M. Giant's
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Thursday, April 03, 2008  

We Come In Peace

M. Small's in one of his phases. These phases of his are always unpredictable, always near-monomaniacal in nature, and almost always have their genesis in some point months before. For instance, he had almost no interest in Cars the first time we popped it in the player the November before last, but when he happened to spot Lightning McQueen in the opening Oscar montage the following February he had to start watching the movie rightnow. And there's been no going back, as you can see by his bedroom, wardrobe, and toy collection. I've considered conducting a Lightning McQueen census in the house, but it's just too daunting.

It's been similar recently, with his interest in aliens.

I can trace this one pretty comprehensively. When we saw "Lifted" (a Pixar short about a botched alien abduction) in the theater before Ratatouille last summer, he had no unearthly idea what was going on (let alone why his dad was laughing like a loon). But then the DVD came out, and he insisted on watching "Rocket," as he called it, several times in a row and quizzing us about it until it made some kind of sense to him. At some point, he made the connection between those aliens and the ones on the framed animation cel we bought years ago in New Mexico, now hanging on our bedroom wall.

And that's just been fermenting in his head for months, apparently. The process has been kickstarted by watching every Wall-E trailer we can download for him, but I think the coup de grace came earlier this week.

He gets a magazine called National Geographic: Kids. When my sisters and I were young we got an earlier incarnation of this called National Geographic World that looked like an actual magazine for humans instead of a Chuck E. Cheese brochure and had articles instead of photo spreads and engaged in zero shilling of the latest kids' movies and did not need to get off of my lawn in any way. But the other day I reached for his latest NG:K because he wanted me to read him something during dinner and I didn't feel like getting up for a book and what should be on page 24 but a substance-free article about what may or may not be going on near Nevada's Nellis AFB, a.k.a. Groom Lake, a.k.a. Area 51. World would have filled that space with one-third of a substantive and thought-provoking piece about New Zealand's endangered kakapo and told you to like it, but all of World's editors are dead now so there you go.

So I'm fairly sure that until now, M. Small understood that aliens are mostly pretend, at least in the way that most of us encounter them in our day-to-day lives. But now, having seen actual, literal, dead-tree proof of their existence in the form of a crappy composite illustration of flying saucers saucing* around over I-15, he's decided that aliens are real and are coming to our house. Like, today or tomorrow.

He's really looking forward to their visit, too, and has outlined the formal itinerary for us in great detail, complete with fully vetted first-contact protocols. We will all shake hands, and there will be kisses and squeezes, and we will give the aliens crackers (here's hoping they don't hail from the planet Zesta). Then he'll get to see the inside of the flying saucer and possibly even drive it, being very careful not to press the "Crash" button, at least not while over our house. And then we'll all play with blocks and have juice. The details vary from one recitation to the next, but the general outline remains the same. My favorite part is the refreshing exclusion from the proceedings of NASA, Homeland Security, MiB, the CDC, the INS, MUFON, and armed forces of any kind.

It's hard to say how much of this phase of his is a result of feeling cheated at not actually getting to hang out with Santa and the Easter Bunny during their recent visits, and how much is an outgrowth from how much he's been learning about NASA in day care lately. Which is a lot. The other day he educated Trash and me about rocket stages and Gemini capsules and boosters and external fuel tanks and how fuel mixtures are "combined under pressure and SPLFFSHSHHH!." Trash, however, is pretty sure she knows who to blame: me.

But how do you tell a three-year-old there are no aliens? Especially when you're not a hundred percent sure yourself?

I am, however, ninety-nine point nine bar percent sure they're not coming to our house.

* His verb, not mine.

posted by M. Giant 8:15 PM 11 comments


Of course flying saucers would be "saucing" around. That's why they're called saucers. The small one chooses his verbs quite rationally.

By Blogger Dimestore Lipstick, at April 4, 2008 at 6:14 AM  

Sometimes I love how your life and mine are the same. Of course you have to substitute tornadoes for snow and ponies for aliens, but still.
I think M. Small needs to come visit our Edemame.

By Blogger naginata, at April 4, 2008 at 6:25 AM  

How much worse would the obsession get if you let him watch ET and he saw how an earlier group of Earth Kids hung out with an alien?

BTW, I *loved* NG World. I still think about an article about how they make the fake food in Japan for restaurant windows...

By Anonymous Anonymous, at April 4, 2008 at 7:02 AM  

Re: Lightning McQueen census: I am sitting in our bedroom (NOT the kids', NOT the playroom) and can see three McQueens and one Mr. The King. If I were to list all the racetracks--miniature and giant, books, pictures, stickers, coloring books... I think we have personally financed Wall-E. Bet we won't get royalties, though.

By Blogger Miju, at April 4, 2008 at 1:51 PM  

When will he be old enough to watch "Apollo 13" with? 'Cuz I want a piece of that action. I plan to build a kick-ass home theater almost for that film alone.

By Blogger Febrifuge, at April 4, 2008 at 5:42 PM  

We too have made the same transition, in honor of my love of NG World, I bought NG Kids for my boys. And yes, it is NOTHING in comparison. My sister and I would race to the mailbox to see who could figure out the 9 clooooose up photos on the last page. And I TOO remember the article on the fake Japanese food. I was around 10, and we were going to Hawaii, and I insisted we do a tour of all the "fake food windows" thanks to NG World.

I have an anthropoligist friend who insists that NG is an evil force, but still it provided me many happy childhood hours.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at April 4, 2008 at 9:25 PM  

I totally remember NG World. Although, I remember it from Where In the World is Carmen Sandiego being sung by Rockapella (the greatest acapella singing group PBS ever saw) and shilled by Lyn Thigpen (RIP).

I always wished my parents were less cheap so I could subscribe.

By Blogger ErinK, at April 4, 2008 at 11:55 PM  

Do you think he would like the book 'Aliens love Underpants'? I think he might!

(I love it tooooo.)

By Anonymous Anonymous, at April 5, 2008 at 12:41 PM  


Santa and the Easter Bunny are cool, but they're not rocket science! Ha ha ha ha ha! ok, i'm done

By Anonymous Anonymous, at April 6, 2008 at 1:56 PM  

One, I absolutely love how M. Small so logically sorts out our language. Flying saucers will also sauce around in my lexicon, evermore.

Two, National Geographic World!! I remember most these tear-out collectible wildlife cards they included, like baseball cards only with cheetahs and rhinos and whatnot. My mother sent my entire collection through the wash, in the pocket of my Girl Scout uniform. There was a lot of woe in our household that day, for certain. Thanks for the multi-sensory total-immersion flashback...I think!

By Blogger Kim, at April 7, 2008 at 9:41 AM  

Man in the Moon (Simon Bartram) would be a good book for M. Small, I think. Bob works on the moon. Every morning he bicycles to his rocket, and goes to the moon.

The text of the book makes clear that there are NO aliens. (The pictures might indicate otherwise, though ...)

By Blogger Joy Jones, at April 7, 2008 at 11:27 PM  

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