Seriously, English is way too hard

In our family, when people say goodbye at the door, it’s “See you later alligator” and back comes the reply “In a while, crocodile.” It’s always been this way. I don’t know why, and I can’t remember when it started.  I know I did it with the girls when they were little, and it’s still the way I say goodbye to Hank, and even though he’s a great big almost 15 year old, he still answers me the way he always has.  Over the last year or so it’s been accompanied by some eye rolling, but he does it, and I love it.  I’ve been trying to teach it to Luis for a good long time now, but I’m starting to think it’s not going to take. Something in his nature, maybe the fact that he’s bilingual? Who knows, but he’s absolutely not got the hang of it. I’ll chirp out “See you later Alligator!” and mostly he ignores me, or pretends not to speak English.  (A favourite ploy of bilingual kids everywhere, I’m sure.) This last weekend, he was over for a visit, and we did all the fun things he loves. We made homemade pizza in the shape of a tractor.

makignpizza 2015-03-12

(Thanks to Carlos for that incredibly flattering picture of me. I swear I’m not the most dour Auntie in the world – and also, Lou is standing on a step. I’m not the shortest Tia there is, and he’s not quite a gargantuan kid) and we bribed Millie the cat into licking him on the hand. (Millie and Lou have a strained relationship. She hates the young, and he adores her. He’s very gentle, but she still won’t give him the time of day unless we practically smear the kid in cat treats.)

makingcream2 2015-03-12

After that we whipped the cream for the fruit crumble (I am on a perpetual search for desserts that you can put whipped cream on, so great is his passion for both the mixer, and the cream.)  It was all going so well, and he seemed so big and grown up to me, and he is.  He’s a proper big boy, and so when the time came to say goodbye, I tried again.   “See you later alligator!”  Nothing.  A blank stare.  I tried a prompt. “I say, see you later alligator, and you say “in a while crocodile!”  Nada.  I showed him how it worked with Joe, Joe patiently parroting back the response we wanted, making it look like so much fun – how could Luis resist!

makingcream 2015-03-12

I turned back to Lou, and tried again.  “You do it!” I said.  “See you later, alligator!”

Lou looked at me like I was nothing short of exhausting and completely committed to making the world harder than it has to be, and patiently said “Tia Effie, in Spanish, you just say adios.”

I feel like the window on that game might have slammed right shut with that one.  He’s getting too big, and too…. Luis. I was thinking about it this morning as I sewed the buttons on his latest sweater.

buttonsforwyatton 2015-03-12

This  one is to celebrate his third birthday, just past, and I was looking at the size of it, and thinking of the size of him, and imagining that soon he won’t be any part a baby. It made me sad a little bit.  I like him so much where he’s at now, and I wouldn’t trade making tractor shaped pizza and reading stories for anything, but I miss the wee baby days, and rocking him to sleep, and…. well. I think Katie and Carlos miss it too, because guess what?

goodnews 2015-03-12

They’re making me another one.

197 thoughts on “Seriously, English is way too hard

  1. YAY!!! Another one!! The world always needs more babies to snuggle and knit for. 🙂

    See you later, Alligator is standard in this house.
    See you soon, you big baboon – isn’t in the song, but it rhymes.

  2. How stunningly generous of them. I hope you remember to share! A new baby is a gift for everyone…Congratulations to your entire family.

  3. Better luck with the next one. Tia Effie is awesome. Didn’t Hank call you Aunt Steppie?

    All best wishes to Katie and Carlos and Luis. When do we look for amazing baby knits to appear?

    • PS: on the topic of bilingual kids. I had a brother in law who was totally hearing impaired and had only ASL, no spoken words. My nephew was about Luis’s age when he figured out that when his father was speaking to him, he needed only to turn his back. Crossing his arms on his chest was optional, but added emphasis.

  4. Oh my! I laughed so hard when I read “They’re making me another one.” You just crack me up! Congratulations to everyone!

  5. Don’t give up yet. At that age my oldest granddaughter, when I pretended the stick that she handed me was a magic wand, looked me squarely in the eye and said, “No, Grandma, it’s just a stick.” Now that she’s a few years older, she’s learned to play along 😉

  6. That ending made me smile. My granddaughter is almost 7 and I have no new grandbabies on the way (and won’t for a while, it seems). Luckily, a close friend gave me a little one to knit for last November.

