I have two amazing grandkids, Chloe, age 4 and Didi (Chinese for little brother,) age 2. They live with their parents in Shanghai where my son and his wife teach. My son has captured some memorable conversations with his kids and has allowed me to share them here with you.
We’re in North America now
Dave, Desiree and the kids arrived on North American soil for their summer break.
Des buckles the kids into their car seats (new and strange items to them), gets into the front, starts the engine, and pulls out to drive them over to their Aunties’ house.
Chloe: Mommy! Mommy, you can *DRIVE*?!!??
This is what happens when you live in China.
How rainy is it?
I’m carrying DiDi in from the car in the pouring rain.
DiDi: It’s so raining. It’s so rainy-raining.
Me: How rainy is it?
DiDi: Um … forty-nine. It’s so forty-nine raining.
Of furritos and other mammals
Chloe and I are playing her favorite game: she’s the mom and I’m the kid. She’s such a little power tripper.
Me: Mom, will you read me this book? [handing her “The Encyclopedia of Mammals: A Complete Visual Guide”]
Her: OK, son. [she opens it to the middle of ‘Mustelidae’; we are confronted with dozens of pictures of weasels, stoats, ferrets, and ermines]. Ahem. [with great confidence, jabbing her finger at various carnivores] This is all about squirrels. This is a big squirrel. And this is a cat. And this is a tailcat. And this [pointing at a charging wolverine] is a triangle. A furry snowy triangle. This one is [enunciating dramatically] a chumbaloofazingo. And this one [with a heavy Mexican accent] is a furrito.
Me: [choking back laughter]
Chloe: OK, enough of that. [she flips ahead, landing on a page with a photo of a hippopotamus feeding at the bottom of a river]. Ah. This is a moose. A kind of moose. We call it a walk-under-the-water moose.
She’ll probably be a zoologist, folks. Who else would be familiar with the walk-under-the-water moose and the elusive furrito?
Milk plus a mushy thing
We’ve just returned from the state fair. Chloe is having a yogurt snack, and the rest of us are discussing property rights laws. Suddenly, when Desiree is in mid-sentence, Chloe bursts out shouting, “Hey! Hey!” We all stop and look.
“Hey, you guys,” Chloe says. “Did you know that cows make milk? And the cow’s owner takes the milk and … um … adds a … like a mushy thing, and that makes YOGURT!”
We all chuckle. Chloe grins. Desiree says, “A little mushy thing, huh? Where did you learn that, little girl?”
Chloe looks uncertain. “Um … I learned it from … a … a cow told me.”
“A cow? Really?”
“Yes. A cow.”
What has eight legs and…
Desiree is reading Chloe a children’s book of riddles.
Des: What has eight legs and —
Chloe: A HORSE! [note: there is a picture of some horses on the page]
Des: No, horses don’t have eight legs. How many legs do horses have, baby?
Chloe: Um, one … two … uh … uh … SO MANY LEGS!
Des: Look, they have four. One, two, three, four. TWO horses have eight.
Des: So what has eight legs and long hair and runs very fast?
Chloe: A HORSE!
Chloe’s taking a shower. A common topic for her during these times is why her hair is darker when it’s wet — something she doesn’t get but fascinates her. Yesterday …
Chloe: Why is my hair getting blacker, Mommy?
Des: Because it’s wet, baby.
Chloe: I want to look at my hair getting black.
[holds her hair out in front of her eyes for a moment]
Chloe: [sudden gasp of dawning realization] Mommy! Mommy! *I* know why my hair is getting blacker! It’s because I’m getting better at learning Chinese! *That’s* why my hair is blacker now!
Now we work on “correlation does not imply causation.”