The One Hundred-and-Seventh Chart (Spurts)

November 29, 2013

By Ekta R. Garg

Enjoy these Spurts from the last two weeks, readers!

The puns continue.

One night at dinner Seven asked, “Mamma, what’s a trapeze?”

I explained the basics of a trapeze, bringing in a circus as an example.  Five shook her head.

“No, that’s not what a trapeze is.  A trapeze is where you ‘trap’ a person and make them eat ‘peas.’  Get it?  ‘Trap,’ ‘peas’?”

Seven tried to one-up her with some other version, but I have to say Five is really getting the hang of the whole pun thing.

***

On a weekend night I pulled out Crazy Eights, and the kids and I sat down to learn how to play.  Seven pulled out the instruction card and proceeded to skim it.

“You have to shuffle the cards before we start playing,” she said, handing me the deck.

“Shuffle?” Five asked impishly.  “You mean like this?”

She got up, placed herself theatrically in the middle of the floor, and began brushing the floor with the ball of her foot.  It was the shuffle step used in tap dancing.  She kept shuffling and started giggling along with it.

“See, Mamma?  I can shuffle too.”

I had to smile, and even though she’s been doing this more frequently I still find myself amazed that she has grasped the workings of language so quickly as to form puns while using the original words and the pun words correctly.  I wonder where this fascination with language will take her.

***

During our trip to Chicago before Thanksgiving, I got to take the kids to certain sites in my old stomping grounds.  I also got to see some new places that I had never explored during my 15 months in the city while I pursued my master’s at Northwestern.  It was a fun mix of visiting old memories and making new ones.

The family strolled along the Chicago River on the river walk, and Five and I held hands and chatted.  Despite the frigid temperatures, I felt glad I had the opportunity to spend time with the kids this way.

“Can we feed the fish?” Five asked.

I glanced at the clean water and explained that the weather might be too cold for the fish to come to the surface.

“But what about if we had our own fish?” she asked.  “Then we could feed them fish food.”

I’d heard the argument before, in various forms.  She’d been angling for a pet for a while.

“Why can’t we have fish?  They don’t make a mess at all!” she exclaimed, throwing her free hand up in the air to emphasize the point.

I asked her what we would do if we had to go on vacation.  Who would feed the fish, I asked.

She skirted around the logic of leaving a fish at home for days on end without any stable food source, insisting instead that a fish made a good pet.  I had to stymie her efforts; I knew a fish would only be the beginning of things.  Pretty soon it would progress to larger, more boisterous animals, and the girls’ father and I agree on no pets at all.

Again, I wonder what will happen when Five grows up.  Will she keep pets when she moves into her own home?  I can’t help think about the future and how the small choices we make for our kids in these early years will shape the later ones.

***

One day as I drove Seven to dance class, she described one of the latest books she had recently finished in school: Judy Moody Goes to College.  I listened to her chatter on with some of my concentration saved for the road when all of a sudden I heard something that pulled my attention to the back of the car.

“What did you say?” I asked, just to be sure I heard right.

“I said, Judy Moody goes to an art class in college and it’s a naked lady class.”

Uh…what?

She couldn’t fully articulate what that meant, only that she had read something in the book that talked about naked women.  My radar went up immediately, and as I sat outside Seven’s dance class I pulled out my laptop and emailed her teacher right away to ask about the book.  I phrased my email with as much restraint as I could manage, and a day or so later her teacher responded.  She said she would read the book right away and get back to me, and a few hours later I heard from her again.  She found the book online and directed me to the passage.

In all fairness to the book, it mentions the “naked lady” in a fairly tasteful manner.  Judy Moody goes to college, peeks into an art class, realizes a nude model is posing in front of the class, and declares that she’ll never attend or conduct a class like that herself.  Then the story moves on.

I chatted with Seven about it briefly, explaining to her that in order for art students to draw accurately they have to study all sorts of forms—including the human one.  She understood and then had the same reaction Judy Moody did.

Life has a funny way of giving us what we need when we don’t even know we’ve gotten it.  During our Chicago trip, we discovered a museum of stained glass windows at Navy Pier.  I walked with Seven down the long hallway, and she did a double-take when she saw one window depicting several semi-nudes.

I could see the reaction on her face, the sudden discomfort she felt at seeing them, but she also now had some foundation to understand why the artist responsible for that window made it that way.  She still didn’t like it, but it didn’t blow her socks off as it might have before she read the book.

I’m still not sure whether I’m crazy about the fact that she read about nude models in college art classes.  It would have been nice to keep her innocence in a bubble a little while longer.  But considering the stained glass window at Navy Pier, I’m glad Seven had some frame of reference for the window and that she could understand that the human form can also be considered art.

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