Thursday, March 7, 2013

Quarter Platypus

Snorgtees "We are platypus" tshirt (I almost bought this for Emma)

Yesterday on Facebook, a friend's Aspie son was extolling the virtues of platypi (that they're unfair) and I explained to her that my daughter had a friend who was half platypus.  She asked whether the girl had venom-filled spikes on her feet, and I promised I'd ask Emma.  
"No," she said, "She just has regular feet."

So that question was answered.  As for the question of the girl/platypus, here's the story (from when Emma was still going to an after care program...two years ago).

1/4 Platypus
I give my oldest daughter a lot of credit for her smarts.  She's bright, and articulate, she reads well and gets straight A's, and so sometimes it's easy for me to forget that underneath it all she is still just an 8 year-old girl.  She is also an arguer.  I’m certain I have no idea where she gets it, but she'll argue minutia and technicality with all the confidence, authority, and yes, swagger of an expert witness (or her father).
Last night, preoccupied with collecting the detritus of our most recent trip to the library, bookmarks and books, due date slips and free book coupons and exiting the car to walk into the house, my daughter bent my ear with the tale of one of her new friends from day camp.  I'll admit I was only half paying attention.  The gentle trilling of her musical voice was background noise that only snapped into sharper focus when she said the word, "platypus".  I'm not sure why that caught my attention.  Perhaps my brain, already in auto-pilot, sensed that no ordinary conversation ever contains the word "platypus" and that attention should probably be paid.  I stopped her in mid-story and asked her to repeat.
"My friend at school is half platypus," she repeated.
"Like Perry the Platypus?" I asked.
"No, like she's really half platypus."
"No, honey, she isn't."
"Yes, she IS!" she adamantly replied.  This conversation (the line above and this line) was repeated perhaps three times, with each participant growing still more vocal in his/her assertion, until I realized I would get nowhere repeating my "argument", "no she isn't" louder and more forcefully.  I attempted instead to get to the heart of the matter.
"Why do you think she is half platypus?" We climbed the stairs to her room, carrying her new books.  I sat down on the bed and took off my shoes.
"Well, she told us she was, but we didn't believe her, so she said, 'you can ask my mom when she comes to pick me up, she won't lie', and when her mom came in, we asked her and she said she was!"  I took this information in stoically. 
"Okay, so her mom said her daughter was half platypus?"
"Yes," she confirmed, "And she said SHE was half platypus too!"
Ugh.  "Well," I started slowly, "she is absolutely NOT half platypus, but she may be pure bred odd.  Emma, in order for your friend to be half platypus (I didn't address the fact that her mother (also half platypus) would have to have mated with a half platypus father, feeling that the math associated with this would escape her, but focused instead on the easiest means for a full blooded human to beget a half platypus offspring) her father would have to be an actual platypus.  So. . . if her mother is human, and her father is a platypus, THEN she could be half platypus."
I rested my argument there.  I felt fairly confident in my victory.  Emma was quiet, thinking about this, perhaps.  I got up from the bed and carried my shoes to the closet. 
"Alright, I have to help your mother make dinner, go ahead and start reading and we'll call you down".  I left Emma on the bed with her book and her thoughts and started down the stairs. 
From the bedroom above, quietly, as if to herself, she said, "There might be a really handsome platypus out there. . . "
My initial groan preceded my resulting laughter. 


  1. I may have mentioned (elsewhere) that she clearly gets her sass and snark from you. ;-)

  2. I love this story! A handsome secret agent platypus no less!

    1. She was very specific that it was NOT Perry.

  3. I had no idea platypi (that's the plural? huh) had venom-filled spikes. I WANT VENOM-FILLED SPIKES! I would be very good at having such a thing!

    I love this entire conversation. And I love that she ARGUED that the kid was part platypus. My mom was convinced my cat is half woodchuck. When I tried to explain that's not how genetics works, she just decided not to listen to me. "No. He looks like maybe he's half woodchuck SO HE IS," she said. "He was a stray, you don't know his mom didn't meet a woodchuck." Science education in upstate New York failed her, I think.

    If that kid gets to be part platypus, can I be part cheetah or something helpful? You'll need to get back to me on this, Jim, before I enter a race that I probably wouldn't win without cheetah DNA.

    1. I didn't know either.

      You ARE part cheetah. How else do you explain your ability to ride them like ponies?

  4. Ha! Love it! I'm also glad to hear that the friend doesn't have the venom filled spikes. If she did, gym class kickball would be a problem, wouldn't it?

    1. right? You'd have to incorporate that into an IEP somehow.

  5. LOL! Oh dear, people claiming to be half platypus? Well, at least they got the spike thing right. Only the males have those.

  6. Gotta watch out for those platypi. They are handsome and charming devils.

  7. I think this is a matter for the National Enquirer.