  7. If possible a pattern reference please for that Little Boy Blue sweater that looks so handsome! love the texture…love the pizzas too….:)

  8. Ah yes, both my children are bilingual and I don’t speak one of their languages. The five year old pretends to only speak one or the other language depending on his wants and needs, while the two year old will use both languages if she’s not getting what she wants in one. Interesting tactics.

    Congratulations on the new family baby!!

  9. Maybe his “I don’t get it” attitude is due to not yet appreciating rhyme. Enjoy some Dr. Seuss books read aloud together and see how it goes. Play some rhyming word games in both Spanish and English together. If you enjoy it, I think he will, too.

  10. Congrats to Luis, Kate & Carlos–one of my favorites photos ever on your blog was the photo you posted on your blog when Luis was first born. Relieved to hear Luis was standing on a stool, because I lthought he had gotten big way too fast. And can’t believe your yarn winder is 15!

  11. Ah yes, alligator/crocodile was very big between my mom and my older son (now 30-ish, eeeek!) buy younger son was distressed somehow that she thought he was an alligator. They compromised on “bye bye butterfly” which younger son exchanges with his 90-something grammy to this day.

    And so delightful to be being presented with a new little relative to love, lucky you.


  12. Maybe Luis would be willing to say ‘goodbye’ using the English rhyme if you said ‘hello’ using a Spanish one:
    — “Que te pasa, calabaza?”
    — “Nada, nada, limonada!”
    (yeah, I know it doesn’t make sense, but it’s cute when little kids say it!)

  13. Yay!
    Maybe if the response is “don’t forget your toilet paper” he might play along…. There is also “Don’t forget your lunch, for later” which can also be tortured into “Don’t forget your lunch, for ron” to which my daughter always said “who’s Ron?” and “why do I need to take his lunch?” – fair call really.

  14. Congrats, Kate and Carlos and Luis and Tia Effie! Do keep us posted on the blankie – and I hope pink would be appropriate for it! Can you imagine Luis in a girl package? She’d have Carlos (and Tio Jose) utterly besotted!

  15. Wohoo! Awesome news. Looking forward to seeing new baby knits. My last niece is 9 going on 30. I need another new baby niece or nephew. I hope sooner, rather than later!

  16. In our home, it was “Good-by, be careful, I love you!” This is said very, very quickly. How about you find a little alligator applique to put on that sweater? That might do it.

  17. Oh, congratulations to Katie and Carlos and Luis! I’m betting Tia Effie may need to babysit a fair amount when baby comes. Can’t wait to follow the continuing adventures of Tia Effie and Luis, which should totally be the title of your next book.

  18. Congrats Auntie! You could try asking Carlos how it would be said in Spanish…. then you and Luis could have your own special bilingual goodbye (you speaking English, Luis in Spanish or whichever way you want to do it) 🙂

  19. Oh hallelujah! You took the words right out of my mouth before I could suggest it. I can only imagine the beautiful baby things you’ve already got ready for this one…. lucky, lucky you!

  20. Tractor shaped pizza? Awesome. Luis is adorable. Congratulations to Katie and Carlos on the new wee one. Can’t wait to see the itty bitty knits and the blanket– no pressure!
    I am just now discovering the joy of baby hats, if I discover booties and sweaters I may be unstoppable.

  21. Such an accomodating family! A knitwear model daughter (and a model daughter I’m sure) and family that is growing a baby just for you!
    In Spanish it may just be Adios but in McFee its a whole rhyme-dance optional.
    **ADJUST your knitting spreadsheet NOW for shower, birth AND holidays for the newest one** because you KNOW you tell yourself ‘oh its just a wee knit so I can do something complex/fancy it won’t take that much longer’ and next thing you know, you’ve committed yourself to a Fox Paws layette. Go fix the spreadsheet NOW.

  22. Oh congratulations!!! That’s such happy news! SO cool.

    And you just know that one of these times Luis is going to surprise you with a crocodile or later ‘gator when you least expect it. I spent the weekend being happily teased by a certain four-year-old grandson and his little brother while the two-month-old smiled from time to time.

    • That blue sweater is gorgeous. Luis is gorgeous, and clearly smart, because he likes whipped cream. Whipped cream improves anything up to and including rocks and the cat.

