Sunday, August 1, 2010

Everything about Everything

My two-year-old, Brooke, has entered the phase of wanting to know everything about everything, which results in a great deal of pointing and asking "What's that?"

This is especially noticeable when confined to small, inescapable spaces, like when I made a recent trip by myself with her and Kerrington. Between my house and our destination, she asked What's that? twice every quarter mile, for a grand total of 1,198 What's that's? over a three-and-a-half hour time span.

In terms of annoyance on the Annoying Things While Traveling with Children scale, with 10 being a child kicking the back of your seat from Pennsylvania to Illinois, 7 being a child squeezing the fruit juice drink box that you repeatedly warned her against squeezing before passing it back to her and still having her squeeze it, spray herself, and cry about her soaked, sticky shirt, and 5 being your five-year-old yelling "duck!" every time you drive under an overpass, Brooke's repetitive, rapid fire What's that? reached a 6.5. It would have been higher if she weren't so darn cute.

Besides, it's hard to answer this question accurately while driving since you can't always discern where your child is pointing. When I think she's looking at the billboard, she just might be pointing toward the van's cup holder. It's possible that she'll forever think that a telephone pole is actually called a silo based on our weekend travels.

Brooke processes the new information and expands her vocabulary by repeating the words back to me, with her little voice rising in inflection on the final syllable so that she's always speaking in question form. She can go hours without uttering a declarative sentence.

Brooke: "What's that? What's that?"  (She likes to speak in duplicates.)
Me: "That's a flagpole."
Brooke: "A flagpole?" (Three second pause.) "What's that?"
Me: "That's a construction vehicle."
Brooke: "A construction vehicle?" (No pause this time.) "What's that?"
Me: "That's roadkill."
Brooke: "Roadkill?"

Reese says that Brooke asks so many questions because she's learning a lot. It's true. And it's true that this phase will be over soon enough and replaced by a new one. How do I know? Because on the trip home Brooke saw an overpass and took after her big sister by yelling "Duck!"

But not before she questioned, "What's that?"

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