Please Be Quiet Right Now

I have a five-year old who is getting even with me for being a five-year old who never shut up.  It’s a curse.  Parents say, “I hope you have one just like you.”  Well, I did.  And while I never walked across the house to turn around, bend over, and pass gas in people’s faces running away laughing like an evil little monster, I certainly did the following:

1. I had to be right.  Yes, if there was a suspect commercial on the television, I had to comment like I was in training to be an opinion-laced TV news pundit on a not really fair and biased news outlet I mention from time to time.  My son returns this favor by commenting on everything.

2. I had to ask questions about everything.  I asked so many questions that my mom bought me a book “Tell Me Why,” which answered much of the more frequently asked meaning of life questions, like how basic things worked, why God allowed suffering in the universe and the one I remember best, how gelatin is made from animal bones. This started my slippery slope to vegetarianism, I believe, and provided a story I use to disgust my students to this day.  Declan gets even with me by asking questions to which he knows the answer. “What’s ‘scary?'”  It means frightening. “What’s ‘frightening?'” Something that makes you afraid.  “What’s ‘something that makes you afraid?'”  It’s the rest of my life if you don’t stop asking questions! Alas, the experts tell us when you get exasperated by the questions, to be grateful that they are choosing you to ask the questions to–it helps to control the indoctrination process.

3. I didn’t listen very well. I might have obeyed the letter of the law, but I twisted it to fit my purposes. I’m getting repaid for this in spades.  If I say “Please don’t jump on that,” I’ll get “I’m not–it was a bounce.”  If I say, “Don’t touch,” guaranteed there will be a touch.  Yesterday, I found a fresh, warm piece of toast on the counter.

“I told you can’t use the toaster by yourself.” There is a reason for this–I bake my own bread. Part of making toast requires using the big French knife to cleave off a hunk of bread to stuff in the toaster. I’m not making the kid go gluten-free or starve.

He replied, “I didn’t.”  What do you mean you didn’t? There’s a piece of toast there. How did it get there?”

“I don’t know.”

Let’s review. “I told you not to make toast by yourself, yet there is a piece of toast there. And it’s warm. And I heard the toaster pop…How did the toast get there?” Logic finally prevailed like when a police officer catches the crook red-handed. “But you have the stuff in your hand.”

“Okay, Mommy, I made the toast. I didn’t really make it, I just pushed the button. The toaster made it.”  Apparently, Johnny Cochrane has reincarnated in my son.

4. I knew everything.  I had a fact and an annoying comeback for everything. I still do on some days. Quite honestly, though I admit to being a nerd and fringe character all throughout school, I’m surprised I didn’t get locked in a gym locker.  I guess the nerds and bad athletes serve the purpose of providing enough free entertainment for the rest of the community that it’s best to keep them around.   I can see this tendency in the boy as he relentlessly peppers us with every dinosaur fact known to man–he has books, little video clips on PBS, and fact cards.  I don’t know any of this stuff, but I’ve had to study on the down low because heaven forbid anyone mispronounces a dino–you’re in for a 45 minute lecture from the youngest paleontologist in the world.

5. I never shut up.  I still struggle with this one.  Maybe it’s the way my brain thinks in so many directions at once.  Maybe it’s because I see so many connections between things that other people don’t see, (because they may not be there?) and I want to explore them all at the same time.  In emails, maybe it’s because I type fast, a skill for which I will always be grateful to Mrs. Stanulonis, my eighth grade math teacher, for teaching me in a couple of hours after school. I went home and practiced on my cast-iron Royal antique typewriter–apparently the same model used by Hemingway, never realizing I’d use that skill to torture the recipients of my emails and research years later.  I can see that Declan is going to hang tight in the “never shutting up” karma competition.

6. Weird foods.  I am now a vegetarian, though when I was five, I was forced to eat all the yucky foods that we had–liver, bad cooking, unseasoned food.  One time, my mom made soup starter and I loved it.  She cried.  All the cooking she put time into, we wouldn’t eat, but we loved processed soup.  Declan has proclaimed himself a “fruititarian.” I’m not sure whether to shove my cooking down his throat or not, so I just let him eat the stolen hunks of  bread and foraged apples from the fruit bowl. I choose not to fight on this one. We’ll see in twenty years if I ruined him.

So, to all the people who buy stuffed animals cursed with voodoo, charms, and spells under the guise of gifts and incant “I hope you have one just like you,” let me tell you–it does, in fact, work.

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12 thoughts on “Please Be Quiet Right Now

  1. I have one of these never-shuts-up boys, as well. He’s 10 now and shows no signs of slowing down. We have to explore every possibility, examine every comment or tv commercial and wade through a never-ending onslaught of “what if” scenarios. And, of course, I see myself in him and it exhausts me. Great post!

  2. You Rock Dawn! I think we’re given children like ourselves because it teaches us to accept our own flaws (even though we’re perfect)! I remember coming home late one night and my mother saying in her sleepy voice, “I hope you have one just like you!” And then I had twins…..

  3. Steve Jobs was a fruitarian for a while too, you know. Also very quirky, always right, didn’t listen well, and had to have all the answers. Are you sure he’s not channeling him?

  4. Yes, when it comes to having children, what goes around comes around! And I totally relate to “I never shut up” — but it’s not just the mouth, it IS the brain — like you said, “Maybe it’s the way my brain thinks in so many directions at once. Maybe it’s because I see so many connections between things that other people don’t see, (because they may not be there?) and I want to explore them all at the same time.” Yes! What a fun post. ~ Kat

  5. Thanks, Kat. That was a tacit apology to a good friend who basically told me to shut up in my emails. But you know what, sometimes I just don’t feel like it and the world can cave to me (us…) for a brief moment in time:)

  6. Our children would understand each other so very well, and you are definitely on my mental list of fellow bloggers with whom I’d enjoy having a cup of coffee. I was reading through that list and thinking, wow, that’s the past seven years of my life as a mom, and that is also how I was (which might explain why I’m an only child?)! Thanks for putting it into words. I encourage you as I encourage myself to keep answering the questions…but throw in a few questions of your own for fun. And, homemade bread sounds so very good! Keep writing and loving your amazing little boy–I feel like I know him!

    • Thank you, and I love coffee. I love seeing your kids as well:) The bread–very simple. A gift of the recession. I that’s an idea to write about, thank you very much:)

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