Thursday, December 29, 2005

Global Wisdom, or Ron Mexico Meets Ron Canada

The second Christmas gift for Eli 4.4 that deserves special consideration is the Leapfrog Explorer Globe II.

We got II, because II is always better than I.

It's a very nice globe, attached to a base that is full of controls. You can find out all kinds of information (via a decent voice chip) about different countries by selecting a category from the base and then using the touch-pen to select a spot on the globe.

Eli 4.4 decided he wanted to check this out on Tuesday (bikes and dinosaurs kept him busy until then). So we sat down and looked at it together. Eli loves to stay busy, and he would often use the touch pen again before the current information had completed, changing categories and locations constantly.

Then, at some point, we got really, really lucky.

Maybe it was Eli touching all over the globe with the touch pen. Maybe it was him turning the dial every five seconds. Whatever it was, though, we hit the jackpot.

Eli pressed the touch pen on the United States.

"Canada," said the globe.

He pressed the pen on Mexico.

"Canada," said the globe.

I burst out laughing. "Little dude, that's not Canada," I said. "That's Mexico."

"It is?" he asked.

"That's right," I said. He looked at me, then pressed Mexico again.

"Canada," said the globe. This time, we both burst out laughing.

I moved his hand down and he pressed on Columbia. "That's Columbia," I said.

"Greenland," said the globe.

It was the greatest globe ever. We started using the touch-pen all over the world. Central America? Canada. Algeria? The Arctic Ocean. China? Russia. Poland? The Arctic Ocean again.

It was brilliant. Eli was laughing so hard that he was doubled over. He ran into the bathroom, where Gloria was taking a shower, and shouted "Mommy! MEXICO IS CANADA!" Then he cracked up.

We tried other options. For a while, most of the countries in the world were identified as either the Arctic Ocean or Andorra--population 2.2 million. At least, I think it was Andorra--we were laughing so hard that I could hardly pay attention.

At one point, after another few billion people were consigned to the Arctic Ocean, we were both laughing so hard that we were both on our backs on the floor.

"That is the best Christmas present EVER," I said, when Gloria came out of the shower.

"I can't believe it's broken," she said. "I'll send it back."

"NO, Mommy. NO!" Eli 4.4 looked like he was about to cry.

"All right," she said. "We'll keep it." Eli started jumping around doing his happy dance. I might have been doing mine, too.

Now I wish this story had a happy ending, but sadly, it does not. The next morning, one of the first things Eli did was run over to the globe and turn it on. He touched Mexico.

"Mexico," said the globe.

"Shoot," Eli said. "Daddy, it's working now. Can you fix it?"

How I wish I could. Instead of our beloved Marx Brothers geographer, we now get boring and entirely correct facts about countries we no longer care for. Eli wanders over several times a day, touches a country, and when it's identified correctly, says "Oh, it's working" in a disappointed tone.

We both still hope, though, that one day, if only for a few minutes, Mexico and the United States will once again be part of Canada, as we all know they should be.

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