Thursday, February 05, 2009

Living with an Alien

As I considered the behaviors of my thirteen-month-old daughter the other day, it seemed to me that living with her is in many ways how it would be to live with an alien from outer space.

There is a language gap between us. I use common English, while Elora blabbers in a type of speech that consists of short consonant sounds, clicks and raspberries. Sometimes we’re able to agree on a certain word or even give the same sign for it, but when I ask yes or no questions, the response always sounds negative (usually “Nah” or “Nuh”).

Elora also has no understanding of what various objects are. The other day, she took a napkin from the table, so my wife demonstrated how to use one. My daughter brought the napkin to her mouth and proceeded to eat it. I think she has few classifications for items right now, and the default categorization for new items is that they must be food. “What is this? I think I should eat it.”

If science-fiction has taught me anything, it is that 90% of the time, aliens are hostile, often for no particular reason. Elora displays considerable peace until her wishes are refused. When the tantrums start, I’m glad she doesn’t carry a ray-gun. She also enjoys chaos: emptying all orderly drawers and cabinets, spreading toys across multiple rooms and knocking down any towers that I build from her blocks.

Though she has commonalities with sci-fi aliens, Elora is a wonderful little girl, and no alien could ever touch my heart quite as much as her. Sorry E.T.

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