An introduction by Emily Litella:
What's all this about the Super Nino Effect? Giant thunderstorms squashing us like little bitty, teeny weenie, tiny little bugs! Hurricanes washing away the shoreline and devouring boardwalks like cotton candy! They say the Super Nino Effect is caused by global swarming, like that man who was killed by thousands of bees. Thousands of angry bees, hiding in an attic, buzzing and stinging, and causing tornadoes! I mean, are the bees angry that we're eating their honey? Well, I am going to stop putting honey in my tea, I can tell you! ...
Hmm? It's not the Super Nino Effect? It's the Cupertino Effect?
Talking to a 4-year-old often feels like speaking to an alien being. With his giant eyes and short legs, my son reminds me of a curious extraterrestrial, eager to explore our world but finding our ways foreign. This would explain why my instruction to eat his strawberry smoothie before the piano teacher arrives is interpreted by him as "take off your pants and jump on the couch." It would also explain his confused, wounded face when I assure him that it is not appropriate to greet guests half-naked.
If he spoke an alien language, it would also explain why "We need to leave in five minutes" sounds like "Wipe your hands on my only clean pants." Or why "Sit quietly and listen" sounds like "Bounce up and down on your toes while singing 'Old McDonald'."
It's as if the words I say go through an alien filter, converting them into odd phrases I neither intend nor recognize. Perhaps he is consulting a faulty phrasebook, which could also be why sometimes I have trouble understanding him, too. "Use your words" is probably the wrong command for a little alien. This could be why he stuffs his fingers into his mouth, instead, and gurgles indistinctly. I should have told him to "Use English words."
Sometimes I forget how he arrived here, in his capsule filled with liquid, expelled rudely into a world of noise and chill. He has learned many lessons since then, but when he declares himself a "hamster baby" and curls close to me, I remember. He may seem just like us taller, older folk, but at heart he is an aquanaut, adrift on land, trying to translate our squawks into his gurgling native language.