Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Translation, please

I tried to learn Mandarin and didn't get very far, but I'm learning to speak fluent Ting Ting. She's learning new words and phrases every day, and many of them she says quite distinctly (my favorite being -- of course -- Mama!).

In addition to "Mama" and "Daddy," she can say hi, bye bye, no, yeah, cat, baby, bubbles, more (ok, that still sounds more like "moe"), shoe, outside, nose, eye, up, home and the names of most of the kids in her day care class. She comes pretty close on a few other things, such as "ah duh" (all done) when she is finished eating (it also is a warning that you have exactly 2.3 seconds to remove the food from her tray before it starts landing on the floor). She can also say "ah gah" (all gone) when she runs out of a food item, although that's usually promptly followed with a request for "moe."

She's starting to say a two-syllable phrase when you do something that should prompt a "thank you." (Come to think of it, what she says sounds a lot like the Mandarin -- "xie xie.")

She has her own names for things, too. Lauren is "Alla" -- I think that's because Lauren always greets her with "Hola!" Brandon is "Baby." At first, I thought she was pronouncing it in a slightly different way in an attempt to say "Brandon," but it's quite clearly the same word she uses for an infant or to refer to her favorite doll. We think she might call him that because we have a portrait in our bedroom of Lauren and Brandon when they were much younger, and we kept pointing to the baby and telling her it was Brandon. So, you see, she is grasping the concept.

Cyrus is "Sigh-zhah," It's really cute the way she says it, too. That's a big improvement from the days when she just called him "Sssssssssss."

One of her first phrases was "Oh no!" She says it often, usually accompanied by putting both hands over her open mouth as if in shock. I'm trying to teach her that "oh no!" is not appropriate for everything, such as when she throws a plastic toy into the toilet.

She loves to sing. Her favorite song is still "Wheels on the Bus," and she will request it by shouting "Bus! Bus!" and furiously moving her hands in a circle. She knows that it's the second song on the Veggie Tales CD we often play on the way to day care, and she starts shouting excitedly near the end of the first song. Often she says "moe" just as it finishes, and I'll play that track again. She requests, "If You're Happy and You Know it, Clap Your Hands" by saying "clap, clap." She asks for a song that begins "Ha-la-la-la-la-la-la-le-lu-jah" by saying "lalalalalalalala" in kind of a gargling tone.

One night we were singing songs and she put her arms up above her head and opened and closed her hands while saying "Ubba Bubba." Finally I figured out that she wanted to sing "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" ("Up above the . . ."). She apparently learned that one at day care. She sings along loudly at the "Ubba Bubba" part. The end of that song is the same as the beginning, so every time I sing the last phrase, she throws her hands up and loudly sings "Ubba Bubba." I'll go through that part and the ending again, sometimes as many as half a dozen times.

In other words, she has her own play list of songs she wants to hear, and Mama is sort of a human iPod.


She watches "Dora the Explorer" in the mornings while I'm getting ready. She loves "Dodda" (Dora) and "Boo" (Boots the monkey) and often ends one episode with a plaintive request for "Moe Boo!" Fortunately, her doting daddy has recorded dozens of episodes in case of just such an emergency.

She puts things together quickly. Sunday afternoon, I asked, "Do you want to go outside?" "OUTSIDE!" she shrieked happily, then added, "shoes." Yes, we had to put those on first.

She says "rrrrrrr" whenever she sees a picture of a tiger or a lion, and she can also makes noises for a snake, duck and monkey. A cow says, "ooooohhhhhh." And for some reason, a sheep says, "Lalalalalalalalalalalalalala."

Cute story alert: The other night after her bath I got out some new footie pajamas, and she got excited when I started putting them on her. "Shoes!" she said, pointing to the feet. Then she examined the design on the chest. "See," I said, "it has a sheep on it." She looked at me with a huge grin and said, "Lalalalalalalalalalalalalala."

Now Lance and I are working on getting her to say, "I love you." That one seems beyond her right now, but whenever I walk in the room and she holds out her arms to me and says, "Mama!" I know exactly what she's saying.

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