Thursday, October 20, 2011

Take the Yellow Train to Obama Nation

"Let's go to Obama nation!" says Valerie, running down the hall to Gabriel's room.

And yes, there's a back story.

Some time ago someone stole our three-year-old and replaced her with a 1984-style censor. Here are some of the words I'm not supposed to say, according to our resident representative of the Thought Police:

- happy ("Not happy, just HAP.")
- with
- Mama ("Not Mama, just Mimi!")
- Gabriel ("Not Gabriel, just GABE.")
- Valerie or Val-Val (Panther)
- Panther (Panthie)
- Panthie (Panth)

A lot of them are truncations of the full word. Like "milk" become "muh." Sometimes she doesn't like me to use Albanian words but will allow a Spanish substitution. (Although she does code-switch a lot - today she said "Panther put underwear on koka!" [head]).

I was starting to get really annoyed with these apparently random prohibitions (I mean come on, how am I supposed to get through the day without once using the word "with"???), but Terry of course made a game of it: "Is it an Abomination* to say 'with'?" he would ask. "Yes!" she would reply. The joke, of course, is that in stating the "Abomination" we state the forbidden word as well.

One day for some reason she said "let's go to Abomination!" And I said "How about Obama nation?" And she said "OK!" Obama Nation turned out to be Gabriels' room (which is also sometimes referred to as "the hotel."

Oh, and she has also re-named our apartment as "Yellow Train." We're not allowed to say "home" just "Yellow Train." So for example, when we play This Little Piggy we have to say "...and this little piggy went wee wee wee, all the way to the Yellow Train!" I know, it doesn't scan or rhyme - but we go with it. And it's not completely random, either - the etymology of Yellow Train comes from one of her Sandra Boynton books - there's a picture of a family of hippos in a car ("five works well for a ride in a car, as long as the car ride isn't too far") and the interior of the car is yellow. She got it in her head that they were in a train - a yellow train - and for a while every taxi we rode in was a yellow train. Then our home turned into a yellow train as well and thus it has remained. And her stroller is either a car or an airplane.

She also had me go through her entire huge Richard Scarry book, and cover up all the piggy feet and bunny feet with post-it notes (when I refused to actually cut them out). Also some mouse feet, also piggy dolls. She wanted me to cut off the nose of her beanie baby cat, but agreed to a compromise of covering it up with purple thread (got to practice my darning skillz!). She doesn't like pictures of monkeys either.

Most of her prohibitions seem completely random to me (with? WITH?). Some I can relate to something that scared or annoyed her. Some of them I choose to ignore (I'm not going to cut pictures of monkeys out of her storybooks or off Gabriel's shirt). I usually figure it's just a way for her to try to be in control of something, but Terry's joking that we need to set up a therapy fund for treating her OCD someday.

*Pratchett fans will recognize this reference.

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