Monday, September 15, 2008

Talk Like...

I do imitations. Probably started when I was a kid and used to like watching Rich Little do Richard Nixon among other imitations. I've used this to my advantage to entertain/distract Elizabeth, break down her stubbornness, and gently guide her to do what I want her to do. Well, that's what I *used* to be able to do.

Now, in the words of Susan, Daddy has become Sweetpea's little "trained monkey."

It probably started when she was about 18 months old or maybe even younger. (What's that about the days are long but the years are short?) She would hand me her stuffed panda and say with excited anticipation "Talk-a-panda!" And Panda would talk to Sweetpea (with a Chinese accent since they are native to China after all) and Sweetpea would talk to Panda. Then it was "Talk-a-Ernie" and "Talk-a-Bert. And "Talk-a-Big Bird". And "Talk-a" random teddy bears. And "Talk-a" plastic fish.

I began to wonder if my little girl ever wanted to hear Daddy's normal voice again or if I was destined to a life of falsettos, baritones, and varied accents in communicating with my daughter.

But the piece d'resistance had to be the anthropomorphism of the Cutie-jamas.

Shortly after turning 2 and outgrowing her 18 mo pajamas, Susan bought two cute pair of pajamas. Said pajamas are displayed below.

In case they are difficult to read, the pair on the left say "Cutie" and the ones on the right say "Pretty." I really liked these pajamas and when it was cool enough, I tried to get E to wear them. She didn't exactly share Daddy's enthusiasm for the pajamas, rejecting the Cutie pair in particular. After a few weeks of this, I figured that if I could not properly present the case for her to wear the pajamas, maybe they could do it themselves.

And so were born Cutie-jamas and Pretty-jamas.

I gave Cutie-jamas somewhat of a little boy's voice and Pretty-jamas a sweet girl, if for no other reason than the Pretty-jamas are pink.

I think the first exchange went something like this:

Daddy: OK, Sweetpea, time to put on the pajamas.
Sweetpea: No! I don't want to wear those!
Daddy: Oh, come on, Elizabeth. They're so cute!
Sweetpea: No! Ahhhhhh!
Daddy: Oh, poor Cutie-jamas. They're sad.
Sweetpea: [silence, with an excited look]
Daddy: Poor poor Cutie-jamas. They just want to be worn. Will you wear them tonight?
Sweetpea: [softly] No.
Daddy: [pauses, looks at the pajamas, holds the shirt up in front of Elizabeth]
Cutie-jamas: Hi, Sweetpea. I'm Cutie-jamas. Will you wear me tonight?
Sweetpea: [with a look of delight and fascination that has since not been duplicated] Hi, Cutie-jamas!
Cutie-jamas: Oh, please, Sweetpea. Will you wear me tonight? It would make me so happy.
Sweetpea: [smiling] No.
Cutie-jamas: Oh, boo-hoo. I'm so sad. Sweetpea won't wear me tonight. [slight sobbing] Well, I guess I'll go back in the drawer. Will you wear me?
Sweetpea: Ok.
Cutie-jamas: Oh, yay! That makes me so happy! Sweetpea is going to wear me tonight!
Sweetpea: [shouting] I'm going to wear you tonight Cutie-jamas!

[Daddy hurriedly dresses Sweetpea in the pajamas and ends the dialogue]

Subsequent occasions yielded differing dialogues, but the basic principle was that, if Sweetpea didn't wear the Cutie-jamas, the Cutie-jamas got sad. And this delighted E - I guess it was her way of wielding some sort of power. Usually, she would give in before I put the pajamas away. Other nights she just wanted to make Cutie-jamas sad and wore something else. Either way it added a little fun to the bedtime routine.

Pretty-jamas came in to give Cutie-jamas a rival. E picked up on it right away and would play one off the other - at first usually picking Pretty over Cutie, but, more recently, jumping right to Cutie. It's gotten so that when I ask her the question "What pajamas would you like to wear tonight?", E would jump up and down and shout "Cutie-jamas!" If Cutie was dirty, she'd yell "Pretty-jamas!" She no longer seems interested in making them sad. Now she just seems to like them.

Some other examples of the Cutie-/Pretty-jamas saga:

- Early on, I thought Cutie-jamas should exercise some influence by saying "You will wear me tonight!" and tossing the shirt on E's head. This caused some serious shrieking and a look of horror from E. Needless to say, the Cutie-jamas have not gone on the attack since.

- I'd pull the pajamas out of the drawer and wouldn't start talking like them right away, to which Sweetpea would shout "Talk like Cutie-jamas!". And so it would start. "What are you doing, Cutie-jamas?" "No, I won't wear you Cutie-jamas" with a devilish little grin.

- E made the connection between Cutie and Pretty by saying that they were "twins" and then were "friends."

I have no idea what will happen when she finally outgrows these pajamas. Haven't really thought that far ahead. Pretty-jamas had a little accident the other week when we allowed E to "help" stain a wood stair railing while wearing said jamas. Now they're a little spotted.

The other area where E expects Daddy to perform is to do various Muppet voices. I specialize in Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzy Bear (not so good), Rowlf, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, and, of course, Beaker. She usually expects me to roll from one right into the other. After several weeks of this (we first saw the Muppet Movie back in July), my vocal chords are taking quite a beating.

"Talk like Kermit the Frog!"
"Hi Ho! Well, hello there, Sweetpea."
"Hi Kermit the Frog!" "Talk like Miss Piggy!" "Talk like Fozzie Bear!" "Talk like Rowlf!" "Talk like Dr. Bunsen Honeydew!" "Talk like Beaker!"

The requests usually come around bath time. So far it's an effective distraction. All I can say is that I have *tremendous* respect for Jim Henson and Frank Oz.

I charge $20/hr and am available for all kids' parties.

- Rich


V said...

That's hilarious, Rich. You should definitely rent yourself out for much more than $20/hour! I bet you could make $100, easy!

It would be a great second career.

Thrift Store Mama said...

Um, what's that you said? You're available for children's parties? I believe that you may be in attendance at a children's party this weekend if your wife would reply to the evite already? I suggest that you bring a couple stuffed animals and display this no longer hidden talent!!!

Thrift Store Mama said...

I can't believe I sat next to you at the party and forgot to make you do imitations!