b Papa Dog's Blog: Start ‘Ginning

Papa Dog's Blog

A Thing Wherein I Infrequently Write Some Stuff

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Start ‘Ginning

The title phrase was once viewed hereabouts as a small piece of adorableness. Baby Dog would employ it to indicate that she wanted to hear a given book in its entirety (as though we ever read them any other way), starting at the beginning. She would scramble over with, say, The Very Busy Spider in hand, and say, “Verybusyspider! Start ‘ginning?”

Later, she found applications for the phrase in the music world. She would ask to hear, say, Badlands. By the time I had the song up on the Napster, she’d be chattering about something else, and would be so absorbed in some new entertainment that she’d fail to hear the start of the song. Suddenly she would notice that it had been playing for a while. “Start ‘ginning?” she would ask, whereupon I would be expected to restart the track.

At bedtime, “Start ‘ginning” has gained currency as a rather transparent ploy to prolong the time before sleep. “Starry Starry Night?” she might request. I begin to sing; she begins to chatter about the pig in the mud or the frog jumping the fence. Halfway through the first verse, she says, “Start ‘ginning?” At first, I thought this was the same situation as with Napster – that Baby Dog just hadn’t been listening and wanted to hear the part she missed. But when she trots out “Start ‘ginning?” three times before a verse is finished, I must admit she’s playing me. “Daddy can’t keep starting at the beginning, honey,” I say, and soldier on.

Lately, the phrase has become a weapon in the just-starting Terrible Twos campaign. It is being applied indiscriminately and confusingly to any situation that fails to meet Baby Dog’s exacting standards. This morning, we were playing a game involving Baby-Dog-ups (that’s where I lie down on the floor and bench press her ten times), “Whoa!” (that’s where I sit on the couch, set her on my lap facing me, then dip her back and upside down until her head almost touches the floor, exclaiming “Whoooooooaaa!”) and bounces (that’s where I bounce her up and down on the couch, saying “Bounce! Bounce! Bounce!”). We did two sets of Baby-Dog-ups, a few run-throughs of “Whoa,” and were on to the bounces, when she exclaimed “Start ‘ginning?” Assuming she meant to go back to the beginning of the game, which was the Baby-Dog-ups, I started doing that, and she burst into tears, howling “Start ‘ginning!” I know that it’s futile trying to reason at this point, but I tried anyway…“Start at the beginning of what, honey? Daddy doesn’t know what you want?” This only increased the volume and the tears. Luckily it was breakfast time just then, so there was a ready distraction before it became a total meltdown.

At bedtime, “this little piggy” was marred by a similar “Start ‘ginning” incident, which no amount of rocking and singing could quite cure. Little bursts of tantrum continued throughout song time and point at stuff on the wall time. When Baby Dog was tucked away in her sleep sack, I was at last able to soothe her happily to bed by making pretend burp noises at her. To ward off a bedtime tantrum, sometimes a dad’s gotta do what a dad’s gotta do.

I know Baby Dog is (a) just trying to exert a little control over her environment and (b) frustrated because, advanced as she is, her ability to communicate still lags behind her desire. But gosh golly it sure will be good when she can reliably find the words for what ails her.


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