One of my favourite things about James’s current age is his enthusiastic willingness to repeat any phrase said to him, with no particular desire to understand what it means. It’s like having the world’s best parrot. I think he just enjoys copying and enunciating.
As a result we have to work very hard not to swear these days. His delighted rendition of “Dammit!” immediately after I dropped my phone was a healthy warning. (It’s bad enough that he once escaped my clutches and ran around the food court of a shopping centre in Yorkshire saying “Fork!” at people.)
When it comes to learning the real context or meaning of a word, G reckons that he is like an artificial intelligence whose programming requires you to plug something in 3 times in order for it to save. So, by pointing at an object or person and getting him to repeat its name 3 times, he will generally remember it.
Abstract things take a lot longer (like counting or reciting the alphabet) but can eventually be memorised, parrot-fashion, via the power of repetition or being set to music. But where’s the fun in that?
Earlier this week we taught him to repeat the phrase “Flux Capacitor” whilst watching Back to the Future. This makes him beam with delight, though he has no idea what it means. G is now attempting to program in phase 2, in which James has learned to respond reliably to the question “James, what makes time travel possible?” with the answer “flux capacitor!”
Um, good luck with that. (of course, if it ever works I will put it on Youtube)
The bigger question is whether this poor child will ever rebel against the constraints of such enforced geekery – or is his lonely future already mapped out, snorting away to vintage episodes of robot wars in his bedroom. Only time shall tell…