Yes, I know I never did a 20 month update for the Beaner, and I'll probably regret it later when I have no record of the fact that the 20th month was the one in which he learned to say "please" out loud (or rather, "peeeeeezh!"), and that it was the month in which I suddenly realized why they always say the alphabet sooooo slooooowly on Sesame Street: It's so little kids can repeat the letters out loud (something the Beaner surprised us by doing one morning at around 6:45). Well, OK, now I have a record. Moving on...
I mentioned a while back that the Beaner had learned to identify Saabs. Last Monday when we pulled into a parking spot at the Cherry Hill Mall, he pointed at the car parked in front of us and said, "Ba!" I said, "No, honey, that's a Volvo. Also made in Sweden, incidentally, but not a Saab." "Ba!" he repeated. "No, Volvo. Vol-vo. Red Volvo," I said. We dashed into the mall, purchased a couple items at the Old Navy, and returned to the car. When I plopped the Beaner into his carseat, he pointed forward and said, "Volvo?" "Yes!" I said proudly, "that is a red Volvo." The Beaner repeated "Volvo, Volvo" to himself all the way home.
The next morning, the Beaner indicated that he would like to be taken out to our front stoop to look around. "Jeep!" he shouted, pointing to a green Cherokee parked on the corner. "Two Jeeps!" he squealed, moving his finger slightly to the left to aim at the gray Cherokee in the adjacent carport. He scanned down the street and then shouted, "VOLVO!" I was like, "where? Where do you see a Volvo?"... and then I craned my neck around our neighbor's flowers and saw that there was indeed a white Volvo XC90 (the same model as at the mall) parked midway down the block. I leaned into the house and shouted for Al. "You've got to see this!", I said. When Al came down, I said to the Beaner, "what do you see?" The Beaner fingered the white Volvo and shouted, "VOLVO!" Al was duly impressed.
A couple days later, the Beaner put his new letter-recognition skills to work and pointed out the VW logo on a Jetta parked around the block. (W has since become his favorite letter; he points it out whenever he sees one, though it's often difficult to determine that a W is what he's shouting about, since his word for W sounds extremely similar to his words for diaper, bubble, buckle, and pretzel.) He was off and running from there, pointing out every car he recognized, and asking "adjuwah?" for the ones he didn't. We'd supply the name, he'd memorize the emblem (though it took us a little while to figure out that that's what he was doing, since my sister insisted that he could identify cars when no emblem was visible. She was wrong about that; emblems tend to be plastered all over the car, including on the hubcaps, and the Beaner knows to scan the entire vehicle for a logo he recognizes), and then he'd point out the new makes along with the old. He now recognizes an impressive list of auto makes, including:
- Saab (ba)
- Toyota (lolo)
- Volkswagen (buhbu)
- Honda (aitch)
- Nissan (nitt-an)
- Saturn (dat-turn)
- Jeep (jip)
- Chevy (wee-vee)
- Ford (doh)
- Mitsubishi (mitsu)
- BMW (momo)
- Mercedes (Y)
Before he learned the Chevrolet emblem he'd often confuse Chevy SUVs for Jeeps (though never the other way around), and although he can pick out almost any model of Volvo, the Lexus RX300 throws him for a loop (he always misidentifies it as a Volvo). He's still working on Infinity (he knows the logo, but he hasn't come up with a name for it yet, so he usually just points and stammers). It's pretty entertaining, and of course his father and my father (both car nuts) are super proud of their little savant. My sister-in-law, however, would be horrified, I think; she's expressed dismay in the past when Al has pointed out BMWs to her son, as she'd rather not have him be brand-conscious.
For now the Beaner's talent doesn't bother me; it seems like a not-unhealthy way to observe the world around him. He doesn't seem to attach any kind of worth to the brands he's identifying, so I'm not worried that being able to identify so many auto makes is going to turn him into a label snob or anything. For what it's worth, he's as happy to identify letters as car emblems. I think this is something else that Sesame Street has taught him: That letters are everywhere. (My favorite alphabet segment is the one where they take letters from signs around Seattle.) The night before last, as he was running around pointing at every W he could find, Al remarked, "somebody's on an alphaquest!" Does it really matter if those Ws are on cars? I think not.