take enjoyment from literally nothing must have a bright future indeed.

  Drunken zombie