Happy Birthday Spiderman! On Toddlers Learning to Sing

I was holding my toddler up in the shower when he started singing happy birthday out of the blue. He had never sung it on his own before. In fact, he typically shuns any sort of singing that isn’t coming from some professionally produced media. He has spent the past couple years shouting at me whenever I show an inkling of beginning to hum a tune. When I dare to get into the swing of things, he will run up and slap me on the thigh before firmly directing me to cease and desist. This may actually denote a fair bit of good taste, as I am more prone to breaking glasses than records with my dissonant voice.

It therefore startled me to find him belting out the lyrics so energetically. “Happy birthday to you!”

Each refrain would be punctuated by a wide-mouthed smile, his eyes beaming at this minor miracle of childhood development. He paused. I assumed his moment of grandeur had ended. I was wrong. He started up again, but after his second refrain, he hesitated slightly.

“Happy birthday…Spiderman!”

And so it went. Spiderman had somehow become a celebrated figure in this impromptu epic choral arrangement. I am not quite certain where my boy has been exposed to the daring webslinger, since I haven’t exposed him to it at home. Perhaps the older kids at daycare are fans? What I do know is that Spiderman’s birthday was back in August, so I guess these heartfelt wishes are better late than never!

 

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The Dark Sorcerer: Quantic Dreams E3 Demo (not suitable for younger audiences)

If you haven’t caught it yet, here’s Quantic Dreams’ demo of the Dark Sorcerer. It is a technology demonstration being used to test out some next generation capabilities for the PS 4. With any luck, games will look like this in real time in the (relatively) near future.

Even if you’re not into the technology of game development, it’s worth watching the video for the humour that has been profusely laced throughout its twelve fantasy-packed minutes.

A Child’s Love

Thump!

I can usually hear it faintly from a block and a half away. I am walking back from the grocery, loaded down like a pack mule. It is a matter of pride that I make the effort to hand carry all of my supplies, never resorting to the car, regardless of my shopping list’s bulk. I tell myself it’s doing my little bit for the environment, and has an added bonus of giving me an opportunity for a little cardio and strength training. It’s not that the store is that far away. My home lies within the radius of the outer reaches of a large mall’s parking lot from the store. It’s just that I tend to walk back with a enough bags of milk and other heavy liquid supplies to buckle a donkey’s legs. Whatever it takes to keep my boy growing strong and healthy.

Thump! Thump!

The sound is more distinct now. A sharp note breaking the silence of my quiet neighborhood. There is no-one on the street. It’s about at this point every time that my hands start to go numb. I try to shift the weight around, but invariably my pinky finger feels like it’s about to get pulled off of my hand, so out it slips, leaving my load precariously anchored to three or even two fingers.

Thumpity, thumpity, thump! THUMP!

I can now see the corner of my house. The sound is really loud, but I can’t quite bring myself to pay all that much attention to the constant and frenetic drumming that resonates down the street. I heave on my bags, tossing a set over a shoulder. There. That does it. My screaming muscles groan in relief. The moment passes as I realize that I am mere seconds away from losing my grip on the bags I hold clutched in my other hand. Oh no! The eggs are in that bunch, doubtless nestled between something hard and something harder. Regardless, if I drop them over the asphalt road, I am toast.

THUMP! THUMP! THUMPTHUMPTHUMPTHUMPTHUMPTHUMPTHUMPTHUMPTHUMPTHUMPTHUMPTHUMP! Thump!

I look at the living room window. A small head with a huge grin is waiving madly. My boy is ludicrously happy to see me even though I have been away less than an hour. He has been bashing away at the window since I came into view minutes before. I can’t help but evoke a dog eagerly awaiting the return of his master by the door. Speaking of which, I have somehow managed to clear the last few steps to the stoop. I use my elbow to ease open the latch and shoulder my way into the entryway. My kid dashes around the couch screaming “papaaaaaa!” and collides into my leg, arms thrown wide open. The ensuing bear hug is surprisingly firm on my leg, despite his diminutive stature. Somehow, I have managed to retain my grasp on the bags so as to preserve him from a grisly demise, squashed under a metric ton of rice, apples, and a watermelon. What the heck was I thinking when I bought that?

