The Girl and I play a lot of word games and guessing games, mostly in the car as we’re to-ing and fro-ing from daycare to home, and back to her mum’s.
A popular one has been the “Animal game”, which I’ve mentioned here a couple of times by now, which is basically twenty questions about animals, without the “twenty” restriction. But, The Girl is constantly seeking to innovate when it comes to word games and guessing games, usually with extremely ambitious rules that seem to be weighted in her favour.
The Girl: I thought of a new game. I choose a letter, and then you guess which word begins with the letter.
Me: OK. It can be any word?
The Girl: Yes. I’ll go first: “E”
Me: Um. Can I have a hint?
The Girl: It has to do with an animal.
Me: Right. So, this word is animal-related in some way. Um. Elephant?
The Girl: No.
Me: OK. Egret?
The Girl: No.
The Girl: No.
Me: Um, earthworm?
The Girl: NO.
Me: OK, I can’t actually think of any other “E” words that are animal-related.
The Girl: Want me to tell you?
The Girl: It’s “donkey”!
Me: Donkey? That doesn’t begin with “E”.
The Girl: But donkeys say “EEEE-YAWWW”
Me: I don’t like this game.
The Girl had her 6th birthday on the 23rd of September. Among the festivities that weekend, including a visit to her Nana for a birthday lunch, the Girl, her cousins, and a group of her little friends went bowling.
The music pumped under black light as they bowled. Some were tunes of the day – your Justin Bieber, your Selena Gomez. But, they also played classic videos (“Hey everyone! It’s time to DAAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNNCCCE!”), including “You’re the One That I Want” from Grease, “YMCA”, from the far away world of the early ’80s, when we didn’t know camp for what it was, but somehow had just as much fun. And of course, the theme song of rhythmically-impaired white people everywhere – “The Chicken Dance”.
But, it really was fun – really!
Here’s a picture! It’s a bit grainy and crap, but it’s arty.
It’s a gross example of commercialism, perhaps. But, here’s a shot of the Girl and her DS, taken outside of her mum’s house. The game? My Little Pony.
She doesn’t have a lot of electronic games. But, this is one, and one that demonstrates a balance on the Princess/Tomboy scale.
One thing that I’ve noticed that she does is that she doesn’t just play the game; she talks to the creatures on screen. This takes the interactive part of the game to another level. It seems that the Girl is creating something of a meta-narrative as the game progresses.
The imagination will not be repressed!
I talked about driving home from a special Father’s Day night at the Girl’s school, and randomly singing a bit of James Brown’s “I Got the Feelin’”. Well, that prompted me to introduce the Girl to the essential greatest hits collection (not too many essential greatest hits collections out there, but this is one …) James Brown 20 All-Time Greatest Hits.
She took to it – I mean really took to it. “I’ve Got the Feelin’” was an easy in. But, “Mother Popcorn”, “Give It Up, Turn It Loose”, “Make It Funky”, “The Payback”, “Superbad”, and (my favourite where the Girl is concerned) “Say It Loud (I’m Black and I’m Proud)”, are also favourites. There is nothing quite so magical as the classic call-and-response structure on that last one, where your five year old yells “I’m black and I’m proud!” on cue from her carseat.
I suppose there is something of a cultural anomaly happening with all of that, given that, for all intents and purposes accepting that we’re all from Africa, we’re not actually black. But, I think what she’s picking up on, beyond the primal, celebratory, and intrinsically particpatory nature of funk music in general, is how empowering that message actually is, black or not. It’s joyful.
This has gone beyond simple appreciation for the music, and the constant requests to have it played in the car as we travel (OK by me!). She’s started to write her own James-inspired jams. The most notable of course is her signature “Gonna Get Some!”, which is a little ditty she made up one day, with little more words than that, true to the tradition. It makes me laugh. It is very well observed. I’m waiting for her to call out “Maceo! blow your horn!” halfway through it.
Also, her own crafted response to “Hot Pants” has been to inquire, “What about cold pants?”. Maybe she’ll write another one that is temperature-inclusive.
It completely makes sense that this stuff resonates with her. James Brown’s music is all about groove. It has very accessible lyrical themes. It’s pretty easy to sing along to.
