Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Did I surprise you with that title? I didn't even know I could write a title in Cyrillic. The miracles of cut and paste. That word, ostranenie, is from my old grad student in Russian literature days. It means making strange, or, as the idea is called in English, defamiliarization. It's the artistic technique of making familiar things strange so that the audience can really see them again.

One of the most delicious things about having kids is how they make the old familiar world strange again. I especially enjoy how they make me see English with fresh eyes.

Mike and I were playing Dinosaur bingo with Greta a few nights ago. She was in her glory because Ev and Clem were off at a birthday party and she had both of us to herself. She got 5 in a row and she shouted out, gleefully, "DINGO! I got DINGO!"

So close, and yet, so far. Too many David Attenborough videos for that kid, I guess. We've been eating up Life of Mammals. Greta is, for some reason, particularly taken with the 8 foot long blue whale penis in the Back to the Sea episode. She tells everyone we meet about it.

Last Monday a friend and I took three little girls to the Little Farm at Tilden Park. Greta saw the cow and shouted, "Look, that cow is a female! You can tell she's a female because she's got gutters!" I guess udder is a strange word, and it makes sense that gutters would channel the milk.

Evelyn trying to make strange tracks that would confound trackers.

Back when Ev was five and Clem was three Mike told them when they were getting out of the car that it was a good idea to roll the windows up, so cats wouldn't jump into the car.

A few days later we were traveling on a 4-lane road at 40mph or so. I noticed a bug in the car and rolled down the windows to let it out. The girls started screaming, "Roll up the windows! Roll up the windows! A cat might jump in!"

I laugh every time I contemplate a world where cats come flying in your car window at 40 mph. Not that it wouldn't be dangerous. It is so sad that I forget so many of the wacky things they say. I really need to keep a notebook in my purse.

Dingo! Why didn't I think of that before?


The Stone Age Techie said...

So true! We went out for dinner last night, a rare treat, and Owen kept calling his Sprite a "Sprout."
And, in our house we still call mustard "shmenky" because that is what Luke called it, back when he was a toddler.

It is really cool to see how different their thought processes are from our own.

Thanks for this post -

Barbara said...

Love it. One of my favorite things about spending so much time with the girls is getting to see the world through their eyes (not to mention in their words!).

Kristin said...

But you do keep track. I've noticed that you do--and you even have their exact comments noted. That is one of the wonders for me of of your blog.

AM said...

It took me a while, but I'm guessing that "D-I-N-G-O" are not the letters G played? I get it now.

sarah in the woods said...

I was just thinking the same thing about writing down what my kids say. I don't do it, but one day I'll wish I had. The cat story is really funny.

Susan said...

Karen, Shmenky! I love it.

Barbara, I miss getting glimpses into your girls' worlds!

Kristin, you are right, I do write down a what they say pretty often, but it is here and there on scraps of paper that I lose. I have tried to carry notebooks before, actually, but I lose them.

Ashish, it was pictures of dinosaurs on the bingo card, she just got confused and thought the word was dingo instead of bingo. Dingo, after all, was something she had heard of before.

Barbara Maclay said...

Susan, I finally posted an entry in my blog again yesterday. Hoping to get back in the groove again, in part to record some of these kinds of things that I know I'll forget later.

Barbara Maclay said...

p.s. I finally put that bumper sticker in an envelope and it's now in the outgoing mail pile. Hopefully you'll see it soon!

Stefaneener said...

We collect some of these, and shrug our "shurdles" when we forget. I realized the other night that there are STILL antics going on in the house that I need to write down. Somehow I thought they'd slow down. Not yet.