I had never been away from Bumby overnight before, until a few weeks ago. My grandfather, who is (was – I keep forgetting to say was) extremely old, had fallen particularly ill and was not expected to live more than a day or so. I rushed home to Michigan without a thought. Alone.
While I was there, my grandfather rebounded a bit, and we put him on home hospice care. Three nights, one panic attack and a good deal of ordering around the senior generation of my family later, I flew home. My wife had a work dinner the following night, so I headed up to put Bumby to bed on my own.
“I want stomp stomp stomp.”
WHAT? “Is that a book?”
“Yes. Stomp stomp stomp!”
Hm. I wonder what the fuck we’re talking about. “What book is stomp stomp stomp, sweetie? Is it a big book or a small book?”
<looks at me like I’m an idiot> “It’s STOMP STOMP STOMP. It goes STOMP STOMP STOMP. STOMP STOMP STOMP.”
Oh god, 3 nights away and I don’t even know his favorite book anymore. “Does it have dinosaurs in it?”
“Mmmm. Not REALLY. It has STOMP STOMP STOMP. And hairplane.” (Yes, this is how he pronounces it.)
Okay, now we’re getting somewhere. It has an airplane. “Does it have other machines? Is it the big book with all the cars and planes?”
“NO. IT’S STOMP STOMP STOMP.”
Etc. I finally learned that Stomp Stomp Stomp is this book:
Not because I figured it out, but because he found it on his shelf. Apparently, when my wife reads it, she yells “STAMP STAMP STAMP” at one point when postman number 2 is stamping the letters. Even though this does not appear anywhere in the book. There are some farm animals at the back of the book (so it’s not really about animals, but it has some in it) and an airplane transports the mail. Sheesh. It also apparently has a mama and a mommy, even though I tried to tell Bumby that the pictures he thought were the boy’s mama and mommy were actually two other children. Oh well.
So, a child who can speak is a double edged sword. On the one hand, they can explain things to you and (theoretically, at least) follow simple instructions. On the other hand, sometimes they make no sense. To us, anyway.