Sarcasm and figurative language. Two well-used, yet, still mostly foreign concepts to my four-year old. Obviously I didn’t give birth to an idiot. Eliott understands things in context and what she doesn’t understand, she’s especially adept at pretending to understand, but all of a sudden, her sense of literalism is getting the best of her (and me). I think her sudden questioning of things (like freaking out when she hears “Cady is in the car just dying to see you,”) is exactly half four-year-old-style-literal-reasoning, and half four-year-old-style-asking-questions-makes-me-feel-like-part-of-a-conversation. I decided the easiest way out is to just introduce her to the term metaphor now. For one, it eliminates lengthy explanations of the why’s behind figurative language. Plus, I see it as a bonus, if not for her than for her future high school English teacher. Grasping this abstract concept could effectively put her in the 90% percentile of her high school class, 10 years early. Tonight’s example:
Mommy, how come you never give me ginger-ale? You know Mimi let me have ginger-ale one time.
I know. I could kill her.
NO! Don’t kill her, she’s your mother!
Well. I wouldn’t really kill her, Eliott. It’s a metaphor.
Oh yeah. What’s a metaphor again?
It’s like, when you say something that you don’t really mean, in order to express an emotion for which there are no other words. Like, you know sometimes, when you and Carter are being really loud, I tell you to chill out or my head is going to explode? But does my head actually explode? Have you ever seen my brain guts all over the kitchen?
No! (I assure you she is giggling at this, not freaking out. Don’t call DSS.)
Yeah, but it feels like my head might explode, so I just say it will, and that is a metaphor.
Oh yeah. So tell me another metaphor.
Okay, maybe I say, “I’m so hungry I could eat the entire house,” but am I really going to actually eat the house?
No! (More giggling.)
Exactly. I’m just so hungry I feel like I could, but I really can’t. That’s a metaphor.
[Insert several more examples provided by me. Bedtime is beginning to feel strangely similar to 3rd period at public school. Then, it’s Eliott’s turn.]
Oooh, I know a metaphor.
Okay, tell me.
I say I’m going to go get a haircut, but I’m not really going to get a haircut. (Giggles uncontrollably.)
That’s a good one, Eliott. Do another one.
Okay. I say I’m going to go to the dentist, but I’m not really going to go to the dentist. (This time, whispers:) But I really am going to go to the dentist, so it isn’t a really a metaphor, but I’m just saying it is a metaphor.
[Pause here for my laughter.]
You are actually blowing my mind right now, Eliott. And that’s another metaphor.