I haven’t quite worked up the nerve to expose her to “Sex Machine”…
We all have our gifts. Spatial relationships and how stuff goes together is not, and never has been, one of mine. As such, jigsaw puzzles and I never really got along.
But, the Girl is different. Her ability with jigsaw puzzles is far removed from my own, even now.
And yes – that’s a unicorn.
She and I do them together. But even now, aged 5, she’s talking me through the process of what goes together where. She says that she needs my help. But, I think she’s just being kind.
We’ve got a 1000 piece one, which she isn’t quite ready for (and I know I’m not!). But, we’ll see.
This past weekend, the Girl and I went the to Delta Family Picnic, at which there were many activities, booths, and kiddie rides.
There was also an art installation. So, the Girl dressed up as an owl,
And then climbed inside of an enormous, inflatable fish:
The installation, or choreographed participatory event, was called the Nylon Zoo by Evelyn Roth.
From Roth’s site:
The NYLON ZOO is a choreographed participatory event – you are the dancers and performers! Fly like a bird, hop as a frog or rabbit, twirl in a rainbow cape, swim like a fish, bobble like a hoopla mushroom. The costumes fit all ages from 2 to 102 and are designed to make you move. It’s an interactive story event as children and parents enter the giant inflatable storytelling theatre.
I think it’s pretty weird, but in an absolutely wonderful way. I love the presence of random objects with which (in this case in which) you can interact. The Girl went right in there, where she was guided in a series of movements inside of the multicoloured fish (“everyone touch something green!”). And costumes – I’m all over ‘em, and so is the Girl.
I wish I’d realized that I was allowed in, too!
Evelyn Roth rents some of her designs for events. You can visit Evelyn Roth’s site for more information about a variety of inflatables she’s made.
So, I decided to follow up my other post about the Girl and my car with this post. I figured a nice picture might work, so I asked her to pose sweetly in front of it.
Until I took the picture.
Now, that is a classic Evil Genius expression on her face, unless I am very much mistaken.
What’s that in her hand? A weather control device of some kind?
No. It’s an Easter egg.
Or is it?
(PS: And the Girl sings: “Happy Earth Day to you! Happy Earth Day to you! Happy Earth Day dear Ea-arth! Happy Earth Day to you!)
Since she was a baby, the Girl has responded to music. I suppose that’s not exactly a unique scenario since (I believe) that music plays a vital part in our development, and in our very survival, no matter how old we are.
But, it should be said that the first music I remember her responding to was “Anarchy in the UK” by the Sex Pistols. I am proud of that somehow. She’s since embraced pop radio, noted for a performance one morning of Ke$ha’s “Take It Off”, with lyrics rendered phoenetically, on the SkyTrain, much to the delight of fellow passengers.
She makes up her own songs, too. I suppose that comes from her dad doing the same to inject a bit of dimension to things like getting on shoes and coats, brushing teeth, taking baths, and other everyday activities. She now can be heard making up these songs as she plays with her toys. When I was her age, my stories were action-adventure. Her’s are musicals.
Recently, I found a miniature guitar in the ‘please take it, it’s free’ pile in the laundry room of my building. It’s an actual six-string guitar, not a uke, with steel strings. And most importantly, it’s pink. It seemed like a no-brainer to pick it up.
There was a reason that the Pink Guitar was on the ‘PTIIF’ pile. It won’t be tuned for love or money. The tuning pegs won’t hold the tension of the strings, so when you try and tune it, and pluck the strings, it sounds not unlike something from Ry Cooder’s Paris Texas soundtrack.
Something I’ve noticed that is interesting is that the Girl gravitates to holding the guitar like a leftie, even though with everything else, she favours the right hand – not unlike Paul McCartney!
But, no pressure.
Right now, she’s just learning the relationship between holding the strings down with one hand, moving her fingers up and down the neck, and plucking the strings with her other hand. She’s learning the relationship between tension and release and how that plays into all kinds of musical forms, from the Sex Pistols, to Ke$ha, to Ry Cooder. It’s an important aspect of her development, I think, because it’s about cause and effect, coordination, and how those things intersect.
She won’t learn how to play on the Pink Guitar. A guitar that won’t be tuned isn’t much use for that. But, maybe it will stand as a something that will spark the idea of learning an instrument, and that the ability to make music can be a gateway to yet another avenue of expression.
Of course, she’s professed an interest in the drums, too.