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No Lack of Poetry

Not in this house, anyway. Simon’s budding vocabulary is increasingly lyrical, filled as it is with metonymy* and metaphor.

Consider, for example, the ball. Simon learned the word in association with the balls we play with in the house and outside. Soon after, he recognized balls in picture books, and learned to point and say “ball” whenever he saw one on the page. It wasn’t long after this that “ball” became the term for anything that reminded him of balls, specifically anything round or cylindrical. Thus, a ball is now a polka dot, the moon, the cylinder in a shape sorter, or even a puppy’s nose. When Simon reads to himself, he says “ball” an awful lot.

Not, however, as much as he says “light”. In Simon’s world, a “light” could be a table lamp, a floor lamp, a ceiling fan light kit, a spot-light, a flush-mouted ceiling light, a wall sconce, or any other artificial light you can name. He also calls ceiling fans lights, probably because many of them have light kits attached. And now, the sun, moon (when it’s not a ball) and stars in books are also lights, which I suppose is not entirely incorrect.

His calling numbers lights may be taking this poetry a bit too far. How did a number become a light? It’s not as crazy as it sounds. From the first time Simon read Do Princesses Count? (our desperation book purchase at San Francisco’s airport last month), he was mesmerized by the oversized glittery numbers that appear on each page. Since these numbers sparkled and shone, he pointed to them and said “light” on each page. All this attention to glittery numbers made him take notice of the numbers that appear in other books, and the association carried over. As a result, I can count on Simon to see a number on a page, point to it enthusiastically, and yell “light!”

I’d try harder to correct him were it not so funny and cute. I promise to fix before kindergarten.

Other examples abound. On any given day, all dogs are “cats” or cats are “dogs”. “Throw” is usually a verb, but can stand in for a noun at times if he spots a favored projectile.

Amidst all this poetry, Simon remains steadfastly literal and specific in his use of one word: Mama. Three times now Matt has asked Simon to point to “the mama” in a picture book. And three times Simon has ignored the mama in the book and instead pointed to me or to the room I was currently in. Once, when he was in the living room and I was upstairs, he pointed straight up. Right now Simon is in a major daddy phase, making his stinginess with the word “mama” all the sweeter.

*metonymy: the extension of one word to others with which it has become closely associated.

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