Wednesday, September 21, 2005


Have to share a dad thought (or more).

Ben loves to say new words, and often will repeat one until someone else says it in recognition. He always has had a bit of trouble with the word "placemat." We have a few that only Ben uses, because they do not soak up spills like our more decorative placemats. That's a great feature when you consider that toddlers often do not keep food within the boundaries of a dinner plate.

The word has gone through an evolution of sorts, but Ben's latest and most confidently pronounced version of the word is, as you might have guessed by the title of this post, "spacebat." It isn't muddled at all. Sitting atop his booster seat eagerly awaiting whatever we've managed to concoct for him, Ben repeats "spacebat" as clearly and crisply as a finely tuned radio announcer. More often than not, he keeps saying it even after he gets it. It's very hard for my wife and me to keep a straight face, so we are constantly turning our backs to laugh.

It's tempting to repeat back "spacebat," just as many parents repeat back mispronounced words that sound funny. It's better than just any mispronunciation, because in addition to being terrifically cute, it actually forms a real word -- well, real in a science fiction sense. Being a science fiction fan myself (as is my wife to some extent), I will hate to see "spacebat" go.

Trying our best to encourage proper speech, we just repeat it back, "Yes, placemat, that's right. You like to use your placemat," or some similar phrase that in most contexts crosses the line into corny.

Another one, which he comes by honestly, is his slight mangling of the word "magazine." Whenever he sees one of us reading any type of thin, floppy publication with color print, he proudly identifies it as a "mazagine." It has meaning for me, because I said it as a child. Again, we repeat it properly and know that the sad day will come when we'll never again read a "mazagine."

There are many times that Ben says something, and we can tell he really means it, because he will repeat back the same sound after it's clear to him we have no idea what he just said. Once we realize what we think it might be, and repeat it back in English, he gets an excited look in his eyes, nods, and says, "Yes." If we're wrong, he repeats himself until we get it right, or until it's clear that the situation is hopeless and that there are more important things to accomplish.

Things like throwing his milk cup.


Jim said...

Come on, Mark! In the larger scheme of things, what's really wrong with calling a placemat, "spacebat"?

This reminds me of an old Steve Martin stand up routine that I had recorded on 8-track tape (do you remember those!!!)

He talks about a great practical joke to play on your kids: whenever you are around them, talk wrong! I listened to that tape so much that I remember it verbatim... he then imagines your kid going to school and going up to the teacher (to ask to go to the bathroom):

"May I momma dogface to the banana patch?"

(Ok, I guess you kind of have to visualize Steve Martin doing it!)

Jim said...

"Teacher ... I spilt some milk on my spacebat!"