Not the Elephant's E


It was “PUZZLE TIME” on Noggin. For those of you without a preschooler in the house, Noggin is a twenty-four hour cable network for preschoolers (although why you need a twenty-four hour network for preschoolers defies explanation). Instead of commercials between shows, Noggin has learning activities led by the network “instructor” Moose A. Moose.

This particular puzzle break included a letter-recognition game in which the viewers were shown a picture and encouraged to point out all of the letter “E’s” that were hidden in the picture. Right in the middle of the picture sat a huge elephant, trunk extended toward the sky, a big uppercase “E” emblazoned on its chest.

I sat on the floor with my daughter. I was trying to comb the tangles from her hair, and she was multitasking: watching TV, drinking chocolate milk, thwarting my every move to detangle her bed head, and playing with Baby and Floppy.

“Look!” I said. “E for elephant.”

“No, no E for elephant. MY E! Not elephant E.”

My daughter thinks she owns the letter “E”, the first letter of her name. Oops. What is she going to think of Elmo when she learns that Elmo’s name also begins with the letter “E”? Will she be scarred for life at this furry red monster’s betrayal?

You may laugh, but for my two-and-three-quarter year-old daughter, these sorts of realizations happen everyday, and they are a big deal in her world. Her brain is taking in so much information and putting so many things together. It’s fun to watch her synthesize things and discover relationships and expand her world.

Not terribly long ago, all colors were blue and all shapes were oval in her world. Now she is acquainted with Roy G. Biv and all of his infinite varieties. Big Bird is no longer a large blue oval, and her world has expanded tremendously. Pretty soon, she will be willing to share her letter “E” with Elmo and the elephant on Noggin, and when she learns to read, all of the words in the dictionary that begin will “E” will be at her disposal.

My daughter is busy exploring the world around her. She is checking out every mud puddle for its jumping capacity. She is inquiring about the worm carcasses on the driveway after the rain. She is exploring movement: jumping, skipping, running and twirling. She is opening new books, turning the pages, lifting the flaps and pointing to pictures. Sometimes she even tells her own stories about the pictures.

Her world is getting bigger and bigger and she is growing through the process. I watch her and I ask myself, what have I done lately to expand my world? When was the last time I let go of a deeply held belief (“My M, not monkey’s M”) so I that could discover more of the richness of the world around me?

As adults it is so easy to slip into the rut of our Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday routine. The same commute. The same job. The same places. We come home from work and watch the same TV, visit the same internet sites and cook the same meal. Could our life be as rich as a child’s if we dared to expand our world with the same vigor as a child?

When was the last time I read a book by a new author? When did I last try a new coffee shop or even a new recipe in my own kitchen? When I did I last learn a new word or a study a new language or travel to a new place? How long has it been since I deliberately jumped in a mud puddle to see how deep it was? Or opened the dictionary to My Letter—M—to see what new words I can learn?

Too long, I suspect. Move over Monkey, “M” is for Michele Meandering among the Mellifluent Menagerie of “M words” and Marveling at their Majesty.

© 2009 Michele Arduengo. All rights reserved.

Author: Michele

Michele Arduengo is a life science and medical writer by profession and a creative non-fiction writer by hobby. In addition to publishing Grits and Purls since 2008, Michele has published essays in Wisconsin Woman, Chicken Soup for the Soul and has a weekly column in her local newspaper.

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