The Practical Alphabet

Habti is still fascinated by driving. He's figured out the 'P,' the 'D,' and the 'R' that are next to the big stick, but today when we were coming home from the park he noticed that I never use the 'N.' "Uhh... N is for neutral. Not forward, not back," I stammered. "Stop?" he asked. "No... um... If you need to push the car, then N." Fortunately that clicked. "I understand," he said, "Daddy home N, Habtamu push." I wasn't going to argue, I'm for anything that productively uses his energy. So we got home and a stopped the car at the far end of the driveway. He jumped out, poked his head back in to make sure I had left it in neutral, and pushed the car the full length of the house all the way to the garage. He couldn't have been more proud of himself. When we got in the house I stopped him from blurting out his accomplishment and convinced him to draw a picture of the feat for Mommy instead. So now we have this great picture of a little person behind a car with the caption "HABTAMU PUSH MOMMY CAR." I helped him with 'push.' Oh, and 'car' would have been 'cat' (and far more amusing) if I hadn't intervened. So the next time you see an African boy pushing a white male in a Saturn, just wave. He's doing his part to save gas.

Not a Tiger.

So later in the evening, we were going through this Cat-themed Alphabet book and no sooner had I said "J is for Jaguar," Yordanos excitedly pointed to the page and said, "TIGER!" I admit it... I rolled my eyes. "J is for JAAAGUAAAAR" I said trying to be deliberate, not sarcastic. "Tiger?" she said, again pointing to the picture. "Jaguar. No stripes. No tiger honey," I sighed. "Tiger?" she said smiling, sensing my frustration. "K is for KITTEN," I said. And all was fine until we got to S is for Stretch which had a very distinct large cat silhouetted behind the text. "Tiger!" she pointed proudly. "Gah! Cheetah! CHEEETAAAH! It doesn't even have stripes! No Tiger!" I said and I could feel my eye twitch. "No Tiger?" She said as if I'm just making this stuff up. Then she started thumbing through the book for the J page again and I knew where this conversation was going. "When the book is finished, I'll show you a tiger," I said and pointed at the computer. That's when I completely lost the attention of both children.

So just to make a lesson out of it, I fired up old google images, typed in L-I-O-N, and then asked them what animal it was. "TIGER!" Yordi shouted, but Habti was more hesitant. "Lion?" he said sheepishly, as if he hasn't watched Lion King 8 flippin times last week. So we talked about the mane, and the color, and how lions don't have spots or stripes. Then we went to nationalgeographic.com, dialed up some tiger pictures, and talked about them the same way. We looked at bobcats and mountain lions then we ended the evening watching cheetah videos on youtube and quizzing on the other animal pictures. I was satisfied, but Chris thought that maybe images of big cats mauling gazelle wasn't the best bedtime material. Pfft... whatever.

But seriously, do you ever remember not knowing the difference between lions and tigers? It was really hard to show my children lion pictures without being condescending. I felt like I was showing corn to farmers.


Sarah said...

We have the same big cat conversation at my house a couple times a month. :-)

Amy C said...

We adopted our youngest from Russia when she was 9 months old. When she was about 18 months it happened to snow here (in Texas). My first two children were so excited to run and play outside, but Kat just cried and refused to leave the house. I told my husband, "see, I knew she was suppose to be in our family!" The girl would never make it in Russia.