Big Bear?

Lucas loves to understand, and he loves it if he can tell that we can see that he understands, and he loves for us to understand him. Sometimes some of those things are accomplished. Sometimes it takes a little bit of thinking.

On our recent trip to Branson, we brought a few stuffed animals for Lucas. He always has some animals in his crib when he sleeps, and he often plays with them when he wakes up and also throughout the day. Until just before the trip, he still didn't really have a favorite. He liked various animals more than others at various times, but no favorite. Well, just before our trip to Branson, Lucas finally settled on his favorite stuffed animal. His name has become: Big Bear.

Big Bear is not our biggest bear. Sharayah likes stuffed animals also, and she actually still had some from childhood (plus a few that I gave her), among them a panda about the size of Lucas, and a brown bear that is much larger than that. Lucas also has a panda bear that is tiny (about the size of a beanie baby, though it isn't one) and a medium panda bear that is from one of the Kohl's Cares series (that's meant to tell you how big it is, because most of their stuffed animals are about the same size). There are other various bears throughout the house. We have a lot of stuffed animals in our house, and a lot of bears.

The two pandas are among the animals that we would say belong to Lucas. I don't know how, beyond the few animals that still mean a lot to Sharayah and are thus hers, we decide which ones are Lucas's and which are just animals that live at our house and belong to... everyone? At any rate, some of the animals are Lucas's, and some of the ones that are his sleep in his bed with him, and two of those are pandas, a tiny panda and a medium panda (ok, if you really never have seen a Kohl's Cares stuffed animal, they're usually about a foot tall, or a little bigger).

Well, Lucas started taking a pretty fierce liking to the pandas, much to Sharayah's delight (don't forget about her big panda). So, on our trip to Branson, we brought the two pandas as well as some other animals whose identities have escaped my memory. The pandas did not yet have names, so we referred to them as the big panda bear and the little panda bear. Relative size is one of the things you unconsciously teach to your children, and I guess Lucas heard us enough times pointing out big and small versions of things that he caught on. When asked, he knew which was the big panda bear and which was the little panda bear.

Then. In Branson, one day Lucas brings the big panda over to Sharayah and proudly announces (with short vowels [I don't know any easier way to describe the pronunciation of the almost words that he says] "BI BE! BI BE!" (If I'm not describing it well, just think of "big bear" with the final consonants dropped [his second favorite thing to drop, after food]). We were suitably impressed. He was saying "Big Bear" for crying out loud! Or, we thought he was. So the bear's name became Big Bear.

The thing is, some time later, maybe the same day or the next, he made it clear that we had misunderstood. He brought the little panda bear to us and, leading to great confusion, said in a sweet little voice, "bi be! bi be!" What? He clearly knew which bear was bigger. We asked him to to find the big bear, and he did. We asked him to find the little bear, and he did. And then he said "bi be!" Or so we thought.

We eventually figured it out. He was not misunderstanding, and he was not saying the wrong size. We were just not understanding. As it turns out, when we described big and little things to Lucas, we unconsciously used a low pitch for big things and a high pitch for little things. We must have done it pretty frequently, because although Lucas did learn the actual words for big and little, he also learned that you can use low or high pitch instead. And eventually to him, since L's are hard and B's are easy, it seemed clear that even though you know both words, big and little, you might as well just use the word big for both concepts and distinguish which size you mean by altering your pitch. I don't remember exactly how we figured out he was doing that, perhaps when he described a pair of large and small things other than bears as "BI BI!" in a deep voice for the big thing and "bi bi!" in an impossibly sweet, high-pitched voice for the little thing (again, those are just big with the g dropped). At any rate, we figured out there was no "BIG BEAR." It was, in his mind, just "BIG! BIG!" He just wanted to show us that he knew which bear was big and which was little.

To this day (which makes it sound like that was a long time ago and not a month, although it feels like he's been doing it forever) he lets us know every time there are two of something anywhere that he knows which is big and which is small. Two green beans? One is BI BI and one is bi bi. Two sandwiches (we always cut his sandwiches into quarters and give him two at a time [that's another story], and he eats one exclusively until there is a clear big and small sandwich)? One is BI BI, and the other is bi bi. Two panda bears? Well, one is BI BI and one is bi bi. And so, Big Bear was born, although Lucas didn't name him like we thought. We named him and Lucas learned the name from us. Either way, he is Big Bear. And he has the coveted job of being cuddled all night by our little fellow.

Lucas reads Big Bear and Brown Horse a story in Branson.