I set the bags down and he starts to rummage through them, keenly eying their contents as a raven would a shiny thing at a camp site. Out he pulls an item and proudly brings it to his mother. He appears to take great pride in contributing to the chore of organizing our kitchen supplies. A grocery bag rolls over. CRUNCH!

Guess I’ll need to get some more eggs.

At least I know I’ll have someone cheering me on all the way!

Blue Nile Crocodile Smile

Dora has warped my kid’s sense of where crocodiles should normally be found. He now dashes around the living room shouting “kokodyle, kokodyle” in mock fear as he leaps from safe island to safe island formed by the couch and nearby chair. He despairs when he gets stranded on the chair.

During this evening’s imagination-fueled rush around, I ad-libbed a little poem that I delivered in my best Monty-Python falsetto cockney accent to cheer him up:

The Blue Crocodile
Of the Nile
Goes around the floor
Looking for more.
When he find his pile,
He can’t help but smile.
The Blue Crocodile
Of the Nile

He didn’t like it.

Everyone’s a critic.

Programmer’s humour

Yesterday, software engineer Alex Shchepetilnikov (Twitter handle @irqed) graced the Twitterverse with a programmer’s take on the song “99 bottles of beer”. I feel compelled to share it with you, if only so that I can keep it close and remember it:

99 little bugs in the code
99 little bugs in the code
Take one down, patch it around
117 little bugs in the code

If you’ve ever tried your hand at programming, this should resonate with you.

Mr. Shchepetilnikov, my hat is off to you!

Buns in the hallway. Sometimes it’s hard to take a toddler seriously.

My kid has just developed a case of athletes foot. It must be the result of all the hours he’s spending in the gym getting ready for football pre-season camp. Sure, he’s not yet three years old, but you’ve got to start them young if you hope to get them into the big leagues. Tomorrow: we’re doing squats. We’ll start him off easy at 320 lbs, and work our way up from there.

Anyhow, just moments after having having pulled him out of the bath tonight, we dried his feet off and applied a liberal dusting of foot powder to keep his feet dry over night. We then toss on his socks to make sure he doesn’t play with his feet and attempt to keep the powder in place rather than have it wiped off all over his sheets.

We had just finished getting his last sock on as he wriggled out of my arms and dashed down the hallway towards his room. By this stage, he’s still running around au naturel, and it is at this very point that he lost the opportunity for us to ever take him seriously again. There’s nothing quite so hilarious as a naked toddler running away screaming “ninja!” (I am at a loss to explain where that came from) while wearing nothing but white socks as he disappears down a dark hallway.

I’m going to have to bring this up the first time he brings a young lady over for family introductions when he gets a little older. He may die of embarrassment, but the lass will likely find it quite endearing.

I’m looking out for you, kid.

On toddlers and the spontaneous generation of novel vocabulary

Toddlers are an author’s best friend. If you’re ever stuck in a rut and need some help, pay close attention to a kid trying to grapple with the intricacies of learning a spoken language. They will inevitably toss in extra vowels and consonants, clip words short, duplicate sections, or improvise sounds that are more manageable for their developing mind-lip interface.

I think every parent has had the pleasure of being called “Mapa” or “Pama” at some point or other. My boy is fascinated by crocodiles thanks to Dora the Explorer. He trundles around the living room yelling “Crokoli, crokoli!” and roaring his head off. Today, my kid invented a novel mashup of ketchup and mustard. “Kestard, moustchup!” I’m not quite certain why he was going on about condiments, since it wasn’t mealtime, but his little mind was bubbling away trying to figure things out. I keep my ear trained to his vocal experiments, and from time to time can come away with a wonderful nugget that will serve as the setting, character, or event for a future story.

This may not be too useful a feature for non-fiction authors. In fact, such re-interpretations of any language is probably going to lead to deleterious effects on your writing by osmotic transference so having kids is probably not a great career move. Thankfully, mine will doubtless continue to enhance my efforts to produce engaging works of fantasy and science-fiction.

Thanks kiddo!