Apparently wind chimes say 'nee, nee, nee', worms say 'glub, glub, glub' and even inanimate objects must have a voice.
'What do they say, Mummy?' asks Max of the bamboos we are using to try and make a wigwam. 'What do they say?'
I offer something like 'click, clack' and it seems to satisfy, but this is just fuel for the fire - later it is the the traffic lights that have got to say stop or go and then it is the washing macheem that must speak to us. I tell him I'm not sure that a washing macheem says anything,
'No, no, Mummy, what does it say?'
And it has become virtually impossible to read Max a story because of this endlessly repeated question. For example, I started reading Rupert the Bear earlier,
'Next day, the sun is shining bright - "The old barometer was right"' I read.
'What is he saying?' says Max
'Well', I tell my curious listener, 'Rupert's saying "The old barometer is right"'
'No, but what is he saying?'
It's as if there must be some hidden subtext. 'Well he's saying the forecast is right...' I try reading the next line:
'But looking out, Rupert sees how the whole of Nutwood's flooded now...'
'What is he saying?' says Max again.
Luckily there's some dialogue coming up so I keep reading:
'"It's terrible!" says Mr Bear "The Flooding has spread everywhere"'
To which Max responds, (and you'll know this one), 'But what is he saying?'
It makes the story drag a little.
I'm well aware though, that we are currently in the easy question stage. If Max isn't asking me what things are saying, it's 'what are they dooing? or 'what are those are?' and 'where is my that.' It's the next stage of questioning I should be bracing myself for, when I'm going to need to dust off my brain cells and recall my school science lessons to explain why bamboos grow straight, who switches the traffic lights to green or how exactly a barometer works.