      My teenage brothers reduced it to “Later, gator” and “While, dile”, thus irritating my aunts and uncles who are old enough to remember the song as a hit they used to dance to.

      We still do “After you, my dear Alphonse” “But no, after you, Gaston”. Talk about old memes.

  23. Congratulations on the new little one, Kate’s sweater is gorgeous!

    To give you hope, my four-year-old is just now starting to think ‘later, gator’ is funny. And the 9-year old insists on saying it every morning when he gets out of the car at school. So give it time, he’s still a little little boy.

  24. What a beautiful pregnant woman! If I were halfway that gorgeous while pregnant, I would have had 5 more! Her sweater, too, is perfect!

  25. In my family it’s been shortened to ‘later, ‘gator, or in splintered Spanish it’s ‘hasta la bye-bye’. Don’t know how all of that got started, though.
    Did you make Katie’s really cool sweater?

  26. Wonderful news on the addition to the family!

    As far as desserts that go with whip cream, is there really anything that doesn’t? My personal favourite is home made chocolate chip cookies with a big dollop of whip cream on top! or if you are feeling particularly adventuresome, whip cream between two cookies 🙂

  27. Congratulations!!!!! Katie is stunning (and so is that sweater)….and Holly took my answer! Everything goes with whipped cream for Heaven’s sake!! Sheesh!

    • Helen, I can think of lots of things that wouldn’t go well with whipped cream on top. Sauerkraut, BBQ, spinach, French fries, dill pickles, pepperoni pizza, anchovies, anything grilled over mesquite, limburger cheese, broccoli, clams, garlic salami — just to name a few.

          • Some of the people I knew in my undergrad days — those who seemed to walk around in a cloud of illegal-smelling smoke — would have argued that those WERE desserts! They would have been dead wrong, of course. Once sober (for lack of a better term), they would have puked up everything they’d they’d ever eaten at the thought they’d actually eaten one of those combinations!

  28. What a wonderfully funny and so truly child-like response! Such a classic.

    Congratulations to everyone on the great news. Also, what a fantastic maternity jumper that is – I love the belly section. 🙂

  29. Hank is almost 15? I admit that one made me have to sit down for a moment and digest. How is Hank almost 15? It seems impossible time has flown that fast.

  30. YAY for them! That’s wonderful!

    You should try making pavlova with Luis, he would get to whip the egg whites THEN whip some cream to go on top. I recommend a chocolate pavlova with strawberries and cream. I love that he loves the mixer already, sure sign of greatness!

  31. Oh, HOORAY!! The story was lovely, and made me giggle. “We just say, ‘Adios!'” But that last photo made me so happy for you and yours. And the maternity sweater is fantastic! Congratulations, Tia Effie!

  32. When our grandson was 5 (he’s now 15) my husband said to him, “You know what they say in alphabet land, ‘I L B C N U’. J.D. looked very serious and said, ‘There is no alphabet land.’ Little kids just crack me up.

  33. Congratulations to the entire family! Every baby deserves some handknits to welcome them into the world. I can’t wait to see what this baby gets!

  34. Congrats to Katie and Carlos, and to Luis on his impending big-brother status! Also, in my family, the reply has always been “After while, crocodile!” And the first person (the one who started it with “See ya later, alligator!) often replies, “Pretty soon, you big baboon!” Then the second person rolls their eyes and leaves….

  35. Are you trying to drive some of us nuts by withholding details about Lou’s sweater? Please share pattern and yarn.

  36. Oh man. You’re just in heaven, aren’t you? They’re coming thick and fast now– Luis, Myrie, and now another one!


  37. *high pitched squealing* Wow! Congratulations, Katie and Carlos! Luis is such an upstanding little dude. What great people to be making more great human beings for the world.

    I may be living a little vicariously through other peoples’ pregnancies and parenthood. I’m resisting the urge to hurry up and get pregnant myself!

  38. Oh how I laughed at this post! It reminded me of my child #3. So practical! I would play dolls with his younger sister and he would come over, look puzzled, and ask, “you know they aren’t real, right?” Sounds like the two of them are two peas in a pod!

  39. Congratulations! I was wondering if you were teasing Katie and Carlos about an expected baby with your December 23 post about the gnome ornament! I am currently knitting for 4 family babies over the course of 8 months!

