My nephew (commonly referred to as the Nephew Monster) provides me with no small amount of amusement these days. He's three-and-a-half, so he can carry on a conversation now. It may not all come out exactly right, but he can get his point across if he wants to--leaving everyone in the general vicinity in stitches, no doubt.
At this lovely age, he has developed selective hearing. One day, for example, he was visiting me. He'd left the empty box from his snack of raisins on the floor instead of taking it to the trash can, and I was trying to get his attention to remind him of his responsibility. He was happily entertaining himself in the corner by the window sill, racing cars and making all the appropriate sounds, and was therefore incapable of hearing me calling his name repeatedly. My father was in another room at the time, and he dropped something, muttering a choice expletive beneath his breath. The Nephew Monster immediately turned to me with huge eyes and said, "WHAT Grandpa say?" Needless to say, that earned him quite a chuckle from me.
Another time, we were driving down the road and we passed a city bus. He got all excited. "Look, Aunt Cat! There's a school bus. I sure do love school buses." Every bus is a school bus, you know. Later in that trip, an ambulance passed us with lights spinning and siren wailing. "Woah," he said, with reverence running wild in his tone. "An am-blee-ance school bus." Those might be his favorite of them all, because of the lights and sirens. Or should I say his fravrite? He wants to ride in one someday. Maybe that's why he's always telling us to "Crash and burn!"
The Monster has a very active imagination. He knows that a lot of toys operate because batteries power them. Anytime something stops working, he wants the batteries to be changed--whether the batteries are the source of the problem or not. But he takes it to the next level. He'll be going along, playing at full speed in the way only a toddler can do. Then all of a sudden, he'll slump forward, hanging his head and closing his eyes. He'll peek up at you through his lashes and say in a strained voice, "My batteries are dead." They go in his back, so you then have to use your high-powered battery operated tools (your fingers and tool sounds) to remove the battery cover, put in fresh ones, and replace the cover. Once that's done, he pops back to life, eyes huge and blinking. This can happen multiple times an hour. I suppose the Nephew Monster is a high-drain device. Makes sense, considering how drained I am by the time he goes home.
Perhaps my favorite recent development with him, though, is a story told by my father. They were driving to visit one of my sisters, and a police car had another motorist pulled over at the side of the road. The Nephew Monster said, "Look, Grandpa! A pleece (rhymes with fleece) car. Are they gonna check us?" I guess he's been with his Mommy or Daddy sometime when the pleece have "checked" them. Not sure where else that comes from. Just a few days ago, he added to this particular scenario. We were shopping at the local Kroger, where they have shopping carts with cars on the front for the kids to "drive." He was driving his car and telling everyone we passed that he was a pleeceman and was going to check them and cost them lots of money and tickets. Mmm hmm. Daddy still claims to know nothing about why the Monster knows about the pleecemen checking people and costing lots of money and tickets.
These things that kids say are things you just can't make up, no matter how hard you try. They have a way of looking at the world that adults have long since forgotten. I don't know about you, but I try to find ways to bring some of that into my writing, by looking at things from a different angle than I usually would.
Have you ever tried to look at the world through someone else's eyes? And what's the best thing you ever heard a child say?