Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Baby Icarus

If you have read the stories of Greek mythology, you may recall the boy Icarus, who, like his father Daedalus, wishes to fly. After Daedalus, a master inventor, fashions a pair of wings from feathers and wax, he cautions Icarus not to fly too close to the sun lest the sun melt the wax, thereby causing the world's first aeronautical disaster.

The rest is predictable: Icarus, imbued with the folly and carefree abandon of youth, ignores his father's warning, melts his wings, and plummets into the sea.

I thought of this story today when Beenie's mama forwarded me a Facebook message containing a blog post from his daycare website. In it, the daycare provider was describing a clever and creative activity she had executed with her young charges.

In Beenie's case, she colored a picture of a smiling sun shining down on a little robot-like creature composed of geometric shapes and then asked him to tell a story about it. She then transcribed that story in his own words.

If you know me very well, you know that I am fascinated by the way language and creativity develop in young children. With six grandkids ranging in age from one to seven, I have had a heyday of recent opportunities to witness such goings-on. So when I read Beenie's story, I was ecstatic.

To me, Beenie's creation seemed to teem with poetry (for me everything teems with poetry), so I have taken the liberty of breaking it into lines like a poem. Other than that, nothing else has been changed. Here then, for your reading pleasure, is the only slightly rearranged creation of a little boy who will turn three years old in two months:

He flew to the sun.
Happy face.
It's spells robot.
He fell off.
He cried.
He hugged Mom.
He fell off with Olaf.
He fall off that sun.
He fell off the kangaroo.
He fell off the horses.
That's the end.

And now, because I simply can't resist, here are some conclusions we can draw (maybe) from the work of this author:

  1. Flying to the sun is a universal obsession of mankind regardless of country, culture, or time period.
  2. The act of falling is prevalent in the life of a two-year-old. (Actually, Beenie has in the past distinguished between two particular kinds of falling, namely plopping and flopping--he is well versed in both, but that's another blog post.)
  3. Irregular verbs like fall and fell are hard to figure out when you are two. (They are also hard when you are in college.)
  4. The Disney movie Frozen is imprinted on the subconscious minds of kids in this generation.
  5. Kids like robots and animals. (This is kind of Orwellian.)
  6. Moms make boo-boos better. (This is so universal that it should be an archetype.)

Now if I wanted to, I could delve further, citing Beenie's use of the demonstrative adjective that in Line 8 as proof that, innately, he suspects there are other solar systems. Or, I could speculate about his awareness of ambiguity as expressed in his last line. 

When he says "That's the end," does he mean the end of the story or the end of the boy who flew to the sun and fell off numerous times? Hmmm. How would Socrates answer that one?

As you can see from my title, I am naming Beenie's little poem "Baby Icarus." Given the similarities of theme between Beenie's plot line and its Greek counterpart--and the fact that I literally watched him cut his teeth on the likes of Baby Einstein and Baby Mozart, that just seems to say it all.

About the Author

Beenie is a smart, rambunctious two-year-old who likes Hot Wheels, his iPad, the movie Frozen, and his four cousins. He has recently learned to sing and use the potty, but not, usually, at the same time. He lives with Mommy, Daddy, his little brother, and his dog Berniece. His Googie thinks he is pretty special.