  40. My parents tried that with my kids and they would always just laugh and say “Bye alligator” or “Bye crocodile ” they would never complete the rhyme. I love his serious reply.

  41. Oh my goodness, Katie’s sweater is cute! Did you make it? Only where it’s icy cold (uh hmm, Canada) could a pregnant lady wear a sweater. Congrats all around! More wee knits.

  42. Ha! Or should I say more sqweee knits. See what I did… I put the word squeal with wee because everyone squeals over wee knits. Ha! I amaze myself.

  43. what a fine mind on that kid. what a cute baby belly and gorgeous sweater (both of them). I see we have even more heart-grabbing baby-wear to look forward to. I’m happy for all.

  44. What a great story! and that sweater is a winner. What is the stitch pattern? It looks a bit like seed/moss but don’t think so….can you enlighten me oh wise one?

  45. Get Luis to teach you to say “see you later alligator” in Spanish, and he can answer you in Spanish. He’ll love teaching his Auntie, and you two will have something special going.

    Also, babies are special – not the least because they don’t last, as babies. Their growing up (not just physically, though that too) means you and his parents are doing their/your jobs. My sister-in-law’s sister said she preferred kids before they learned to talk. The last I heard, she had six. Stop and think where that kind of attitude will get you, and I don’t mean just lots of kids. One of my cousins, a teacher, said she liked them even better after they learned to talk. Seems to me that attitude will yield better adults.

    • many years ago, when my son was a new baby, my then-mother-in-law did not ever want to hold him or baby-sit. she said she liked them when they got to be two or so and got a personality. even in my new mother state, i could not believe she thought that babies did not have personalities. and she had two children of her own!

  46. We have one grandson. We adore him. He is six months old and we are over the top in love. We get to see him most of the time through FaceTime and photos but I can live with that, sort of. I can understand your desire for more things baby and toddler so I think it is very considerate of Katie and Carlos to grow you another.

  47. Didn’t see that last line coming. Woohoo!! Congratulations! Katie should also get however much whipped cream she wants.

  48. Congratulations! I know what you are talking about the bilingual kids! I work with bilingual and even trilingual kids and they surely DO use it in their favor quite often!

  49. Congratulations Carlos, Kate, Luis and Aunt Effie! And of course the rest of the clan. New babies are wonderful! I have a 4 and 5 year old and can’t get over how fast they’ve grown – littles…they just don’t cooperate when we tell them to stay that way 🙂 Have fun knitting for the newest babe. And I’d keep on trying with the see you later alligator. He’s at a very literal age where what adults think is cute and funny is just not to him.

  50. Congratulations Katie, Carlos, Luie, and Tia Effie!
    And Katie, you’re beautiful. I’ve never been able to make pregnancy look elegant. Kudos to you for pulling it off!
    Also, I love Luis’ birthday sweater!

  51. For some strange reason, my son who’s always says “see you later chipmunk” – I have no idea where it came from.

  52. We said the same thing in our house! Only there were 3: “see you later alligator, after awhile crocodile, see you soon raccoon” I love the “bye by butterfly” too!

  53. Tia Effie. I love it. The name, Stephanie, does present challenges to children. Three syllables might as well be an entire sentence. The kids I once babysat called me “Taffy”. Can’t really argue with kids who name you after candy.

    Congrats on the new family member/knitwear recipient and model.

  54. Congratulations to everyone! Katie looks radiant. I think when I was at that stage I looked like a potato, I certainly felt like one.

  55. Congratulations! How exciting!

    I have a lot of coworkers who only speak Spanish & “see you later, alligator/in a while, crocodile” is the first English phrase my boss tries to teach everyone.

  56. Awww…. he’s growing up. Love the photos and that smile. And who doesn’t need lots of recipes for making whipped cream!! Well done.

  57. I’m a psychologist. One time my client brought her 4-year-old son along to my office, and he sat and played while we chatted. When they left I shook his hand and said “See you later, alligator.” And he came back with “See ya soon, ya big baboon.”

