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"Its Tail Broke!"

Wednesday, February 09 2005

Yesterday Carrie and the kids went to the zoo. Later that night, I asked Leah about the zoo, and I’ll quote, as accurately as possible, what she said:

“I saw a giraffe and it peed. It just peed right on the floor. It didn’t even have a toilet. And its tail broke. Its tail broke and it peed right on the floor!”

Now, the entire comment is funny by itself. The fact there’s this little human being who couldn’t construct a sentence mere months ago is now laughing about how an animal didn’t even use a toilet. It’s the last part that troubled me. I probed with “Its tail broke?” and she was emphatic. “Yes, it’s tail broke! It peed and its tail broke!”

I figured it out pretty quickly. This giraffe must have also pooped. To a 2 year old, this must look exactly like the tail of the animal breaking off and landing on the floor.

“Oh, its tail broke. You know what, I think maybe you saw the giraffe go poop. What you saw was the giraffe poop falling to the floor. He still has his tail.”

“Yeah, that’s right. He pooped! And he peed right on the floor without even using a toilet!”

She repeated her observations later that night to Carrie as we were getting her ready for bed. We laughed again, because she still thought the giraffe had broken its tail. But Carrie mentioned that she was pretty sure the giraffe didn’t do any of that while they were watching it at the zoo. Then we realized where Leah was getting this.

The night before we were watching a Nature episode on PBS, and a giraffe gave birth. Giraffes give birth standing up, and of course the baby just sort of falls right out on the ground, and is splashed by the afterbirth. Leah watched the entire episode with intensity, but hardly said a word, except for when the giraffe gave birth. She exclaimed at that point that the giraffe peed, but there nothing about any tails breaking.

Overnight she must have formed the tail breaking theory. It struck me after putting her down for the night that, inadvertently, I had impressed upon Leah’s plastic mind that giraffes poop out smaller giraffes and pee all over the floor without a toilet.

I’m doomed.