Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Failure to Communicate

I've recently become aware of a number of things that seem to have gotten lost in translation between us and our daughter Eva. I'm not sure if this is something related to her age, or just something she's especially talented at...

I noticed the first one a few weeks ago, when we were reading one of our favorite children's books. It's called No No Yes Yes, and is basically a cartoon baby that, on the left side of the page, does something that is a "no no" thing. On each corresponding right side of the page, the baby is doing the more appropriate "yes, yes" version of whatever behavior is being addressed. So, for instance, on the "no no" page the baby might be dumping his food on his head, while on the "yes yes" page the baby is happily eating his food with a spoon.

This book was very effective with Daniel; so much so that we would only have to say "What does No No Yes Yes say about picking your nose?" and he'd be off to get a tissue. Leslie Patricelli, you are a brilliant author and you deserve every penny you make off this book that contains only two words. I wish I'd have thought of it first.

The thing is, Eva does not seem as taken with the book, and it doesn't seem to have the same kind of sway with her behaviors. The other night, we were reading it, and I was, as usual, pointing to a picture and saying, "What is the baby doing here? Oh no, no! He's eating the dog's food!..." A few pages in, I noticed that Eva was saying things like "No No putting toys in potty. Here, No No going pee on potty. No no running from Daddy. Here, No No holding Daddy's hand." So it seems that Eva is under the impression that the baby's name is No No, and that he just does all kinds of random behaviors. No wonder this book is not effective as a to do/not to do guide to childhood.

Tonight, now, we were reading her Jesus Loves Me book, wherein some well-intentioned sadist crafted 10 or so extra verses of the song with some corresponding cartoon children depicting the lyrics. I have nothing against the song Jesus Loves Me per se, but after sing-songing the tune a dozen times in a row it really starts to lose its charm. About verse 6 or so, the children are outside playing ("Jesus loves me as I play, Outside inside every day...") and one kid has fallen and lost a shoe in the process. Both of our kids have always pointed this out during every reading, but tonight Eva informed me that "Look, Mommy! Jesus lost shoe!" As we went on, she commented that "Jesus has blue pajamas!" and "Jesus has big-boy bed!"

And so, it seems that Eva has identified the illustration character with the slingshot in his pocket as Jesus, and sees this very long song as a kind of "day in the life" portrait. You know, he's just hanging out, doing the usual Jesus stuff like going to preschool, playing legos, raking leaves in the yard, taking a bubble bath...

It kind of makes me wonder what her interpretation is of the rest of the things we tell her in a day.

1 comment:

  1. How cute and smart! Your daughter is learning to make connections between symbols. She is learning to connect the spoken word with the visual. Her frame of reference is what she knows, and she knows that the people in her life have names. She knows that when mommy talks to her, she probably says "Eva, what a good girl." "Eva, don't do that."
    I would be interested to see what would happen if you gave the baby in "No no yes yes" and the children in "Jesus Loves Me" names while you read the story i.e. "Little Timmy is doing a no-no" or "Jesus loves Alice while she plays."
    Not that I condone experimenting on your own child, but then you might see where this is coming from.