Mac is talking more, really starting to abstract.
‘I want another one.’
‘I want to do it again.’
Here he’s using substitutive pronouns, that of course can stand for any number of things. This also tends to get him what he wants since I stand a bit agog that Mac’s language skillz seems to have jumped up another level in the past week.
And But lately, he will take mom by the hand and lead her to the kitchen and point to the refrigerator and say,
‘I want something different.’
What Mac here is doing is transformational processing. He knows he doesn’t know the words for what he wants, but knows ‘something different’ means that Jenn or me will present him with a list of food options that he then picks as he pleases. Of course this is ripe for spoiling the kid, but in the interest of observing how transformational-generative grammar rules work, I’m OK with this.
He is showing this higher order thinking that probably doesn’t seem interesting at first glance, unless you take your time to see what is actually going on. Kind of like those lazy Sunday afternoons when I would be stretched out on a couch, flipping channels and be intermittently napping but then at some point I’d left the PBS channel on and without actually being aware of it had become engrossed by a three hour documentary on the mating habits and rituals of Egyptian dung beetles. I’d sit there completely removed from myself, realizing how big the world is and how much I don’t know and but so like in their little heads, realizing how much is actually, really going on in there and how little access any of us really have to these little kids’ heads.
Whereas Mac favors the syntactic approach, Scarlett tends to solve problems via brute-force search algorithms which is the same way mountains succumb to oceans, being worn down to nubbins and eventually disappearing altogether which is what Jenn appears to be—nubbined and worn away—when I get back from a day of work and she has spent the kid’s every waking-moment-sans-nap-time with them without a break.
The problem with brute-force attacks is they have no built-in termination event other than solving the problem which can be frustrating when their isn’t actually a solution, e.g. Scarlett trying to wedge her head in between sliding doors to force them open. I have watched her attempt to crack unsolvable problems, trying out various solutions/conditions for five to ten minutes1 during which her reactions will range from eardrum perforating shrieks to tears that rank with the best of the Feed-the-Children ads featuring Sally Struthers. But before any real psychic trauma can be done, she will suddenly stop and lie flat on her stomach, her arms and legs splayed to the four corners of the room, her left cheek resting on the floor, her eyes blank and Zenned out.
Scarlett’s other logic tic is that if Mac is doing something, then Scarlett must be doing that same thing; this doesn’t apply to napping though. If Mac is tossed through the air onto the bed, Scarlett will toddle over with both arms held up above her head and insist—insist—that you toss her too onto the bed even though it would generate some DSS reports, if witnessed.
- which I suppose must feel like hours to a one year old [↩]