Thursday, November 06, 2003

Concept: cat

It's confirmed. Helena groks "cat."

On Tuesday, we were again reading PD Eastman's Are You My Mother?, when something extraordinary happened.

We're at the part where the bird is asking the kitten if the kitten is his mother, when Helena starts pointing and giggling and says "keet'dah" (with aspirated consonants and a glottal stop). And on the next page. And on the next. And she keeps pointing at the kitten (an interpretation of which is rendered in this review). "Keet'dah." It could be no plainer to my ears: "kittycat."

She responds in this way to our two live kitties, but there's been a mental leap regarding this two-dimensional representation — not one of our cats as in a photo, but an illustration of a generic cat. She's never seen this cat before, but knows he's a cat. The metaphysics start early.

Yesterday, the event was repeated. "Keet'dah." This morning, we looked at an old cat calendar and my cat feng shui book, and everwhere there was a cat there was excitement and "keet'dah." And sometimes "lnoh," by which she refers to Calvino, our big black tom.

So not only is there a concept fully formed, there's a way to refer to it.

That Helena. She's such a cool cat herself.

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