bentangle

Tag: From the Mouths of Babes

Big Hearts, Short Sleeves

by on Sep.01, 2010, under family

It is interesting how much emotion can be conveyed with a small amount of words.  For instance, this morning as I was getting ready to leave the house I called up the stairs to everyone to let them know that I was leaving for work.  Each of my family members replied in turn in their own unique ways:

Grasshopper: BYE DADDY, I LOVE YOU!

Cricket: I belong to you, Daddy!

My wife: The money is on the table.

The last sounds odd out of context, though in truth there was no immediate conversational context to it – my wife and I just have a very down-to-earth relationship and have a knack for picking up random long-dead conversation threads and/or answering each others unasked questions.  But the tone of each response reflects much greater depth of the emotions behind them than the words themselves convey.  My kids are full of exuberant, idealistic affection for the father that they only see in passing in the morning and for a few hours in the evening. My wife, already in the trenches of dealing with getting the kids ready for the day, sticks with purposeful messaging (the love we share is known, implied, and not in need of constant reinforcement).

I can’t help but wonder sometimes, when in my own life the level of emotional openness and heightened expression that my kids seem to exude had faded.  What are the factors that delay or expedite this process?  When should I expect my daughter to transition from her current puppy-dog phase to something more similar to the cynical teen that I’m sure she might become?  Should I try to stave it off or just accept what comes?

The oddity of it is that it is so dissimilar to my own attitude I find myself sometimes wondering if we are really related.  I wouldn’t necessarily call myself cynical (though I certainly maintain a healthy level of cynicism), but I’m definitely a picture of nonchalance.  A perfect example of my cool under pressure demeanor is one that is often cited by my in-laws – usually around Thanksgiving.

The event in question happened during a Thanksgiving about a decade ago at my wife’s aunt’s house.  While my aunt-in-law and several other of the matriarchs of the family were buzzing about the kitchen and the majority of the men and children where engrossed in whatever football game happened to be on, I walked through the dining room to grab a snack from the kitchen island on the other end of it.  As I did so, I noticed that one of the drip candles that were on the table seemed to have dropped a piece of wick and as a result a circle of the tablecloth about two inches across had been charred and was slowly edging wider by some very low flames.  I calmly walked into the kitchen and asked my aunt-in-law “Aunt Ann, your table is on fire.  Do you have a pot holder I can borrow?” to which she responded with a flabbergasted “What!?”.  While she wended through the people in the kitchen to get to the dining room and see what I was referring to, I grabbed the first thing I could find to handle the task – a damp dishrag.  By the time I got back there, she and two of my wife’s cousins were watching the now soda-can diameter ring of fire in abject shock.  I skirted around them and patted the fire out with the dishrag, blew out the candles to avoid any possible recurrence, and grabbed a couple of sweet gherkins from the pickle tray and went about my business.    The rest of the ladies seemed to bustle about it for a while before the table was retrimmed and the commotion reformed in the kitchen where it previously resided.  Many of the men didn’t even seem to notice anything had happened.  But my aunt-in-law tells the story of it almost every year.

Anyway, I know that I am somewhat unique in my lack of excitability.  But there are times when I wish a little of it would rub off on my kids (and perhaps at moments my wife as well).  While I appreciate the positive end of their heightened emotional state, the negative side of it is rarely much fun.  Cricket is a picture of indecisiveness – she can easily waste a half-hour trying to decide whether pink or yellow shorts go better with the brown shirt she is wearing (and then throw on leprechaun socks).  Grasshopper will have a 20-minute stand off over not liking green beans (including throwing silverware and having a tantrum across the house) before finally eating a forkful and realizing he loves them.  The trouble with family drama seems to be the balance – keeping the levels of comedy and tragedy in line and not pegged at 11.

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Interpretive Song

by on Jan.15, 2010, under family, video games

I could go on about how the very thoughtful be seemingly innocuous gift of RockBand 2 from my sister has gone through the ebb flow of severe addiction and determined withdrawal within our household, but that would take away from this nugget that just happens to be as a result of the song selection my children have been exposed to by this game.  The nugget really needs no explanation, so I will be uncharacteristically brief and take you straight to it.  So here it is:

Grasshopper’s (my 3-year-old son) rendition of the opening to Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name”:

Chocolate heart
And your too lame
You give love a Band-aid

Yes, kids do say some of the funniest things.  But few compare to the arguments they can get into over song lyrics.

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Leaps and Bounds

by on Sep.21, 2009, under books, family, parenthood, TV

An exchange between myself and Cricket in the car this weekend while she was looking at a dinosaur book (keep in mind that she just started Kindergarten 2 weeks ago):

Cricket: What’s a quadriped, Daddy?
Me: A quadriped is any animal that walks on four legs.
Cricket: What about ones that walk on two legs?
Me: They would be called bipeds.
Cricket: Oh, okay.
[pause]
Cricket: I have a hypothesis that most dinosaurs were quadripeds.
Me: Okay.  What does the word hypothesis mean? [just testing her]
Cricket: Its an idea that I can test.
Me: And how do you plan to test this idea?
Cricket: By looking at pictures in my book, Daddy.

I cannot take full responsibility for this – I think she learned a number of these words from a new show she has been watching called Dinosaur Train.  But the extent to which her thirst for knowledge has been amped up recently is phenomenal.  Hopefully this will lead her toward learning to read more readily than her interest in it has betrayed recently.  Once that door is open to her, there is no telling where she’ll go next.  But it is an exciting journey to watch.

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Pudding Wars

by on Aug.17, 2009, under family, home & stuff, parenthood

You know that you’ve spent too much time fighting to get your kids to eat when you are arguing with them to eat their dessert.  That seems to be the position I found myself last night with my son over a bowl of lemon pudding.  We had made an instant box of it and divvied it up 4 ways evenly.  My daughter, my wife and I ate ours up pretty swiftly (it IS pudding – there isn’t really any chewing and what’s not to like), but my son seemed to eat about half of his and then proceeded to engage in one of his favorite past times – jumping on and dismantling the couch.

I only pushed him on the pudding to get a sense of whether he was even interested in finishing it – not to force it on him (the less sugar the better, really).  But he was too busy bouncing around to pay any attention to the line of questioning.  So I finally put it such that if he doesn’t want the rest, someone else would gladly finish it for him – to which my 5-year-old daughter responds “I’d like to volunteer to be that person.” I swear that not a week goes by that she doesn’t surprise me with some new word or phrase that she has seamlessly integrated into her vocabulary.

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Garbled Lyrics

by on Aug.10, 2009, under family, music

I take a modicum of pride in the fact that I expose my kids to modern music rather than strictly kids stuff.  While they do listen to and enjoy some of the kids music, they mostly prefer less bubble-gummy fare.  And while I am happy that our tastes can overlap, most of this pride is in the fact that they have a keen enough sense of self to be selective in what they like.

To get to the point, one song that is on one of the CDs they listen to often in the family car, which also happens to be one of my ringtones on my phone (I like the introductory guitar sequence) is “Psycho” by Puddle of Mudd.  Often when it comes on in the car, my 2-year-old son will joke that I should answer my phone.  The other day, though, he had my wife in tears as he is singing it to himself without the song on to back him up as his interpretation of the chorus is “baby I’m a wow” (with significant twang on the word ‘wow’) – for those unfamiliar, the actual line goes “maybe I’m the one”.

Here is a video for the song (unfortunately I don’t have video of my son belting out his version):  Psycho – Puddle of Mudd

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