  58. It may be that the rhyming just isn’t working for Lou, he may not hear it or it may not intrigue him. As other posters have said, it could just take longer. One thing I have learned from Spanish as first language co-workers – never use a negative question, as in “You don’t like that? You’ll get a nodding, verbal no or a shaking head, verbal no. If you’re lucky, because that head gesture will be the clue what the ‘real’ answer is. Not everyone will be so helpful, and it can get really frustrating. No doubt it’s equally confusing/frustrating to be on the receiving end of a question with two answers, but only one logical way to respond. For some reason that sort of grammar does NOT work in Spanish and it hardwires into the way people think.

  59. The sweater is too … too… I must make one *immediately*.

    And my niece is expecting. The first child in the new generation.

    Sure, I can knit a maternity sweater in a month. When do they start needing maternity wear, anyway? She’s toward the end of the first trimester.

    PS We always used the alligator-crocodile exchange with my uncle in New Orleans!

  60. Awww….I had a Thea Effie when I was little, not really my aunt but all the adults were called Thea and Theo (aunt and uncle) by us kids. Congrats on the impending baby to your family! And as we say, Okey Dokey, Artichokey!

  61. Congratulations! How could they not make you another as you’re obviously so in love with their first. Usted es una Tia maravillosa.

  62. Are there any cute little “see you later, alligator”-type things that people say like that in Spanish-speaking countries?

  63. Our favorite whipped dessert is a Pavlova – bonus is the meringue, but you have to make it ahead of time.

    Also – how fitting that I was asked to click the cloud 🙂

  64. Luis sees things. What a wise little fellow. I’m sitting down with some quiet crocheting and a cup of coffee, and I’m really glad I can now ponder what Luis said. Thank you for sharing Luis and Carlos and Katie today.

  65. That is an absolutely gorgeous maternity sweater. Any chance you can share who makes that pattern?? Haven’t seen anything like that before.

  66. Congratulations Auntie! I was wondering when that was going to happen… I had a little boy a couple months after Louis. I had my 2nd baby (a girl) a couple months so thought they might be thinking the same too. Exciting for everyone! Lou will be a great big brother!

  67. Yay!!! Congrats all around – and Luis is the funniest 🙂 Tractor shaped pizza does sound pretty nifty. Enjoy – and can’t wait to see pix of the “sprinkle” if you guys do one for baby #2 – 🙂

  68. I am pretty sure he said that line in the all-suffering tone that kids learn at that age. Among the lines of, “Why are they saying this?”

  69. I love everything about this post! Can’t wait to see what you knit for the wee one. (I also grew up with “see you later, Alligator!”)

  70. Perhaps Luis isn’t sure of exactly what alligators or crocodiles are in English, or maybe he has little or no frame of reference for them. If it were me, I’d try reading him the books “Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile” and “The House on East 88th Street” by Bernard Waber, if you haven’t already. Lyle is a fun and friendly character, and may enamor Luis of crocodiles, at least enough to want to say “In awhile, crocodile!” Just a thought…:)

  71. You might try “Hasta la pasta” on Luis….we used to think that way hysterical at his age.
    Or he might be at that age where he just looks at you like he’s considered what insane asylum you’ve crawled out of……

  72. Did that sweater get made simply to look fantastic on a pregnant belly, or what?!

    Congratulations to all the family!

  73. Huzzah! I feel compelled to confess that when I leave my house in the morning I bid farewell to my cat by saying, “See ya later, kitty-gator!” He ignores me, because cat.

  74. My cousins in law are all bilingual English and Danish; mostly brought up in Denmark. Unfortunately one of the cousins in law ended up in hospital in the UK. Apparently there was a sign over his bed which read ‘Understands, but will not speak in English’

    Congratulations on the newest member of the family.

  75. What an exquisitely beautiful woman she is. And I remember your first photos of her and wee Luis. Just classically beautiful!

  76. Eee.. ! so cute. ^^;

    I can’t help with the ‘gator. I can, however, offer a dessert recipe that isn’t actually a recipe.
    Trifle. Which is an actual thing, and involves whipped cream and layering of whatever things you want. Fruit, cake, chocolate, lemon curd …
    Make it before hand, put it in the fridge for after dinner. It gets better the more time it has to sit (a day or so minimum), but can be eaten within hours, if you don’t want to wait that long.

