Thursday, May 1, 2008

Little pitchers have big ears...

Raggzz, the cairn terrier we had growing up, wasn't necessarily the smartest dog on the planet. She wasn't dumb, but she wasn't above average. Well, she was the cutest darn cairn terrier ever born, but that had nothing to do with her brain power. However, despite a complete lack of training she managed to learn what “eat”, “walk”, and “bath” meant. In fact, we even switched the words around a bit and started spelling eat and bath and saying “promenade” instead of “walk” and she still figured it out. It was basically a kind of Pavlovian or classically conditioned learning – she always heard those words in conjunction with those events so hearing them made her anticipate the event. We learned to be careful in how we used those terms in every day conversation. Otherwise we risked unleashing the full range of terrier emotions about whatever it was she thought we had said about her.

Yesterday I was driving along, listening to NPR as I usually do. (Yes, I'm a liberal crunchy granola girl, if you haven't already figured that out!) Bug was in the back seat. She'd rather be listening to music, but I can only take so much of Elmo and Ken Lonnquist, no matter how talented they are, especially if I'm driving along a tedious route as I was yesterday. The NPR discussion was about Barack Obama and Reverand Wright and I was only listening with half an ear. Then I hear a little voice from the back seat. “O. Bam. O... Obama! Bah-rack...Barack Obama!!!” She was sounding out the unusual name just like she tries to sound out words. And she was pretty darn proud of herself for sounding like the radio host.

While Bug doesn't currently have an extreme association with the name Barack Obama, like Raggzz did with her key words, it's still pretty amazing that she was able to pick out that name, a name she's heard so much on the radio, out of all the political mumbo jumbo. And it also reminds me that I'd better keep my *&@# mouth shut when I'm driving or my child will pick up more than a liberal education!

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