‘Bring Daddy another beer’ and other phrases to teach your child

Every proud parent can be annoying at times, especially when they start unrealistically bragging about how their child is supposedly the smartest kid in the history of the world.

In my case, however, it’s true.

I say this because my 17-month-old daughter can raise her right arm and shout “football!” Granted, this is not exactly splitting the atom, but coming from a girl who eats rocks and who sometimes mistakes her Uncle Patrick for the purple dinosaur “Barney,” it’s progress.

I had been trying to teach Marilee to say “football” for a while now. We only have one TV in our house, and my wife doesn’t like football, so I’m trying to cultivate a household majority of football fans. My daughter represents a seismic shift in the balance of power, and psychologists say that brainwashing is much more effective if begun early.

So you can imagine how proud I was the other day when Marilee looked up at the sporting event on TV and shouted out “football!” Technically, it wasn’t really a football game so much as it was the fourth round of the U.S. Open golf tournament, but there were men standing around on grass, so I say close enough.

The mainstay of her vocabulary is the word “no.” It’s her standard response to every question — a habit I can only hope continues through her teenage years. In the meantime, I’m milking her overuse of the word “no” for maximum entertainment value at family dinnertime:

Me: “Do you want some more bananas?”

Marilee: “No.”

Me: “More fruit?”

Marilee: “No.”

Me: “Is Mommy a better parent than Daddy?”

Marilee: “No.”

Encouraging a child’s vocabulary skills is vital to cognitive development, which is why I try to teach her on a daily basis. Right now we’re working on basic phrases like “Thank you,” “Yes please” and “Here’s the beer you wanted, Daddy.”

My daughter’s incredibly bright in other areas, too. She’s great at identifying colors, so long as the color is yellow.

Actually she’s getting better with colors, but the learning curve takes a lot of patience and can be incredibly frustrating at times. For example, the other day we were at Sherwood Park when I pointed at a tree and asked her what color it was. She said, “green,” when clearly it was more of an emerald hue with shades of teal.

Numbers are also somewhat of a problem. I try counting to 10 with her, but she skips some numbers. She counts like this: “One, two, three, five, eight.” Which means she’s either forgetting numbers, or Miss Casey at the day care has taught her the principle of the Fibonacci Sequence.

I just worry that her inability to grasp the concept of simple numbers could hurt her chances at landing a good job in the future. On the bright side, she may be nominated as the White House budget Director.

The important thing is that she can say the word “Dada.” It’s the most heartwarming sound I’ve ever heard outside of John Elway’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony. She says it a lot too. In fact, the other day at Wal-Mart she pointed at a male cashier and said “Dada.” So basically, I had to kill him. My wife swears she did not have sex with a Wal-Mart checker 26 months ago, but that’s what all women say.

The only word I wish I hadn’t taught her is “fat.” You’re probably going to think I’m the world’s worst father when I tell you that sometimes I jokingly pinch some of the blubber on my daughter’s stomach while saying “fat.” My wife hates this. She says this is going to emotionally scar our baby, but I say that the lifelong insecurities are a small price to pay for an awareness of unrealistic societal beauty standards.

My point is that Marilee is starting to say the word “fat” a lot. I’m worried we’ll be out in public one day when someone obese will walk by and my daughter will point and say “fat.” This would be incredibly embarrassing. I’d even blush. My face would turn bright red.

Or as my daughter calls it, “yellow.”

E-mail Steve Beauregard at beauregardsteve@ hotmail.com.


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