    Conga-rats, to the family – and the sweaters are /awesome/. Looking forward to the new little(s), and the knits. ^^

  77. Wow! Congratulations to your whole family & you! I still remember your “Dear Luis” post as if it were yesterday..time loves to fly.
    I love the Alligator goodbye. I work at a retirement home & say it on occasion to the residents. One of them, as she was leaving to go to her room, beat me to it & said it to me first. I responded with the Crocodile retort, of course. Then she said, “Not too soon, Big Baboon!” I laughed so hard! I had never heard this before & she was so pleased to’ve gotten me, lol. Maybe if you get lucky, you can one up your family with this.

  78. Congratulations!

    (My grandgirls are having a sleep over at my house tonight. We just had a solid historical discussion about “Bloody Mary” and being called names. I miss the babies, but these girls are great fun. The oldest is so serious and smart and the little one has her own thoughts about how the world works…If I’d have known how much fun grandchildren are, I’d have had them first.)

  79. Firstly hooray another baby to knit for!
    Secondly I used to say see you later alligator to my boys and get the right crocodile response! Then as they got older it moved to “see ya” to which the response apparently is “wouldn’t wanna be ya”
    Now they are teenagers I say “bye” and the response is “yeah”. I may go back to the alligator one.

  80. What a fun post! So enjoyable to read about little Lou as he acquires language skills. Darling sweater. You must be planning a special blanket for the new niece or nephew.
    And whipped cream to boot!!!

  81. The best book for rhyming IMHO is Alligator Pie written by Dennis Lee. It is Canadian and has Toronto references in it so it would be perfect for Luis! I loved that book as a kid.

  82. Congratulations on the impending new arrival! And also, try poke cake for dessert for Luis. It’s delicious, and even better with whipped cream on it!

  83. Thank You for another lovely post and congratulations on the upcoming wee one in your family. I Look forward to seeing what knits you conjure for the wee one and the rest of your kin.
    Working on some socks myself at this point, a variation of your plain vanilla socks. Happy St Patty’s day in advance!

    • O, my, St. Patrick’s Day tomorrow and this Irish lass almost forgot! Better CO something green right now so I’ll have it ready to knit on tomorrow.
      Thanks, Louise

  84. We always did the full run:

    See you later, alligator,
    In a while, crocodile,
    See you soon, big baboon,
    Manana, iguana!

    He might catch on to the last one.

    Or, you could be crass like my parents, who taught me to ask:

    Me: Let’s make like hockey players
    You: And get the puck outta here!

  85. I figured that was coming soon! Congrats to everyone. We always say this at our house too, only we add on “in a bit nit-wit”. But not in a mean way, nice, you know?

  86. Hooray and congratulations to all! My niece and nephew (twins) are 3 1/2 and I can just picture the conversation you had with Luis. We have similar conversations – When suggesting something is silly or fun, I get either a you-are-kind-of-weird look or an “Auntie Liz, it’s not like THAT, it’s like THIS.” etc. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything – they are so adorable and I love watching them grow up.

  87. Maybe try playing `See You Later, Alligator` by Bill Haley & His Comets. If he knows it`s a song, he might be more inclined to play along.

  88. Homemade chocolate pudding is most excellent with whipped cream. A major fav growing up. So good to come into a warm house after a day of play in the snow and have a still warm bowl thaw your face and tummy out.
    Especially when Mom mixed in a giant spoonful of peanut butter while the pudding was cooking.
    This was in the days of no instant anything.
    now I make the pudding with coconut milk and skip the whipped cream.
    There’s always parfaits. Cake and or cookie bits, pudding, fruit etc with piles o cream between.

  89. Like every one else I loved the ending of this post, brought me to tears. I cared for my nephew since he was 4 months old until he was 3 years old. He called me Tia Fluffy! I am a bit overweight. My son and his wife (she is from the Philippines) have taught their son to speak her native language, Spanish, and English. The baby was born in Louisiana and before they left the hospital the nurses gave them tips on how to use three languages at home. My grandson doesn’t call me grandma fluffy…

  90. In Spanish you might say “chao pescao!” Pescao is a contraction of pescado, fish. So you could say bye fish! with Luis. The hello equivalent is “hola caracola”, hello snail!

  91. You may not be able to use the same farewells, but Spanish rocks because you can dramatically call him “mi amor”, “mi vida” and “mi corazon”. Preferably while smooching him with your poochiest lips and pinching his cheeks at the same time. It’s what Tias are supposed to do. ;o)

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