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Wednesday, August 08, 2007  

Now Hear This

Warning: Cars spoilers

I don't know at what age kids are supposed to start getting their hearing tested, but I do know this.

A couple of weeks ago, when we were on our way to Trash's mom's house in Iowa, we had the radio tuned to National Public Radio. It happened to be the timeslot for Car Talk in the coverage area through which we were passing. Now, if you've seen the Disney Pixar movie Cars, you know that the Car Talk guys have a cameo as the sponsors of the protagonist, race car Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson). They own a company called Rusteeze, and are simply referred to in the film as the Rusteeze guys. Their characters are kind of goofy and boisterous, a lot like their on-air personas; they even say farewell to McQueen early in the movie by both saying, "Don't drive like my brother!"

So then, we were somewhere in northern Iowa when M. Small started hearing these familiar voices coming out of the radio speakers. I don't think he made the connection until they were in the middle of one of their trademark paroxysms of laughter at how hilarious they are, but when the guffawing started, he figured it out right away. And I think it kind of freaked him out a little bit. Especially considering that they appear in the movie moments before McQueen gets unceremoniously dumped out on the freeway in the middle of nowhere, which is where we of course were at the time. "Nooo, I don't want Rusteeze guys talking to me from the radioooo!"

Trash agreed, of course, because she was really just waiting for What Do You Know to start.

So that was one thing. And then, early last week, an item that Trash had ordered online for M. Small arrived. It was the CD of the Cars soundtrack. While he sat in the kitchen eating his dinner, Trash put the CD on. The second M. Small heard the signature guitar chords that kick off Sheryl Crow's opening theme, he hopped out of his chair and ran into the living room, saying, "Where's my movie?" Trash explained to him that it was just the music from his movie, and I think the fact that he was able to trace the sound to the stereo speakers -- which don't have a picture -- sufficed to convince him that he wasn't actually missing a screening that was happening somewhere in the house. That and the fact that there weren't any sound effects or dialogue over it.

But as the songs played, it was almost like getting to watch it in his head, because he correctly remembered the exact scene that each song was featured in. For instance, the John Mayer version of "Route 66" plays over the beginning of the closing credits, and even though it comes fairly early on the CD, M. Small asked, "Is it over?" when it came on.

Recognizing the songs was one thing, with their distinctive lyrics and melody. But then when the songs were over, "side two" is all the orchestral pieces that make up the Randy Newman score. And he recognized those too. "Lightning McQueen is looking for Mack!" he shouted during the track titled "McQueen's Lost." "They're going tractor tipping!" he announced during "Tractor Tipping." "McQueen's looking at the waterfall!" he declared during the precise cymbal crash in "McQueen and Sally." Every track, this happened. It started to get eerie. During the final track, to which the film's climactic race is set, I finally just asked him, "Did Chick Hicks hit the King?" "Not yet," he said confidently.

So, yeah, my kid can hear just fine. I don't think we're going to have one of those scenes like in Mr. Holland's Opus where a fire engine blasts its horn at a parade and he sleeps through it in his stroller (and please, that kid was old enough by then for them to have known anyway).

On the other hand, maybe we've let him watch Cars a few too many times.

posted by M. Giant 8:41 PM 7 comments


Our 4 year old seems to suffer from a more common form of selective deafness, as evidenced by her utter lack of response whatsoever to statements like "time to clean up these toys" when spoken loudly and firmly from mere inches away, yet her postively instant response to a whispered "ice cream" from a different floor of the house, over the noise of her CD player, the cat meowing and the vacuum cleaner, dishwasher and washing machine running simultaneously.

Also, thinking it is time I break down and rent Cars for the kiddo. We have yet to see that one here in our house, which is pretty dang pathetic considering the hubby and I saw all the Toy Stories/Bug's Life/Monsters Inc and other Pixar films in the theater, opening weekend, and that was before we even had the "excuse" of being parents...

By Blogger Heather, at August 9, 2007 at 4:12 AM  

Not that hearing and intelligence are linked, because they're not, but this whole entry is, of course, not just about his super-hearing.

Your child is a freaky genius, and you should really get used to it, because everyone knows it but you.


You can just start calling him "M. Doogie."

By Blogger Linda, at August 9, 2007 at 4:51 AM  

Or call him M. Einstein. SCARY SCARY SMART LITTLE BOY!!!!!!!!! That is just wildly impressive.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at August 9, 2007 at 5:55 AM  

Maybe it's his mutant superpower, like immunity to poison ivy or the ability to translate an Alabama drawl or fish whispering. Was he exposed to any sort of gamma radiation at the hospital as an infant?

By Anonymous Anonymous, at August 9, 2007 at 7:03 AM  

Good for M. Small!! My kids love the Cars soundtrack, since they are Cars-obsessed too.
BTW, I could hear great until I was 3, when I lost the ability to hear over about a 6 month period. I learned to lip read pretty well as my hearing deteriorated, so my parents took a long time to figure out that I couldn't hear anymore. I haven't seen Mr. Holland's Opus, but I do know it is possible to not realize your kid can't hear until they're 4. (Mine was able to be surgically corrected and I hear ok now.)

By Blogger Melinda, The Bad Mommy, at August 9, 2007 at 4:29 PM  

Kids freak me out. Seriously. They pick up EVERYTHING and every so often bust out with those prescient, ominous statements that make me want to crawl under the bed.

"That's Nana's car. But it's not Nana's car because Nana is Not Here. Maybe Nana gave her car away because she's not coming back." Says my three-year-old nephew. Ulp.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at August 9, 2007 at 5:38 PM  

My son is watching Cars right now. While playing with toy cars. I don't even want to guess how many times he's seen that thing, but Daddy don't play at 6:15 in the morning.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at August 11, 2007 at 4:46 AM  

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