In the car, driving home from a restaurant where my kids ate exactly three bites of their $4.99 dinners, why do we even bother:
PHILLIP: Grown up conversation! Grown up conversation! Grown up conversation!
MAGGIE: Grown up conversation! This is so enjoyable! I haven't experienced this all day long!
JACK: MOMMY. MOMMY. MOMMY. MOMMY. MOMMY. MOMMY. MOMMY. MOMMY.
PHILLIP; Grown up conversation!
MAGGIE: Grown up conversation!
MAGGIE: WHAT! WHAT JACK!
(ed. note: perhaps that sounds like a harsh acknowledgment of a four-year-old requesting attention, but we were at the nine thousandth repetition of "MOMMY" so, you know, PATIENCE WAS WEARING THIN)
JACK: Mommy. I just wanted to say...
MAGGIE & PHILLIP: waiting, in earnest, for this new piece of enlightenment
JACK: You weren't listening to me!
MAGGIE: I am going to throw my own self out of this car.
Oh Internet. Can you believe there was a time when I was worried, like Anxiously Doctor-Prescribed Worried about whether or not this kid was going to speak? I was told he should be saying X number of words by 15 months, and he was saying something like -X number of words. I tried not to Go There, you know, where you start worrying about Diagnoses and Therapies and all that, but what's a first time parent to do when the doctor says, "and if he's not saying X number of words by 15 months, bring him in and we'll talk." Panic!
Well, like most things, it seems, there was no need to worry. Talking, like everything else, came in its own due time and we had a really beautiful Talking Honeymoon. My kid said the sweetest, funniest, most charming things. And sometimes he still does. But now these little quips and anecdotes are coming at the speed of light, people. My ears! They bleed!
We get running commentaries on television shows, detailed descriptions of what he is going to draw for us, random memories of vacations past, soliloquies on the virtues of peanut butter vs. peanut butter tainted with jelly and speeches on every topic you can think of, and, of course, all of these bursts of brilliance require an audience. God forbid you are not staring right at him, eyes shining brightly, hanging on his every word. Don't you dare try to fold clothes or wash a dish or pick up crayons or, I don't know, EAT YOUR OWN LUNCH while the boy is trying to tell you something. Try that and you're going to be MOMMY'd to death. Seriously, just take it from me and pay instant attention. Your ears will thank you.
My favorite, right now, are the Facts. Jack, as I've mentioned in this space before, is a big fan of non-fiction books and TV shows and the kid is now crammed full of information about deep sea creatures, the planets, the human body and whatever else he's decided he's an expert in that day. Unfortunately, not all of his facts are TRUE. They are, you know, Four-Year-Old Facts, meaning "these are true because I said so, and don't try to tell me otherwise Mommy, I don't CARE if you went to college." Of course, half the time I honestly have no idea if what he's telling me is true or not (English major! Do not speak Science!) but I DO know that gibberish words are GIBBERISH and not names of cars or the biggest planet or what jellyfish eat.
"But Mommy," he says prissily, "that's how I say it."
WHATEVER, KID. Then I call my mother to vent and complain (and also tell the funny stories, like when Jack insisted it was Mt. REINDEER not Mt. RAINIER) and she says, "That's what YOU used to do."
I swear, having kids is like your parents' revenge on you, isn't it.